Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fees for Fee Research?

Columnist Danny Westneat, "pawing through the firm's expense sheets," discovered that Davis Wright Tremaine has included in his fee request "287 hours of work related to its own billing. This includes researching how to collect the fees. Tabulating the hours everyone worked and expenses they incurred. Writing up memos defending their bills as reasonable." The bill just keeps going up, Seattle Times, Sept. 19, 2007.

Westneat says this is nuts. He doesn't buy DWT's argument that charging the school district big fees is a way to prevent further violations of civil rights. He doesn't buy DWT's analogy of this case to one where prison guards beat up a prisoner.

Update (Sept. 23): A reader, Scott St. Clair, wrote to Westneat about his column:

"It's curious that Westneat, given his personal history of being on the receiving end of similarly motivated School District abuse, isn't more sympathetic to the law firm," he wrote. "And less sympathetic to the villains of the piece, the politically motivated, educationally oblivious school board... ."

He's talking about the mess I was embroiled in last year, when, after years involved in our local school, we left due in part to an administration we felt was resistant to whites integrating a black school.

St. Clair's point: Seattle schools are so fixated on race that even the nation's highest court isn't enough to check it. The mule won't notice without "a board upside the head."

He might be right. I still think fining the schools is overkill. But I love it when a reader makes me doubt.
Danny Westneat, So lovely when you're mad, Sept. 23, 2007.

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