Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting – Cosponsorship of LRB-0592

Dear Members of the Legislature:

Please consider contacting Sen. Glenn Grothman and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch to co-sponsor LRB-0592, which will ensure greater transparency in contingency fee contracts the state enters into, establish limits on contingency fees, and retain state control of litigation when contingency fee counsel is hired.

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of private contingency fee attorneys on behalf of the state by governors and attorney generals across the nation.  While there are legitimate reasons for the state to use private legal services in specific instances, the lack of a uniform policy governing these arrangements has the potential for abuse and conflict of interest.

Under LRB-0592:

  • The governor or a state agency hiring a private attorney must make a written determination that contingency fee representation is both in the public interest and cost-effective.
  • The governor or state agency is required to request proposals from private attorneys or make a written determination that such a request is not feasible under the circumstances.
  • Tiered limits are set for contingency fees and an aggregate $30 cap is established, exclusive of reasonable costs and expenses.
  • Requirements must be met throughout the contract ensuring that government attorneys retain control over the litigation.
  • The contingency fee contracts must include provisions reflecting what is expected of the government attorneys and contingency fee counsel.
  • The contingency fee contract, payments made under the contract, and the state agency’s written determination about the need for this representation are to be posted on the Attorney General’s website.  Additionally, other records relating to the contract are to be subject to the state open records law and contemporaneous time records must be maintained by the private attorneys and paralegals for presentation to the Governor upon request.
  • The Attorney General must submit an annual report to the Legislature describing the state’s retention of contingency fee counsel in the preceding calendar year. 

Attached is a Wall Street Journal opinion editorial written by the former Attorney General of Florida, Bill McCollum, who is an advocate for this reform.

Please consider co-sponsoring LRB-0592, Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jason Culotta
Director of Tax & Transportation Policy