A common attorney’s fee charged by personal injury lawyers who are competent and intend to provide full services to their client is a one-third (33 1/3%) contingency fee if the case does not require litigation. There are some so-called “discount” lawyers who will offer to handle personal injury cases for a twenty-five percent contingency fee. The Cooper Law Firm is not a discount law firm and we do not take cases where we will provide less than full legal representation. If you are considering hiring one of the so-called “discount” lawyers, you should ask yourself what is it about that firm’s practices that permits it to charge less for its services. Do they do it by providing less service? Do they do it by having work that a lawyer should, or would ordinarily, perform and instead have that work performed by non-lawyers? Will the “discount” lawyer personally make all tactical and strategic decisions, including the actual negotiation of the claim, with the insurance company? A consumer should be very careful hiring a lawyer who discounts his or her fees, and you should make sure that the lawyer you are contracting with is going to actually perform and make the legal decisions, and such are not being delegated to non-lawyers.
Another issue you should be aware of with respect to not only discount lawyers, but any contingency lawyer, is to make sure that they do not charge any fees simply to open your file, or take your case. Some lawyers will advertise a discount fee, but will charge you a “cost” for opening the file, or doing some other ministerial act. You should regard this effectively as a fee, and understand that you are then effectively paying more than the agreed upon contingency percentage. A contingency fee lawyer should not charge you anything unless he or she is successful on the case, and you should not be charged for the ministerial acts of his or her office taking your case and/or opening a file.
While we have been largely discussing the so-called “discount” lawyers, there are also other lawyers that will charge a contingency fee greater than one-third for settling a standard reasonably clear liability case without litigation. This firm has seen cases in which lawyers have charged forty to fifty percent to handle a standard reasonably clear liability personal injury case. A standard, reasonably clear automobile case should not involve a contingency fee of more than one-third prior to any litigation. Fees can vary if the case has to be litigated, but you should be very careful about paying an attorney more than a one–third fee in a standard automobile case in which there are no complex liability, medical or legal issues and in which a settlement is reached prior to litigation.
The contingency fee between a lawyer and his client is completely negotiable as a matter of law, however, that should not be an invitation on the part of the lawyer to charge too much. If you are represented by the Cooper Law Firm, you will be charged the same as every other client in a similarly-situated case, and we will not discount, nor are we going to inflate, our normal and customary fees or expenses.