Contingency lawyer





The "American Rule" provides that each party in a lawsuit ordinarily shall bear its own attorney's fees.  Legal fees may place substantial burdens upon a client. The hourly fee agreement typically contains no ceiling or estimate of total fees and costs, and fees are not related to results.   In any hourly case, legal fees can exceed a recovery and a client may be required to pay substantial monies for a losing case.    

A contingent agreement ties the lawyer's fee to the success of the case.  A full contingency  provides for no fee where there is no success.  There are various types of contingency agreement.

A. Percentage contingency

A lawyer may agree to take a fixed percentage of any recovery such as one third.  This type of contingency agreement is frequently used in personal injury cases.

B. Commercial Cases handled on contingency

Traditionally personal injury claims have been handled on contingency; commercial litigation on a hourly basis.   See Garoupa, Cashing by the Hour: Why Large Law Firms Prefer Hourly Fees over Contingent Fees,  J Economics & Law, Vol. 24, 458 (2008).    Savvy businessman are increasingly looking to contingency agreements, arguing that if the lawyer foresees success, why should he be unwilling to adopt an agreement whereby he is paid only upon that success  or recovery.  A contingency agreement provides for a percentage of recovery, or measures fees upon some other measure of success.

Our office handles various forms of commercial and civil litigation on contingency. 

C. Hourly or Other contingency agreement

In some cases, the lawyer will receive a retainer or up-front payment and bill for his time based upon an hourly rate.  Alternatively, the lawyer could calculate his time on an hourly basis, but provide that if the case is unsuccessful there would be no fee. 

D. Handling by our office

We provide a free initial consultation and contingent representations in many cases we accept.   Each case is individually evaluated (see our pages on case evaluation).

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Law Offices of Howard A. Gutman,
230 Route 206, Flanders, New Jersey 07836
(973) 598-1980, E-mail
Fax (973) 531-4110

New York Office
315 Madison Avenue, Suite 901
New York, New York 10017


We offer a free initial telephone consultation to discuss your case. Please feel free to call or e-mail our office.


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