Lawyer David Boies bills $1,950 hourly in Google case, court filing shows

Lawyer David Boies speaks to reporters outside the courthouse after a bail hearing in U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking case in New York City
Lawyer David Boies speaks to reporters outside the courthouse in New York City, U.S. July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
  • Veteran litigator on plaintiffs' team alleges privacy violations against Google
  • Google denies it violated any court orders and is contesting lawsuit's claims

(Reuters) - Prominent trial lawyer David Boies is billing $1,950 an hour in a case alleging privacy violations against Alphabet Inc's Google LLC, according to a court filing seeking fees after a judge sanctioned the company for litigation misconduct.

The fee petition filed on June 3 by Boies and other lawyers on the plaintiffs' team came in response to a U.S. magistrate judge's ruling in San Jose, California, federal court last month that said Google failed to timely disclose certain pieces of evidence, including the names of key employees.

The judge said the plaintiffs were entitled to some legal fees as a sanction against Google. The internet search company denied that it had violated any court orders, and it has contested the underlying privacy claims in the proposed class action over its "Incognito" web-search setting.

Google's attorneys have urged the judge not to impose any sanctions.

Boies, 81, who founded litigation-focused firm Boies Schiller in 1997, developed his name as a lawyer for the U.S. government in its landmark antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. More recently, Boies faced criticism over his work for Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood producer convicted of rape in 2020. Boies' law firm has seen numerous departures to rival firms in recent years.

He did not return messages seeking comment on Monday.

The average hourly rate charged by law firms in 2021 across the market was $533, according to a 2022 report by Thomson Reuters Institute and Georgetown University Law Center. The report said large U.S. firms led the pack amid a "fairly aggressive" increase in billing rates.

Well-known lawyer Kannon Shanmugam of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison was billing last year at $1,824 hourly. Recent filings in a bankruptcy case showed Hogan Lovells partner Neal Katyal charging $2,465 hourly.

Jim Jones, senior fellow at Georgetown Law's Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession, called $2,000 hourly rates "very high" and would be limited "to people who were right at the top of their game and major rainmakers."

The underlying lawsuit was filed in 2020 and alleges Google invaded the privacy of web users who were browsing sites while in "private" mode. The complaint said Google had secretly collected information from those users of the company's "Incognito" browsing mode.

A Google spokesperson did not immediately comment on Monday, and a lawyer for Google at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The plaintiffs' firms, which also include Susman Godfrey and Morgan & Morgan, are seeking more than $1.07 million in fees and costs for their work drafting certain court filings and preparing for a hearing.

The case is Brown v Google LLC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 4:20-cv-03664.

For Brown: Mark Mao of Boies Schiller Flexner; Bill Carmody of Susman Godfrey; and John Yanchunis of Morgan & Morgan

For Google: Andrew Schapiro of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Read more:

Lawyer's $2,465 hourly rate draws objection in J&J talc bankruptcy case

'Some misfires,' says David Boies, but at 81 he's still at it

Facebook, Gibson Dunn face $854K sanctions demand in Cambridge Analytica class action

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.