Michael Bromwich (headshot 001)

If you were a lawyer and Apple hired you on legal matters, what would your charge Tim Cook & Co. for services rendered? A hundred bucks per hour? Three hundred bucks?

How about a whopping $1,150 per hour fee plus a fifteen percent “administrative fee” on top? That’s what one Michael Bromwich attempted to bill Apple for a fortnight’s worth of work on overseeing the electronic books price-fixing antitrust case.

But having a deep-pocketed client such as Apple is by no means a guarantee of the hefty payout, as court-appointed Bromwich discovered after the iPhone maker filed a formal objection over the exorbitant fees…

Bloomberg has the story:

Mr. Bromwich has proposed an hourly rate for himself of $1,100. And because he lacks any antitrust experience, Mr. Bromwich has also retained the law firm Fried Frank to assist him, whose partner’s hourly rate is $1,025.

Mr. Bromwich has made no attempt to justify why his lack of any substantive experience with the matter at issue justifies hiring another law firm with a four-digit billing rate.

Quick, do the math in your head: two weeks of work at $1,100 per hour amounts to an unbelievable $138,432, or the equivalent of 75 percent of a federal judge’s annual salary, Apple said in its filing. Add on top of that the cost of hiring other lawyers to assist him.

In addition to charging too high an hourly rate, Apple complained to Bromwich’s repeated attempts to interview CEO Tim Cook, board member Al Gore and design head Jony Ive, “whose sole and exclusive responsibility at Apple is to perfect elegant product designs,” according to an Apple attorney.

Bromwich argued:

Our requests to meet with key Apple personnel have been largely ignored, and when not ignored the responses have been extremely slow in coming.

The company has spent far more time challenging the terms of our compensation and raising other objections related to administrative matters, even though the Court’s Order provided no role for Apple in setting the monitor’s compensation.

The iPhone maker’s complaint described the administrative surcharge as “unprecedented in Apple’s experience” and “higher than Apple has ever encountered for any task”“Of all known past Apple matters,” the complaint reads, no lawyer has had a higher rate than Michael Bromwich’s proposed hourly fee of $1,100.

Mr. Bromwich appears to be simply taking advantage of the fact that there is no competition here or, in his view, any ability on the part of Apple, the subject of his authority, to push back on his demands.

AllThingsD added some color to the story, including the following quote from Bromwich’s letter to Cook and the board:

You people seem to think I’m working for you. Apple has sought for the last month to manage our relationship as though we are its outside counsel or consultant.

My fees are reasonable, and you have no idea what a reasonable fee looks like. Also, it doesn’t matter if you think my fees are reasonable, because you don’t get to negotiate them: You just pay them. The court will approve them.

As for the fifteen percent administrative fee, Bromwich justified that charge on the grounds of handling the assignment through the Bromwich Group, his consultancy firm, rather than through his law firm, Goodwin Procter LLP.

Bromwich – that’s him pictured top of post – was unavailable for a comment.

I want to be a lawyer, too, when I grow up!

  • Josh Kortleve

    My lawyers costs $650/hour. You get what you pay for.

  • Den

    This is why I am a law student 🙂

  • Emre SUMENGEN

    Duh… I really think that guy is not a lawyer, but rather a greedy old b****! Really, is there a limit on what mankind can do for money?

  • drbballwater

    Now Apple knows what it feels like going in. They have no problem charging me $30 for a Lightning adapter that costs 75 cents to make. Kinda sucks getting gouged doesn’t it Cupertino?

    • Or charging $700 for iPhone that costs nearly $190 to make.

      • Maxim∑

        welcome to the industry, its called profit margins and pretty much everyone successful does it in some form

  • Tommy

    You can’t and you won’t. You are and will always just be a hardcore iFag who posts stories that sides Apple. Not saying that’s always a bad thing but that’s just who you are CZ.

    • Maxim∑

      your on a Apple blog? just like if I go to droid life they side with google most of the time.

      • Hyr3m

        *You’re

  • n0ahcruz3

    Have a taste of your own medicine apple. Lol is it too much to swallow?

    • Maxim∑

      with close to 200 billion in the bank Im sure its not to much to swallow. But this money could go to more important things

      • Like what? More law suits?

      • Maxim∑

        10.4 Billion in robotics
        568 Million in saphire crystal investment
        368 Million in Prime sense 3D

        Just the past month…

  • drhjmaue

    No one should write such an arrogant letter to begin with and Apple has every right to question what they feel is an outrageous fee for questionable services. I believe the judge should appoint a fee examiner like in bankruptcy cases to oversee all professional fees and documented expenses. It is not only the right thing to do it’s the financially responsible thing to do the firm should have oversight like all other departments within Apple and even the court. This entire matter can be quickly brought under control by having an independent fee examination company retained to review all professionals submitting fees and expenses to Apple. The review process will determine whether or not Bromwich and his firm are adhering to the court’s billing protocol’s and other sources that set forth reasonable billing practices. This appointment should reduce and or eliminate all this unnecessary negative comments to the press which serve no useful purpose.

  • Carlos Gomes

    Sorry if this offends anyone, but lawyers are crooks by definition.

    • At least they do work multiple times to get paid multiple times. They can’t be worse than Software developers who do work once and charge 100s of $ for their stuff.

      • Carlos Gomes

        I’m not talking about overpricing their services.

  • pnh

    Most lawyers have you sign a contract up front that states their fees. I can’t believe Apple didn’t do this.

  • Tyler

    “If you were a lawyer and Apple hired you on legal matters, what would YOUR charge Tim Cook & Co. for services rendered?”

  • Your Mother

    funny how everybody complain against lawyers until they need one.

    • Hyr3m

      They still complain when they need one and when they have to pay the one they needed…

  • Guest

    -Deleted-

  • Jane

    Uhhh… That “quote” from Bromwich seems to be taking on more and more “legitimacy.” Every article I read which references seems to move further away from it being a completely biased “re-imagining” of what Bromwich ACTUALLY said to being directly attributed to him.

    Yeah, he didn’t say that stuff. I foolishly believed the first few articles I read. I need to remember that Apple fan-boys have a tendency to massively skew the truth if Apple is looking bad.