What exactly is a contingency fee lawyer?

by | Jul 3, 2017 | Blog

You find the words ‘contingency fee lawyer’ almost everywhere. You can see them in TV ads, on the sides of buses and on huge billboards during your daily commute.

But what exactly is a contingency fee lawyer? And more importantly, why should you hire one? Read on to find out more.

contingency fee lawyer

Contingency fee lawyers assist in personal injury cases. A Storyblocks image

If you and your lawyer come to what’s called a ‘contingency fee agreement’, that means that you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless they recover some money as part of your court case. ‘Contingency’ and ‘contingent’ basically have the same meaning as ‘unless’; so, if you see a billboard for a lawyer which says ‘My fees are contingent on me winning your case and recovering money for you!’, that essentially means ‘I don’t earn any fees unless I win your case and recover money for you!’

Contingency fee agreements have boomed in popularity over the past twenty years or so. This is because taking somebody to court, even if you’re completely in the right, can turn out to be an exceedingly costly experience. Hiring a contingency fee lawyer allows you to mitigate some of that cost. You only pay for your attorney’s time if your case happens to be successful. It’s the perfect arrangement!

A contingency fee is usually a percentage as opposed to a flat amount. This means that you’ll never leave court out of pocket after a personal injury case, because the damages you receive will always total more than what you pay out. The only exception is if you win a very, very small amount- say a couple of hundred dollars. Because you still have to pay certain expenses like filing fees, you might pay out more than you receive. So do think carefully and consult with your attorney before going forward with your case. Always make sure it’s worth the time and effort for you both to go forward with filing a personal injury suit.


What kinds of cases will a contingency fee lawyer take on?

A contingency fee lawyer is the same as any other lawyer. As one myself, I went to the same law school and graduated with the same honors that my peers, who aren’t contingency fee lawyers, did. But as part of my business, and my beliefs, I choose to work on a contingency fee basis. I believe that the full power of the law should be available to everybody. Not just those who aren’t afraid to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an attorney, whether or not they’re certain of winning their case. Contingency fees help anybody and everybody to access the law, and I believe that’s a good thing.

Contingency fees don’t apply to every field of law. Take drafting a will for instance: there’s no need for a contingency fee, because you either draft a will, or you don’t. If you do, then you’ll have to pay for your lawyer’s time, whether you pay up front or afterwards. Contingency fee lawyers also generally don’t represent clients in criminal defense cases, because an attorney is expected to fight their client’s case to defend their legal rights, not for damages.

That’s why a contingency fee lawyer generally works on a specific kind of case: personal injury cases. Injuries like these disproportionately affect those who can’t necessarily afford an attorney out of pocket: everyday workers injured while doing their job, or rear ended while driving home from work. If, say, you’re in a car accident then you need your money to cover time off work during recovery. That’s not to mention getting your car back on the road. This is expensive enough, never mind paying up front for an attorney. That’s why contingency fees were invented. And that’s why I work on a contingency basis.


Why should you hire a contingency fee lawyer?

The first and most obvious reason why you should consider hiring a contingency fee lawyer is the cost. Going to court can be prohibitively expensive. In fact, it can be so expensive that some lawyers win their cases- mostly for corporations and big business- just by prolonging your time in court for so long that you can’t afford to push ahead, even if you know you’re in the right. With a contingency fee lawyer, you can rest assured that you’ll get a fair hearing. And, of course, you’ll only pay my fees if I win for you.

Another reason to hire a contingency fee lawyer is that you know I’ll put my all into it for you. If I don’t put my all into helping you win, I won’t get a cent for my hard work. And as both an attorney and a person, I don’t like wasting my time. That’s not to mention that hiring a lawyer on an hourly rate can be a costly exercise. Some more unscrupulous attorneys know that if they take longer than they need to filing this paper or that paper, it’s another few days’ wages. Not so with a contingency fee lawyer. All of my time and effort will go towards you, and winning your case. And that is just how it should be.

So… What now?

If you’ve suffered a personal injury, and you weren’t to blame, you should definitely consider a contingency fee lawyer. That’s because personal injury cases are our bread and butter. I deal with personal injury cases every day; I can tell you right off the bat whether I think your case will be successful. And you know for a fact that I’ll tell you nothing but the truth, because I would be wasting my own time– and not getting paid– if I lied to you. With 10 years experience and well over a thousand cases under my belt, I bring all of my experience to the table for every client I work with. That’s a big deal considering that if I don’t win, I don’t get paid.