LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Water Replenishment District of Southern California, lawsuit, pumping rates, legal fees: "Water district found itself drowning in legal fees" ....
* Los Angeles Times: "Water district found itself drowning in legal fees" - From the LAT:
Facing a lawsuit from cities over its pumping rates, the Water Replenishment District of Southern California called in the big guns. Latham & Watkins LLP -- a blue-chip, international law firm with more than 2,000 lawyers – would be the "bazooka" the agency needed, director Albert Robles said. "I wanted to intimidate the cities," said director Robert Katherman.
But that strategy came with a price: Latham & Watkins charged hourly rates of $285 for a paralegal up to $790 for a senior partner, according to district records. Aleshire & Wynder LLP -- the firm representing Downey, Cerritos, Signal Hill and Bellflower -- charged $150 and $300 for the same services. In a span of 10 months, Latham & Watkins billed the district more than $5 million in legal fees, according to invoices. That was about $1 million more than what the cities were charged by attorneys over five years.
Director John Allen, who joined the Water Replenishment District board in January, said he was stunned by the legal fees, calling them "unsustainable." "It became apparent we were going to sign checks larger than what these cities were suing us for," he said.
Two weeks ago, the WRD settled the case, agreeing to pay the cities that sued it $9.1 million.
In a way, I'm glad they brought that firm in," said attorney David Aleshire, who represented the cities. "Maybe they thought we'd just roll over and surrender but we were operating under rates that would allow us to go all the way. WRD was operating on a time frame of what it could afford."
Several WRD officials defended the legal fees charged by Latham ......................