Vanderbilt Law Review

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Special Project--

Recent Developments in Attorneys' Fees

In recent years, the subject of attorneys' fees has become the focal point of pressures to improve the accessibility of legal services for those unable to pay large fees. Courts, scholars, and special interest groups have examined in detail the relationship between fees and the ability to assert legal rights. This increased scrutiny has led to the elimination of minimum fee schedules, the criticism of and possible relaxation of restrictions on fee advertising, and the establishment of maximum contingent fee schedules by court rule. Private enforcement of newly enacted federal statutes against private corporations and state governments has created controversy over exceptions to the traditional rule against fee shifting and the scope of the bar of the eleventh amendment. These debates and the decisions accompanying them have important implications for the issue of whether, in a pragmatic sense, private citizens and organizations may be expected to play a major role in enforcing public rights and standards of governmental conduct. This project will consider recent developments in the attorneys' fee area by analyzing the legal background of each problem and the implications of the last year's developments.