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How are employment attorneys paid?

Tracy, CA |

Are they paid on contingency like personal injury lawyers?


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Attorney answers 3


It depends on the legal claims and the attorney's law practice. Contingency fees make sense when there is a potential for a lump-sum resolution to the case. Not all employment cases have that potential.

If you have a potential legal situation, it would help us respond if you gave us a little bit of information.

*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***


Sometimes, attorneys who practice employment law are paid on a contingency basis. It depends on many factors and the type of case it is. Among the considerations are: the strength of the case, the amount of damages involved, the number of hours estimated to be worked by the attorney; the estimated costs that are expected to be incurred, and various intangibles too numerous to mention here. Attorneys who agree to take on a case on a contingency basis are essentially making a business decision that doing so is a good investment of their time, work efforts and money. The attorney and client are, for all intents and purposes, business partners. Most of us who have done this for a long time, have learned to take on contingency cases very selectively.

There are some cases that can be handled on an hourly or flat fee basis, as well. This is why it is advisable for employees with potential cases to interview a few attorneys. There are some who are more willing to take a contingency case than others and even when we do, the terms of the contingency fee and agreement can vary.

They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.


Employment attorneys representing the employee as plaintiff are often paid on a contingency fee basis, whereas employment attorneys representing the employer are more often than not paid on an hourly basis.

However, there is no rule or requirement regarding the method in which an attorney can be paid, and in fact, there could be any combination of contingency fee, fixed fee, and hourly fee for any given matter.

Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

Michael John Tonsing

Michael John Tonsing


There is also variation as to how "costs" are handled. Costs, like filing fees and court reporter fees (for depositions) can start to add up. Ask about costs, too.