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  • Writer's picturePeter Lamont, Esq.

Why won't an attorney take my case on a contingency basis?

A common question that I receive all the time is, "Why won't an attorney take my case on a contingency basis? I see it on the news all the time that an attorney will accept a contingency fee, but why won't an attorney accept my case?" Inside today's video I'm going to answer that question for you. Today, we're going to be looking at a question that I get all the time. In fact, I just received a telephone call about it yesterday. I had someone call me up and say, "I've been sued, and I just don't have the money to hire a lawyer to pay hourly. I need somebody that will take this case on a contingency basis. I've called 15 lawyers, and nobody will accept the case. I don't understand why. At this point I just want to know why no lawyer will take this on a contingency basis." I spent some time with her, and I explained it to her, and that's what we're going to talk about today. Contingency fees that attorneys advertise are primarily for collection cases, when you are the one that is owed the money, and personal injury cases. A contingency fee is essentially an agreement by the attorney that he or she will take a percentage of what you ultimately recover. The standard percent is 33-1/3%. It can vary in different states, and it can vary between you and your attorney. Maybe your attorney has agreed to a lower percentage. The point here is that the attorney agrees to get paid for his or her work based upon a percentage of what you ultimately recover in your lawsuit. Just as an aside, understand that attorneys will generally always require the client to pay for actual fees or costs, not attorney's fees, not paying the attorney, but if you need to file a complaint, and it's $150.00, they'll pass that cost along to the client in most cases. If you need to hire an expert witness, they're going to pass that along, too, as well. A contingency fee arrangement means that you don't have to pay your lawyer anything. Your lawyer is investing in your case, taking a gamble, a chance on your case because if they don't recover for you, they're not going to get any money. In the case of the woman that called me yesterday, she was being sued. She was being sued for, I don't know, something over $15,000.00. She wanted an attorney to take the case on a contingency basis, and no one would do it. She didn't understand why, and I explained it to her. The reason is because the attorney can never get paid for his or her work when you're defending a claim because there's no money that you're going to be entitled to. The reason that no attorney would accept this client who called yesterday is because they can't get paid. They can't recoup their money or their time because there's no money to be had because that person's being sued. Contingency fee cases only work when there is the potential for recovery. After, of course, I explained it to the woman, she completely understood and decided to handle her defense pro se, meaning on her own. I gave her a little bit of guidance, and I think she'll be okay. That's the distinction. That's why attorneys don't accept every case on a contingency fee basis because they need to pay overhead, the lawyers that work with them, their staff, and if there's no hope of getting paid on a case, then it's a pro bono case, not a contingency fee case. I hope that that clears up some of the confusion about when a lawyer will accept a contingency case and why you might be running up against an obstacle where an attorney will not accept your case. If you have more questions about this topic or any topic, please feel free to contact me. You can reach me by telephone at 973-949-3770 or e-mail me at I'm always here to answer your questions. Please don't forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel and that way you're notified when new videos are posted. I also want to let you know I really do appreciate all the comments and feedback that I receive from you guys. I read and respond to every comment made, and I would like you to keep them coming because it helps me provide you with better content, content that you need or that you're looking for answers about. Thanks, and thanks for joining me today. I'll see you next time.

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