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Law firms that worked together on the California consumer class action against Microsoft Corp. are wrangling over their share of attorney fees. Three firms — Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, the Scarpulla Law Firm, and the Mogin Law Firm — contend that Townsend and Townsend and Crew, the lead plaintiffs’ counsel, is trying to reduce what they are owed. In November, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Paul Alvarado ordered that the 35 law firms participating in the class action should receive $112.4 million in fees and costs — less than half of the $270 million they had requested. Lerach Coughlin says Alvarado specified that the 11 firms that participated in the executive committee overseeing the case should each receive two times their “lodestar” — the number of hours expended multiplied by counsel’s hourly rate. The lawyers had requested about five times the lodestar. At stake for the firms on the executive committee is a sum “in the low seven figures,” said Leonard Simon, of counsel at Lerach Coughlin. Townsend partner Richard Grossman said the proposed allocation of fees is in accordance with an agreement the executive committee unanimously reached before filing a fee petition. Judge Alvarado has agreed to review the issue. In the meantime, he withdrew a provision in his November order that made Townsend responsible for allocating attorneys fees among the plaintiffs’ counsel.

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