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Class Counsel Fee Awards: Navigating Increased Judicial Scrutiny of Fee Amounts Relative to Actual Class Recovery

Rule 23(e) and 23(h) Standards; Calculation, Valuation, and Allocation of Non-Cash Benefits; Measuring Class Benefit

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, January 11, 2024

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will discuss the apparent trend, at least among some courts, of applying greater scrutiny to attorneys' fees in class actions to ensure that fees are based on actual, not theoretical, benefit to the class. The panel will review Federal Rules 23(e)(C)(iii) and 23(h), common fund allocation and calculation methods, and some of the potential red flags raised by recent settlements that were rejected over attorneys' fees issues or in which fees were reduced or reversed.


Proponents of settlement should not expect to have fee arrangements rubber-stamped. The circuit courts are making clear that courts must assess whether an attorneys' fees arrangement are appropriate at both the pre- and post-certification stages. Similar scrutiny is being applied to requests for "reasonable" fees awarded under Rule 23(h).

Because fee arrangements are an important aspect of the class settlement, counsel must be well-versed in designing and calculating attorneys' fees and the methods that might be problematic in different types of settlement structures. Valuation of non-cash benefits must generally be supported by cogent expert testimony. Agreed-upon and/or requested fees may be reduced.

The heightened focus on attorneys' fees over the past decade is now being felt in more jurisdictions, particularly in consumer-focused class actions.

Listen as our experienced panel of class action lawyers explores the new emphasis on attorneys' fees, attorneys' fee calculation methods, standards for comparing attorneys' fees and class benefits, and special issues in claims made and coupon cases.



  1. Overview of Rule 23(e)(3) and 23(h)
  2. Fee calculation methods
  3. Balancing fees against the benefit to class members and type of relief
  4. Red flags of collusion
  5. Analogies from other substantive areas of law
  6. Recent decisions, including
    1. Lowery v. Rhapsody Int’l Inc., 75 F.4th 985 (9th Cir. 2023)
    2. Moses v. New York Times Co., 79 F.4th 235 (2d Cir. 2023)
    3. In re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, 80 F.4th 797, 800 (7th Cir. 2023)


The panel will review these and other critical issues:

  • What settlement structures and fee provisions are most likely to pass muster?
  • How are fees in damages actions assessed differently than in injunctive actions?
  • What are some of the considerations to account for in claims-made settlement classes?


Herman, Stephen
Stephen J. Herman

Special Counsel
Fishman Haygood

Mr. Herman is special counsel in the firm’s Litigation Section. With thirty years of experience, his primary...  |  Read More

Zavareei, Hassan
Hassan Zavareei

Tycko & Zavareei

Mr. Zavareei has devoted the last eighteen years to recovering hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of consumers...  |  Read More

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Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

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