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South Bay Digest

Hermosa Beach : Amity on Attorney's Fee

August 13, 1987

The City Council and City Atty. James Lough reached an agreement this week regarding the attorney's services and fees.

Councilman Jim Rosenberger, who first raised questions about the fees, suggested this week that Lough be required to personally perform at least two-thirds--about 53 hours--of the 80 hours covered by his $3,700 monthly retainer and that at least five hours of the two monthly council meetings be included within the retainer. Work performed by Lough's paralegal could account for the rest of the time.

The council and Lough agreed.

Council members had complained that Lough was charging the city extra for some services, including attending council meetings, that they thought were covered under a contract that took effect May 1.

The city pays Lough the retainer for 80 hours a month of "ordinary legal services," defined in the contract as giving legal advice, writing documents, attending council and Planning Commission meetings and holding office hours at City Hall.

Rosenberger and other council members said in recent interviews that they thought all 80 hours of work under the retainer should be done by Lough, although his bills showed that some of the work was being done by his paralegal. Lough charges $100 for ordinary services he performs beyond the 80-hour limit and $45 an hour for work done by his paralegal, which means the city gets a better deal when Lough's work is covered by the retainer.

In May and June--the first two months of the agreement--Lough worked 49.5 and 48.6 hours respectively under the retainer. Work by the paralegal accounted for the remaining hours.

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