Another instance of the decidedly Pickwickian sense in which some in the legal profession use the term pro bono:
Last year, a federal judge awarded nearly $1 million in attorney fees, costs and prejudgment interest to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in a case involving workers at a restaurant in New York’s Chinatown. Chan v. Triple 8 Palace, No. 1:03-cv-06048 (S.D.N.Y.). The New York firm took the case pro bono in an attempt to collect unpaid tips on behalf of the workers.
The firm succeeded. But its request for attorney fees turned heads, especially since the workers received about $700,000.
“And you also had a large law firm telling everybody that they’re doing the case pro bono,” said Daniel A. Hochheiser, a partner at New York’s Hochheiser Hochheiser & Inwood, which represented the restaurant.
“The general understanding of pro bono is that you’re volunteering your time and effort without compensation, or without expectation of compensation,” Hochheiser said.
The case is being compared in several quarters to the Seattle school-suit fee request discussed in this space Sept. 7 and Sept. 23. (Amanda Bronstad, National Law Journal, Feb. 8; Elefant; Cal Blog of Appeal (to whom we’re happy to send the traffic). We briefly noted the Skadden fee ruling last summer.
P.S. Commenters point out — and it’s appropriate to note here as well — that Skadden, unlike Davis Wright Tremaine, says it’s giving away the fee award.