Attorney fees requests

November 2006
By Judge John Wittmayer, Multnomah County Circuit Court

Requests for attorney fees are very common and can arise in a number of different circumstances and cases. The procedure for making and objecting to attorney fees requests is in almost all cases governed by ORCP 68. You should read ORCP 68 again whenever you confront this issue.

The procedure for seeking and objecting to attorney fees requests is governed by ORCP 68C(4). If you are seeking an award of attorney fees, this is almost always handled after the General Judgment is entered, and results in a Supplemental Judgment for the attorney fees, if they are awarded. A litigant seeking attorney fees must, within 14 days of the entry (not filing, but entry) of the judgment, file and serve a detailed statement of the amount of attorney fees being sought. The party opposing the request has 14 days to file and serve written objections to the request. There are quite a few appellate cases dealing with this procedure and these deadlines and you should be careful to comply with the rules in this regard.

Statements seeking attorney fees must be "detailed." ORCP 68C(4)(a)(I). Practice tip: be sure to segregate your time entries and include detailed explanations for what service you performed for each time entry. Only with this detail can opposing counsel and the court understand why that time was or was not reasonable. Likewise, objections to attorney fee requests should be as specific as possible. It is not helpful to the court for an objection to simply state that the amount of time was unreasonable. Objections should direct the court to specific time entries that are objectionable.

If objections are filed to the request for attorney fees, the parties have a right to a hearing on the issue. ORCP 68(4)c. Practice tip: when you send to the judge your request or your objection, always tell the judge if you want a hearing on the issue, or if you want the judge to decide the matter on the written submissions. Rarely is this done, and my assistant has to call the lawyers almost every time and ask this question. And, if you want a hearing, you should tell the judge how long you need on the docket for the hearing and if you plan to present evidence, or simply make arguments based on the written submissions.