LAO may increase the payment of an account that has exceeded the tariff maximum for the certificate if the bar can demonstrate exceptional circumstances for a case. This increase in the payment of an account is known as a discretionary increase.
You should make discretionary increase requests to LAO’s Lawyer Services and Payments department. Please request discretionary increases as you require them, not in advance, and for only one account at a time.
In addition, before you bill LAO, please make sure you have gotten all available authorizations on your certificate. You may only bill for the total hours allotted to the certificate—not more. If your account exceeds the amount of time authorized under the certificate and you have not requested a discretionary increase, LAO will settle your account in accordance with the tariff maximum for your certificate.
Reasons for discretionary increase
LAO will grant discretionary increase requests only in exceptional circumstances. The factors that comprise exceptional circumstances include:
- the result obtained
- the complexity of the matter
- the contributions of the client or other contributors
- preparation time done in anticipation of a lengthy trial or hearing which did not proceed, through no fault of the lawyer
- any other relevant factor which would warrant an increased fee
Please go to our discretion FAQ for more information.
How to request a discretionary increase
To request a discretionary increase, please fill out LAO’s discretion request form and attach it to the specific account for which you are seeking a discretionary increase. Please include a detailed justification for your request. A persuasive request usually includes:
- a brief narrative of the nature of the case
- the issues involved
- any special difficulties or complications
- the progress of the case resulting from the work billed
- the purpose and outcome of any court attendances
It is also advisable to attach, to your discretionary increase request, dockets that provide additional details about the services you rendered. For example, if you spent several hours in preparation, your docket can provide the specific details of what you did, such as review disclosure, interview witnesses, or prepare a trial brief.
Retroactive request for discretionary increase
You can retroactively request a discretionary increase on an account within 60 days that LAO pays that account by completing and submitting LAO’s discretion request form and indicating the account number to which the request applies.
If you requested a discretionary increase and did not receive it
You can submit a request for review of the settlement within 60 days of LAO paying your account. Your request must include information or additional details that you did not provide when you first applied for a discretionary increase and that might have resulted in approval then.
Other civil certificates
LAO has not implemented new discretion criteria for civil certificate matters. The old criteria and the exceptional circumstances contained in the regulation continue to apply.