Remember those loathsome “team projects” that everyone has to participate in at some point during the course of their educational careers: in grammar school, high school, college, or law school?
The dynamics never change. One or two industrious students always organize the whole thing and do almost all the work, a couple of semi-energetic classmates help out a little, and the rest are slackers who do nothing at all or actually get in the way and slow things down.
Nevertheless, when it’s done, those who contributed to the project get the same grade as those who did nothing or less than nothing. It seems unfair.
It seems like a pointless exercise, too – until you get out into the real world, land your first job, and find out that team projects work exactly the same way in the corporate world. It’s exasperating, but at least you’ve been prepped for it.
Whine about it all you want, if you’re one of the hard workers whose contribution is undercompensated while that of slackers is overvalued, but it won’t do you any good. And it could just be that your contributions are not as valuable as you think they are.
This is roughly the position that Alabama attorney Lewis Garrison finds himself in. He thinks his fraction of the fees in a recent settlement between farmers and agribusiness giant Syngenta is smaller than it should be, and that others who did less than him got larger pieces of the pie.
All together now: BOO HOO!
Garrison blames retired judges David Herndon and Daniel Stack for his undervaluation. Herndon initially presided over the Syngenta case and appointed Stack as special master in 2016. After the trial concluded, Garrison applied for $46.4 million in fees and Stack recommended cutting that amount to $9.6 million, which decision Herndon affirmed.
In response to Garrison’s protests, Stack noted that some of the attorneys affected by his fee distributions “demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the process and a profound arrogance as to their own value.”