Friday, September 20, 2002

inquiry regarding contingency fees

This afternoon, a person inquired as to general information regarding contingency fees. I am posting the question and response here, as I felt that it might be helpful to others:

Inquiry: Is it a regular practice for the client to be charged 40% for recovery made after filing suit? It seems high to me….

Attorney Response:
Fee arrangements can vary greatly from state to state, city to city, and case by case. Some factors to consider when considering a fee structure are:

The experience of the attorney (both in years and in the subject matter);
The complexity of the case;
The novelty of the legal issues;
The urgency of the case;
The prevailing attorney fee rate in the community;
The amount of attorney time that will be needed;
The amount of staff time that will be needed;
Whether the attorney will be advancing costs, or not;
The attorney’s evaluation as to the likelihood that the case will succeed;
The likelihood of appeal (or whether a different fee rider is added for appeals).

When we weigh these factors for any given case you may find that 40% is just right, or even that 25% is too high, or 50% is too low. Only other attorneys within that jurisdiction and area of practice can give you a valid appraisal of the appropriateness of a fee arrangement for a particular case.

I usually suggest to prospective clients that they confer with several attorneys on any given matter, to search for the attorney and firm with which they can feel confident. For a number of other factors to consider, you may want to look at the seventeen pages on my law office site that deal specifically with information about how to shop for and hire an attorney (if you haven’t already).

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