Attorneys' Fees Toolkit

A collection of resources to help counsel seek attorneys' fees in federal civil litigation. These resources address attorneys' fee awards in federal civil litigation under various sources of authority and provide guidance on preparing, drafting, serving, and filing a motion for attorneys' fees (sometimes called a petition for attorneys' fees) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 54(d)(2).

Practical Law Litigation

In the US, the American Rule generally requires each party to pay its own attorneys' fees, win or lose (Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC, 135 S. Ct. 2158, 2164 (2015)).

However, a statute, rule, or contract may:

  • Permit a district court to award attorneys' fees to the prevailing party.

  • Permit a "substantially prevailing" party or successful litigant to recover attorneys' fees.

  • Authorize courts to award attorneys' fees where appropriate (for example, as sanctions for litigation misconduct) or vest courts with discretion to award fees.

The standards governing the award of attorneys' fees vary depending on the applicable source of authority.

A party seeks attorneys' fees in federal civil litigation by serving and filing a motion for attorneys' fees (sometimes called a petition for attorneys' fees) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 54(d)(2). If a party seeks attorneys' fees as sanctions for litigation misconduct, the party may need to make a separate motion for sanctions (see, for example, FRCP 11(c)(2) and (4) and see Practice Note, Sanctions in Federal Civil Litigation ( www.practicallaw.com/w-001-1365) ).

The resources in this Toolkit discuss common sources of authority for attorneys' fee awards in federal civil litigation and provide guidance on seeking attorneys' fees under FRCP 54(d)(2). For information on seeking sanctions in federal civil litigation, see Sanctions Toolkit ( www.practicallaw.com/w-001-8243) .

 

Practice Notes

 

Checklists

 

Standard Documents

 
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