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Greedy Trial Lawyer

How "Standard" Is The Contingency Fee?

April 06, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Category: Seeing Clearly Now

Yes, trial lawyers who represent injured victims almost always are retained on a contingency fee basis. No, it is not the evil twin of usury. But, it has become "standard." That term gets an up close and personal look by an ethicist at Harvard.

David Giacalone, posting on f/k/a...., presents a lengthy discussion of the contingency fee in the practice of personal injury law.

I have excerpted only one paragraph which provides the coloration of the discussion. Despite David's attitude (which may be just poetic license in his case)the article is worth a read.

contingency fees: do "standard" fees still exist?

Pity the poor personal injury lawyer -- he just doesn't have enough hands. In addition to a perennial gladhand, plus the one needed for patting his/her own back (over free services, selflessness, and gladitorial courage), the p/i lawyer has had to weigh just how to talk about the contingency fee that gets presented to virtually every client, in p/i cases all over town.

David may not appreciate that even the greediest personal injury attorney frequently finds it necessary or appropriate to reduce the agreed-upon contingency rate at the conclusion of the case. The contingency fee arrangement does set the ceiling for the fee at the inception of the attorney-client relationship. However, the realities of the outcome or the need to get to an outcome acceptable to the client often mean downward adjustments in the fee occur.

David may be unaware that reductions of 10% to 50% are quite common in settled cases. He also may be unaware that some firms have established in-house rules that require automatic reductions in contingency fees where the client's net would fall below the fee calculated as a percentage.

Being a Greedy Trial Lawyer does not imply a lack of ethics or an inability to deal with the realities of a fully developed case. Being the client of a Greedy Trial Lawyer does not imply an inability to discuss the attorney fee during the representation where a discussion or reconsideration may be appropriate.

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