Answer: generally no, but maybe.
Let us explain.
Do Lawyers Get Paid More If They Win A Case? (EXPLAINED)
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The Freedom To Contract
The relationship between an attorney and her client comes about as the result of an agreement.
This agreement is usually in writing, but covers the services that client expects to be rendered and the payment the attorney expects to receive.
While certain types of payment arrangements are commonly known (hour retainer agreement deposited in a trust account by cash, check or credit card payment, flat fee to be paid up front that is earned upon receipt, and a contingency fee agreement where the attorney only gets paid for attorney time upon successful outcome in the case.
But in general, if the payment terms are fair and reasonable to both parties and do not implicate the attorney in any sort of ethical violations, the parties are free to contract as they wish about compensation for fees.
For example, as an attorney, our firm occasionally accepted vehicles, jewelry, real estate, live animals (meat on the hoof), and baked goods as payments for legal services.
Attorney Fees Based on Outcomes
The contingent fee arrangement (where the attorney gets no fees if the case is unsuccessful) is pretty well known.
Usually the payment for attorney work in contingent fee case is a percentage of the overall funds awarded in the case to the client.
If there is no recovery (meaning the case is lost), then the attorney receives no compensation for the time invested by the attorneys or the attorney’s staff.
Some people do not realize however that many of these agreements contain provisions that change the percentage that the attorney receives depending upon when the recovery was achieved.
In some instances, attorneys receive a smaller amount of the payment was received before filing the complaint, or before the case goes to trial.
Due to the greater time and expense incurred in taking a case to trial, it does not seem unreasonable to seek a greater amount in fees.
This also helps unreasonable clients accept a settlement rather than demanding a trial on the principle of the matter.
Continency fees provide everyone that extra incentive to work hard on a case, as the more that is recovered, the more the attorney earns on the case.
This type of arrangement is definitely risky for the attorney and her firm, but that high percentage makes it worthwhile for many firms to take the risk on what looks like a good case.
In return, the client gets the security that he won’t have to pay any attorney fees if the case does not provide the result everyone hoped for.
Could Attorneys Get A Bonus For Winning?
While it is not common for attorneys to negotiate a greater payment in the event that the case is successful on top of the usual contingent fee to be paid in a successful case, the principles around the establishment of the attorney-client relationship do not prohibit it.
In fact, there are some agreements where the attorneys could get a certain percentage boost if the recovery exceeds an established threshold.
In the end, the key is usually whether the terms of the compensation are fair to both parties, and not extraordinary.
The fees shouldn’t be taking advantage of anyone.
And the person making the decision about the fees should be in both sound mind and body, plus not under any duress from the attorney to come to the agreement.
If you have all of these elements, then a written clause providing the attorney more if the case is won (like with a positive jury verdict) is possible.
They just aren’t that common.
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