Do Employment Attorneys Work on a Contingency Basis? What Does That Mean?

March 3, 2020

You should not let your personal finances keep you from contacting an attorney. If you need legal assistance with an employment law matter, you need to turn to an experienced attorney for help. The problem is that many people do not know that many employment attorneys work on a contingency basis. They don’t even understand what that means. Does that sound familiar? Here is what you need to know about how employment attorneys collect their fees.

Understanding a Contingency Basis

When fees are set on a contingency basis, it benefits you. The attorney doesn’t collect any retainer from you. You don’t pay anything unless the attorney settles or wins your case. At that point, the agreed-upon percentage is taken from the money you gain. It’s estimated that the average contingency fee for employment law in the U.S. is around 40%. If you won a settlement of $500,000 and had the 40% contingency fee, your attorney would get $200,000 of that $500,000.

There’s a downside to this. An attorney who agrees to a contingency fee must win the case in order to get paid. Law firms may be very picky about the cases the lawyers take on. If there is a slim chance of winning the case, it’s unlikely you’ll find legal representation. Besides, you may feel disappointed if you agree to that percentage if the case is settled in a short amount of time. You may feel the fee should be lower because of the time it took, but you pay the same no matter what.

You also need to be aware that if you have to pay income tax on the money the only money the IRS states you can deduct from the sum you’re awarded for an employment-related case are medical expenses. If you won an award for wrongful termination and underwent counseling for anxiety related to the loss of a job, you can deduct that. The rest of the award could be subject to taxes.

The contingency fee schedule is written out and presented for you to sign. This ensures you see exactly what percentage is taken from any financial award you receive. You’re protected by the American Bar Association who states that contingency fees must be “reasonable.” Be sure you read over the full contract. If you have questions, ask them. If something isn’t clear, don’t sign until it is.

Hiring an Attorney to Take Your Case

While employment attorneys work on a contingency basis, they’re not all equal. Look for attorneys that offer a free consultation. Make the most of that meeting. Ask the right questions and make sure you get a full answer. You want to know the contingency fee schedule, but you also want to make sure there are no hidden fees that could add to that percentage.

Find out who is going to be handling your case. If it’s a junior associate, the experience level isn’t the same as a partner’s knowledge. Ask for information about cases the attorney who is taking your case has handled. How many of those cases led to a positive outcome? Has the attorney won a settlement or judgment each time? This is going to matter when it comes to the success rate.

Ask for references you can call or email. The reviews you see online may be authentic, but some firms may boost their rating by getting friends or family members to write reviews. It’s always best to see if you could talk to a person the lawyer has represented.

Take the attorney’s name and do your own research. Search for that name online and look for court cases that have been in the news or are in online public documents. You’ll be able to read more on how well the attorney did during his or her trials.

Finally, ask what kind of workload the attorney has. If you’re one of a dozen clients, you may not get the same attention you’d get at a firm where you’re one of the only clients they have. You want a law firm that focuses on the clientele rather than making a bundle of cash by taking on too much work. If the attorney you hire cannot give your case his or her full attention, you’re better off looking for a different employment attorney.

Shegerian Conniff only accepts a certain number of clients at one time. Why? The attorneys want to make sure each client’s case gets their full attention. When you hire the California employment attorneys to help you with your case, you come first. Complete the online form or call (310) 322-7500 to schedule a free consultation.