For many people, suffering an injury is the first time in their lives when they need to talk to a lawyer. Driving through Las Vegas it’s hard to miss the billboards from attorneys who promise quick results and huge payouts for injured clients. For every “billboard” law firm there are dozens of others vying for new clients. Adding to the confusion are outfits that prey on the desperate circumstances of people who have been injured by offering pre-settlement loans, sometimes at high interest rates. All of this, combined with the stress and challenges of recovering from an injury, can be confusing. Having the help of an ethical law firm is essential for clients who are trying to make sense of it all.
Avoiding an unethical lawyer can be a simple matter of instinct. Sometimes an attorney will offer something that sounds too good to be true. But it’s always a good idea to do a little research and analysis before working with an attorney, especially if the attorney isn’t one that was recommended by a trusted friend. There are a number of ways to examine whether an attorney is ethical:
- A clean bar profile. A simple step is to search for the attorney on the Nevada State Bar Association’s website. Every licensed attorney’s status and disciplinary history is available on the site for the public to examine. If an attorney has been censured by the bar for unethical behavior, that should serve as a red flag.
- Willingness to provide free, substantive consultations. Free initial consultations are a staple of personal injury practice. An initial consultation serves numerous purposes, the most important being to help the client get a feel for the options available for their case. A consultation also helps both the client and the law firm decide if the firm is the right fit for what the client needs. An attorney who doesn’t provide free consultations may be a good lawyer who simply has a different business model, but for many injured clients the free initial consultation is key part of their process of evaluating a potential attorney. Clients shouldn’t have to pay for this step.
- Clarity about process or fees. An ethical attorney will be up-front with new clients about how the case will be handled by the firm and how the firm will be paid. The attorney should provide a clear, written statement of how fees and expenses will be paid. If the client will be asked to assume certain costs, such as the fees for expert witnesses, that should be stated at the outset of the engagement. A lawyer who draws in clients with promises of low fees and huge awards, but who springs inflated expenses on the client at the end of the process, is not acting in an ethical manner.
- Putting the client first. An attorney’s obligation is to provide rigorous, passionate representation of the whole client. Among other things, this means that the relationship between the attorney needs to be about more than just money. The attorney needs to be a careful, thoughtful listener. Many law firms operate as “litigation shops,” which try to earn money for their partners by doing high volume, low quality work. Clients of these types of firms may have difficulty getting personal attention from their attorneys, who are busy chasing down new clients rather than serving the needs of their existing ones.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. We are proud of our long tradition of thoughtful, caring service to each and every client. If you have been injured and you have questions about how to pursue a case, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or through our website.
At GGRM we offer free initial consultations to potential clients who are looking for help with their cases. A question that many people have is what goes on in a “consultation.” Is it just a sales pitch for the firm? Is it a trick to draw people into paying fees? The truth is that a free consultation is a good way to ensure that the client’s best interests are served, while also giving the law firm an opportunity to examine whether it can offer the kind of help the client really needs.
In an initial consultation there are several important things that will be discussed:
- The facts of the case. Whether the client is looking for advice about a car accident, a dog attack, or a workers’ compensation claim, the attorneys will ask questions to develop a picture of the story behind the potential claim. Attorneys may ask questions that probe into areas that are surprising or unexpected, because the merits of a claim may rest on grounds that a non-lawyer wouldn’t know to expect.
- The client’s goals. An essential feature of a good personal injury law firm is a commitment to the personal needs and goals of each client. In a “litigation shop” the emphasis can be on high volume, cookie-cutter approaches that leave clients out of the loop and feeling pressured to take steps they’d rather not take. At GGRM we take the time to get to know our clients so that we can incorporate the whole picture into our strategy.
- Potential legal options. Filing a lawsuit isn’t always the right solution in every case. After listening to the client’s story an attorney may offer several avenues for addressing the client’s problem. That might mean suggesting a lawsuit, or it might involve other solutions, such as filing a complaint with a regulatory agency, making a claim with an insurer, or opening a negotiation. For each option, the attorney will describe the overall process and the attorney’s opinion about the likelihood of achieving the client’s goals. By discussing options the attorney gives the client an opportunity to understand what he or she will get by working with the firm.
