In a case from New Mexico, a Court's award of attorney's fees was at a much lower rate than in other parts of the country where attorney's rates have been assessed. "The primary issue is what constitutes a reasonable hourly rate for attorney's fees for high-end insurance work in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2016. After an extensive review of local rates, the Court concludes that $350.00 is a reasonable hourly rate for experienced partners doing high-end, complicated insurance work, while a reasonable rate for experienced associates is $200.00." XTO Energy, Inc. v. ATD, No. CIV 14-1021 JB/SCY, 2016 WL 5376322, at *1 (D.N.M. August 22, 2016).
Attorneys "doing high-end, complicated insurance work" in recent cases have been awarded hourly rates double or even three times the rates awarded in this case. Did those attorneys in older cases price themselves out of insurance cases?
XTO may very well represent the prevailing mood on assessing attorney's fee rates in insurance cases. If so, attorneys doing high-end, complicated insurance work are coming down to earth.
The decision in XTO is worth following. If Courts in other jurisdictions also follow the holding on attorney's rates in this case, it will be a sea change in attorney's fee awards in insurance cases.
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