Amici seek to participate in this appeal because their members, staff and volunteer attorneys screen large numbers of potential administrative and judicial cases per year (many involving low-income and out of work individuals), deciding whether to handle particular issues or represent particular clients. Both potential clients and potential attorneys know that civil rights litigation requires a multi-year commitment. The vast majority of potential clients are unable to pay anything resembling a commercial fee. In making decisions whether to continue representing employees confronting workplace discrimination or retaliation, and which employees they can represent, plaintiffs’ attorneys need a clear idea as to whether they will be awarded commercial rates if they prevail. A rate that discounts their time to an increasing degree the longer the matter drags on provides a built-in headwind to potential clients seeking counsel, a built-in disincentive to attorneys Congress sought to encourage, and a built-in subsidy from successful plaintiffs’ attorneys to civil rights violators.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
MWELA Amicus by Jonathan C. Puth
November 7, 2012