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January 08, 2015

How Do Attorneys Get Paid?


When deciding whether to retain an attorney, one of the most important pieces of information you need is what is this going to cost me. Unlike most attorneys who bill by the hour, personal injury attorneys charge contingent fees. This means I get paid a percentage of your recovery. While this is subject to negotiation on a case by case basis, most of the time, the contingent fee is 33% of the total recovery. A simple way to define a contingent fee is that  You don’t pay me unless we win our case.

We are in this together

Runner on a track We’re in it to win it, and once we start we will see it through to the end.

From my standpoint as an attorney, I greatly prefer to be paid on a contingent basis. This is how I have worked for my entire career, spanning well over 25 years. While I know most attorneys charge hourly fees, which they get whether they win or lose, I have never been comfortable with this arrangement. I have always believed you should gain benefit from retaining me as your lawyer. If I take money from you and don’t get you positive results, I have not accomplished anything. I would hate to get paid for losing a case.

When you retain me on a contingent basis, literally, we are in it together. I am by your side, your biggest advocate, until the very end. If you don’t win, I don’t get paid. This is how it should be. In this way, you and I both have a very real stake in the outcome.

I have found over the course of my career that my clients appreciate this arrangement. While one- third is certainly a lot of money, I invest time and out of pocket expenses into the case for months or even years before you ever pay me anything. Further, if you don’t recover, you never will pay me anything.

As a result of this type of contract, you have the ability to pursue lengthy and expensive litigation that you might otherwise not be able to afford.  You have already been injured financially by the accident, you don’t need to suffer even more, if you don’t win, because of attorney fees! Lastly, I think my clients find it reassuring, when they see how much time, effort and money I invest into their case that I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think we would win.