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Statutory Fees

For certain legal matters, the attorney fee is set by law. Whether by state law or federal statute, and as previously mentioned, the award or payment of attorney fees is generally invoked in cases involving matters of public concern (e.g., willful environmental pollution), or major violations of constitutional rights (e.g., civil rights violations under federal law).

At one time, the American Bar Association (ABA) favored a statutory scheme to standardize minimum fees or “recommended fee schedules” to circumvent fee-cutting competition and preserve the integrity of the legal profession. However, in 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court held that minimum fee schedules violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Notwithstanding, many states and federal laws restrict maximum fees that may be charged for certain matters, as for probating a will or (with tort reform) in medical malpractice actions.

State laws awarding attorney fees, or providing for a fixed fee or percentage, or mandating court approval for a proposed fee are too varied to include herein. The following federal civil rights statutes provide for attorney fees to be paid:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II (Public Accommodations)
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title III (Public Facilities)
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII (Equal Employment Opportunities)
  • Fair Housing Act
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Civil Service Reform Act of 1978
  • Age Discrimination Act of 1975
  • Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Awards Act of 1976

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