You ask a philosophical question. There are books, seminars, and websites devoted to the subject. There is no one answer.
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The fees in class actions are established by the courts after application by the attorneys usually at the conclusion of the litigation when the results recovered or achieved are known. The base level is about 25% with the court awarded more or less measured by certain factors set forth in the cases.
The amount varies and must be approved by the court. It also depends on which court is making the decision. And whether the fee is from a common fund or additional to the class recovery
In a federal court common fund case attorney fees are awarded based on percentage of the recovery. This is typically between 25-33 1/3 percent. In state (Florida) court the fee is based solely on the amount of time expended and the reasonable hourly rate adjusted by a multiple of 5.
In a non common fund case fees are normally negotiated between the parties or decided by the court based on a pure load star analysis. If in federal court there is no multiplier but a multiplier is awardable in state court actions
The court approves attorney's fees in a class action settlement. It is usually a percentage, but a contingency fee contract with the class representative has little bearing on the judge's decision. The judge will consider many factors in approving the requested attorney's fees.
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It really depends. Generally speaking 25-33% is common, but there are lots of factors that go into the allocation of attorneys' fees. For one, not all the benefits in a class action settlement are monetary. Occasionally, the Defendant agrees to change its behavior so that the class members aren't injured in the future. That confers a benefit to the Class, but it doesn't show up as an amount paid to the class members. In that context, the Court might award a higher percentage of fees to Class Counsel.
Now that said, if you feel that the amount of attorneys' fees is too high, you can, as a Class Member, file an objection to the amount of attorneys fees paid in the settlement.
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