Attorney Fee Agreements
What are the Different Ways of Paying for an Attorney
What is a Contingent Fee ContractGenerally speaking a contingent fee agreement is one where the attorney fee comes out of any amount that is recovered either through settlement or trial. The amount of the fee is determined at the outset and may be governed by you r specific state bar or custom. Frequently, the fee is a fixed percentage of the recover, for example, one-third of the gross recovery. Often, the fee agreement may specify that the out-of-pocket case expenses incurred by the attorney will be paid back by the client separately out of the client's share of the recovery but only if there is a recovery. Contingency fee contracts should always be in writing and signed by the client and the attorney.
In What Types of Cases are Contingency Fee Contracts UtilizedMost commonly, contingency fee contracts are used in the context of personal injury, wrongful death, products liability and other similar type of claims. They are not typically associated with family law, probate, wills, estates, and defense matters, among many others.
What Happens if There is No Recovery?A contingency fee contract should specify in writing that if there is no recovery, the client will not be responsible for payment of any attorney fees or case expenses. In some jurisdictions, the losing side may be responsible for payment of the winning side's court costs or other expenses. This should be addressed in the fee contract.
Hourly Fees and Retainer AgreementsIf a contingency fee contract is not available or is not suitable, many attorneys will provide legal services under an hourly fee schedule. The amount of the hourly fee is determined by a variety of factors including the experience level of the attorney and the area of practice (complexity) of the matter. Many times the attorney or law firm will require an upfront payment called a retainer which can either be refundable or non-refundable.