What is a Contingent Fee Agreement?
If you are thinking about bringing a civil lawsuit, you may have heard of arrangements where your attorney collects their fee out of the settlement or judgment. This is called a "contingent fee" agreement.
These can come in many forms. Some firms will require a 33% contingency (meaning their fee is 33% of whatever you receive). Others can go as high as 40%, still others may have the fee be based on the hours put in to the case, but still "contingent," meaning it is not owed unless and until you recover.
There are also hybrid arrangements, where you may make a flat fee payment upfront to cover the initial assessment, but the bulk of the work is litigating the matter is done on a contingent fee basis.
All of these variations are common and considered acceptable under the ethical rules governing attorneys, so long as the terms are clearly disclosed to you upfront.
These arrangements are not available in every type of case. In a business dispute, for example, you may have a hard time finding an attorney to take it on a full or partial contingent fee basis, because those cases can be complex and often involve defending against counterclaims as well as pursuing your own claims. They are most common in personal injury and plaintiffs' employment cases.
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