People who are injured often enter into contingency fee arrangements with their lawyers. At the most basic level, a contingency fee arrangement provides that some or all of a law firm’s pay for representing the client will be paid only if the firm achieves a successful outcome in the case—the lawyers’ fees are contingent upon winning in court or reaching a favorable settlement. But the details of a contingency fee arrangement can be a bit more involved.
All lawyers licensed to practice law in Nevada are subject to the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct. The rules govern numerous aspects of the business of law, as well as the conduct of lawyers toward clients, courts, and each other. To be valid and enforceable a contingency fee arrangement must comply with Rule 1.5, which requires such agreements be in writing and signed by the client. Rule 1.5 also requires that contingency fee agreements spell out the following matters:
- The method that will be used to determine the contingency fee, including the percentage or percentages that the attorney will be paid upon successful completion of litigation or settlement, or if the case is appealed.
- Whether the attorney’s expenses will be deducted from any award the client receives, and whether expenses will come out of the award before or after calculating the lawyer’s fee.
- Whether the client is obligated to reimburse the attorney’s expenses, regardless of outcome.
- That the client may be responsible for paying the costs of the other party should the other party prevail and reimbursing the other side is required by law.
- That the client may be liable for malicious prosecution or abuse of process if bringing a frivolous lawsuit only to harass or coerce a settlement.
There are two specific situations where a lawyer cannot use a contingency fee, both for public policy reasons. The first is in divorce cases where the arrangement would make the lawyer’s fee contingent upon completing a divorce or achieving a certain amount of alimony, support, or other property settlement. The second is for attorneys who represent clients in criminal defense.
The chief benefit to clients of contingency fee arrangements is the way they manage a client’s costs. The client will know from the beginning what costs—if any—will be the client’s responsibility. Instead of worrying about the cost of litigation, the injured person can instead put energy where it matters: on healing. Meanwhile, the defendant may not have the same benefit, putting pressure on them to resolve the case quickly.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served injured clients in the Las Vegas community for over 45 years. We typically work on a contingency basis so our clients can have peace of mind about what their case is costing them. If you have been injured call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.