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Is my contingency retainer agreement a standard one? Is it typical for a client to pay for expert witnesses etc.

New York, NY |

I have just signed a contingency retainer w/ a personal injury attorney....fee 1?3 of the total gross amt and that % is a lien on the ultimate recovery.
I will be responsible for court reporters,court fees,experts, consultants,investigators,Admin. fees,WESTLAW legalresearch (?). I may be asked to provide advances to be put into an attorney trust acct.< from which expenses may be dispersed. Any balance remaining will be refunded to me.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. It is impossible to say for sure without being able to see your agreement. But this sounds pretty standard. Here in Michigan, the courts have determined that the client is required to pay for the expenses of the lawsuit. Normally, in Michigan, you would get credit for paying these, when the lawsuit settles or a judgment is awarded. The fee would be on the "net recovery," not the gross. This could certainly be a difference from one state to another.

    Best of luck to you!

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.


  2. I never seen such clauses in the retainer:
    "I may be asked to provide advances to be put into an attorney trust acct.


  3. While it is not standard practice to establish an escrow account to pay for disbursements it is standard practice to make it the client's responsibility to pay same. Many attorneys will waive disbursements if the case is unsuccessful. Most will advance the fees on behalf of the client. The rest of the retainer seems standard.

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  4. Most of the retainer is fairly standard. Attorneys have a right to collect expert fees in advance, but few do,and even few put in the retainer up front for the fear of offending and deterring prospective clients. . I am concerned that the clauses in the contract you signed, will be used toward the end of the case by the attorney to force you to settle. Don't be surprised if once a settlement offer is made, the attorney turns to you and says "take the offer or put 30k in the expert fund so we can go to trial, and if you don't, I'll withdraw. " Anyhow, let us know in a couple of years how it works out.

    If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email - Jgold@goldbenes.com

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