- An explanation of costs and the attorney-client relationship. If it appears that the client will want to engage the attorney to assist with the case the attorney should take the time to explain how the firm makes its money. Many personal injury cases are handled on contingency, which means that the firm gets paid from the compensation award after a successful outcome. If the facts of the client’s case dictate a different approach the attorney will discuss those issues.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in cases involving personal injury, auto accidents, and workers’ compensation disputes. If you are searching for a lawyer to assist with your case, we are happy to provide you with a free attorney consultation. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.
After being injured in an accident, choosing the right attorney can feel like picking from a hat. There are dozens of personal injury law firms in the Las Vegas area alone. Anyone who has driven through Las Vegas has seen the barrage of billboards from lawyers looking for clients. A similar barrage is found across the media spectrum, from radio and television to the Internet. In the face of this flood of information (and misinformation) it is important to refocus on the things that really matter when it comes to choosing an attorney.
- Personal service. Some law firms have adopted a “high volume” approach to litigation. Such firms hope to make more money for their partners by adopting a standardized, impersonal process for each client. At GGRM we believe that a quality law firm treats each client with the respect and attention they deserve. Someone who is dealing with a serious injury probably has a wide range of related problems that are adding to the stress of being hurt. To really serve the client’s interests an attorney has to take time to tailor legal strategies around the personal needs of the client. That means taking the time to get to know the client, treating the client like a person and not like a number.
- Experience. The difference between a relatively junior attorney and one with experience can be enormous. Mastering the procedural components of litigation is only part of the process of becoming a competent attorney. A seasoned litigator knows how to craft arguments that anticipate the other side’s strategies and frame the debate in a favorable light.
- Resources. Personal injury litigation can sometimes require sophisticated outside resources, like expert witnesses. It also requires a quality team of professionals within the firm, such as experienced paralegals. A common misconception is that only the largest firms have access to these resources. The truth is that even small firms can have a deep pool of resources available to support a client’s case. Part of developing those resources comes through a firm’s experience, but it also comes from a willingness to invest in the case.
- Fee structure. Law firms charge clients in a variety of ways. A typical personal injury case is taken on contingency, which means the firm doesn’t get paid until it has reached a favorable outcome for the client. Not all contingency fee arrangements are created equal. Some firms try to pass on costs to clients regardless of the outcome of the case, and many firms charge exceptionally high fees even for cases that are fairly straightforward. An ethical firm not only explains in detail how its contingency fee arrangements work, but also works hard to keep its costs under control.
The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We are proud of our long-standing tradition of providing high quality, personalized service to our clients. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.
In a contingency fee arrangement a law firm agrees to represent a client with the understanding that the firm will be compensated for its work, in whole or in part, out of the client’s award at the end of the case. The details of contingency fees vary depending on the nature of the case, the client’s preferences, and applicable rules. Whether a contingency fee arrangement is the right choice for the client depends on the client’s needs and goals.
Why would attorneys work on a contingency basis?
Clients can sometimes wonder why a law firm would agree to work on a case “for free” with payment dependent on a successful outcome. Firms need to pay their employees and office expenses. In many cases they also hire consultants and expert witnesses to build a strong case. As a consequence, a firm bears the risk that the final compensation in the case won’t cover its expenses.
Despite these risks, law firms work on contingency because it is still a good business arrangement and, more importantly, it allows attorneys to fulfill their role as public servants. Many potential clients lack the resources to pay fees in a conventional arrangement. By working on contingency a firm can serve a much wider population than would otherwise be possible. A firm that works on contingency isn’t concerned about the client’s ability to pay. Instead, it can focus on the merits of the case and work diligently to help the client recover compensation.
Are there downsides for clients in contingency fee arrangements?
A contingency fee agreement offers clients a range of benefits. These include:
- Access to an attorney for clients who lack financial resources to pay fees out of pocket.
- A clear understanding of how an attorney’s fees will be paid and what costs the client may need to bear as the case proceeds.
- Unmistakable alignment of interests between the client and attorney, both of whom want to maximize financial recovery.
A firm that works on contingency sometimes needs to protect itself from losses when a case appears to be unwinnable. One downside a client may find in contingency arrangements is that firms are unwilling or unable to meet the client’s demands that the client would otherwise pay for. Such circumstances are relatively rare and hopefully are clear from the beginning of the relationship so the client and firm can determine early on whether they are a good fit.
Call us to learn more about how contingency fees work
For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area. We often work on a contingency basis to help clients recover compensation in cases involving personal injury, workers’ compensation disputes, and other matters. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.
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.