What if the lawyer says he does not want to handle your case for a contingency fee and wants you to pay cash? That is easy. He is telling you that he does not have confidence in your case or in his ability to win. If he does not think he is going to make money on your case, he does not have to take it on contingency basis and can ask for a cash contract. In that instance, thank him for his time and talk to another lawyer.
If you have the money and think you will win big, or your case will settle quickly and do not want to give up a large portion of your recovery, consider paying cash. If you agree on a cash contract, the lawyer should give you a written estimate of your expenses. Then, add 50% to that figure to allow for unforeseen expenses and inflation, while your case drags through the court.
If you elect a cash contract, you will have to give the lawyer a retainer of several thousand dollars to get the case started. But, if the lawyer asks you for a much larger retainer up front, tell him to forget it. Why? Because, if you run out of money, you can probably renegotiate your contract with him and convert it to a contingency contract. However, if you have a contingency contract, the lawyer will not consent to change it to a cash contract, once he has begun work on your case.
Your state’s percentages on contingency contracts are maximum fees. Nothing prevents a lawyer from giving you a better deal, if you have a good case. If the lawyer tells you that his fees are set by the state supreme court, and he cannot give you a better deal, that is not true. Price fixing is illegal, whether it is done by car manufacturers, doctors, or lawyers. Maximum fees were set by the supreme courts in most states because of widespread gouging by lawyers, but there are no minimum fees.
The Rule Is: Do not proceed with a lawsuit unless your lawyer is competent and enthusiastic about winning. With an enthusiastic lawyer, you may or may not win. But, with a lawyer who would not risk his time on your case, you are a loser from the start.
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