Q. Explain contingency fees and why they may be appropriate?
A. Representation on a contingency fee basis generally means the attorneys are entitled to receive payment for our legal services on behalf of our clients only as a percentage of the financial compensation actually recovered for the client. Where representation is on a contingency fee basis, the percentage will be based upon the complexity of the legal representation, including the amount of time and effort anticipated, and upon the likelihood of the claim succeeding. If the claim is altogether unsuccessful, the attorneys are not paid for their time, regardless of the number of hours expended.
Absent the option of legal representation on a contingent fee basis, only wealthy individuals could afford to pursue a lawsuit seeking compensation for serious bodily injuries and harms.
Another advantage of contingency fees is that the client's best financial interest is consistent with the lawyer's financial interest. A good financial outcome for the client generally results in a good financial outcome for the lawyer. Conversely, the lawyer is not compensated if the outcome for the client is not favorable. Similarly, the lawyer has no incentive to unnecessarily prolong litigation or to spend time on legal tasks that are not beneficial to the client. Where lawyers are paid by the hour (as are most defense lawyers in civil lawsuits), they receive compensation even when they lose. Moreover, a lawyer paid by the hour has no financial incentive to resolve a case without a trial or to otherwise hasten conclusion or resolution of the dispute.