The Dallas Court of Appeals recently decided an interesting issue involving whether evidence that attorney’s fees are reasonable under the Arthur Anderson v. Perry factors is required in a breach of contract case between attorney and former client. Here, a law firm brought suit against its former client for non-payment of fees pursuant to a contract and attached its unpaid invoices to its motion for summary judgment. The firm did not introduce or establish the agreement at issue. However, the summary judgment evidence did support that the client owed the fees represented by the invoices. The trial court granted summary judgment to the law firm and the client appealed.
The court of appeals framed the issue as: "[T]he unique situation of deciding whether a party must prove its attorneys’ fees are reasonable and necessary under the Andersen factors when there has been no showing of a breach of an underlying contract." The court held that "under the unique facts of this situation, we conclude that the Anderson factors apply in determining the reasonableness of attorneys’ fees." Without a contract, the court continued, "it only seems prudent that we employ some gatekeeping function to ensure attorneys’ fees are reasonable under Texas Rule of Professional Conduct 1.04." Accordingly, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded to the trial court. The opinion in Ashton Grove, L.C. v. Jackson Walker L.L.P. can be found at this link.