Lawyers and law firms offer various arrangements for clients to pay legal fees, such as hourly fees, flat fees, retainers, payment plans, and contingency fees. Lawyers commonly use contingency representation in specific types of legal claims. This fee arrangement is most often used when the client has a high chance of recovering compensation and otherwise may have trouble affording legal representation on top of their other personal expenses.

At August Law, we have the experience and resources to take a flexible approach in tailoring fee arrangements to a client’s case and their needs and circumstances, including offering contingency representation when appropriate.

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Understanding Contingency Representation

In various legal claims, an attorney or law firm may agree to represent a claimant in a contingency fee arrangement. Contingency representation means the client does not pay a fee or retainer upfront to hire a lawyer for their case. Instead, the lawyer receives a legal fee after successfully recovering the client’s compensation through a settlement or court judgment.

A contingency fee entitles the lawyer or law firm to receive a percentage of the total compensation recovered for the client. The fee agreement signed by the client and law firm will specify the percentage that the lawyer or firm will receive as their legal fee.

Depending on the type of case, a fee agreement might call for a sliding scale that the lawyer or firm will receive as their legal fee. The percentage of recovery may increase as the case progresses and reaches various milestones, such as the filing of a complaint or going to trial, to reflect the increasing amount of work the lawyer and firm perform on the case.

In many cases, contingency representation means that the lawyer or firm will cover case costs, such as records request fees, court filing fees, postage/shipping, deposition expenses, and expert witness fees. Depending on the terms of the client’s and attorney’s fee agreement, the law firm may recover compensation for case expenses through the legal fee or obtain reimbursement for case costs on top of the legal fee.

Some law firms may negotiate hybrid hourly/contingency arrangements, where the firm will handle part of the case on contingency or switch to an hourly arrangement under specified circumstances.

Benefits of Contingency Representation

Contingency representation offers several critical benefits for clients, such as:

  • The client can avoid compounding existing financial difficulties: For clients who have suffered injuries or property damage, contingency representation avoids adding to clients’ financial burdens, such as medical expenses, property repair, or lost wages, as the client will not have to pay out of pocket to obtain legal representation. 
  • Clients can access justice: Some clients may not have the financial resources to afford high-quality legal representation. Contingency representation ensures that people with limited finances have the same access to the courts and chances of asserting their rights as well-resourced individuals and corporations. 
  • Contingency representation incentivizes lawyers to maximize clients’ financial recovery: Contingency representation aligns a lawyer’s interests with their client’s since the lawyer makes more money from the case if they maximize their client’s compensation rather than by simply working longer hours on the case. Contingency fees also incentivize law firms to work efficiently to maximize their profits. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Contingency Representation

Common questions that clients have about contingency representation include:
A contingency fee agreement typically will cover the lawyer’s fee for their services and any costs incurred to prepare and pursue the legal case. Most law firms will cover the cost of any case expenses rather than making the client pay those expenses if the client cannot afford them, because an inability to pay for medical exams or expert witnesses might jeopardize the case.
The exact percentage of the financial recovery you receive that will go towards your lawyer’s fee will depend on various factors, such as the type of claim, the amount of compensation you will likely recover, and the amount of work anticipated to pursue your case. In most cases, fees range from 20 to 40 percent of the client’s total financial recovery. Fee agreements may increase the percentage as the case advances and reaches successive stages.
Because clients have the right to legal counsel of their choice, a contingency fee agreement does not prohibit them from switching attorneys during their case. However, the client may owe compensation to their original attorney for the work that the attorney did on the client’s case. The client’s fee agreement with their original attorney may state what compensation the attorney will receive if the client discharges the attorney during the case. In some cases, the client’s original attorney and new attorney will negotiate a split of the legal fees received from the client. Alternatively, the original attorney may place a lien on the client’s case, entitling the attorney to recover fees for the fair value of their work if the client wins compensation.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Handling Your Case on Contingency

At August Law, we dedicate ourselves to winning cases at a reasonable cost to our clients. Our knowledge and experience allow us to pursue our clients’ interests efficiently. As a result, we can offer tailored fee structures based on a client’s circumstances and legal needs, including contingency fees or hybrid hourly/contingency arrangements. Contact our firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and needs with our legal team. Let’s talk about whether we can assist you through contingency representation.

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