Parents' Attorneys Beware - Guidance on Fee Shifting

In a case out of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals addressing a fee shifting provision similar to the IDEA, which allowed prevailing parties to recover counsel fees under the Fair Labor Standard's Act, the Court found that an attorney could not recover fees for time for which he did not keep contemporaneous time records.

In the case of Scott v. City of New York (2d Cir. 2011), the Court denied the request of the prevailing party's fees for time the attorney spent on the case, but did not contemporaneously keep records of.  The only leeway the Court gave was to allow the attorney to recover for time that he spent in court or in conferences with the court for which there was a record of the appearance and a means by which to determine the length of time for the appearance. 

This could have implications in other fee shifting cases, including IDEA and Section 504 cases, in the same manner.  This case should be a warning to counsel for parents who intend to seek fees to keep accurate and contemporaneous time records and offers schools district counsel a possible weapon to attack fee demands. 

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