< Back to resouces

The Cost of Going to Trial

Article By Bob Johnson in Helpful Articles



We all know that going to court isn’t exactly the cheapest thing to do. A lot of fees and expenses go into the process. Contingent fees, conditional fees, and other fees can understandably create a lot of stress as someone considers going to trial. To give our clients the best opportunity to a fair trial, we choose to handle cases on a contingency fee basis.

What is a contingent fee?
As defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, a contingent fee is a “fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is favorably settled out of court…. Contingent fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the client’s net recovery.”

In other words, you only pay a fee if you get a financial recovery, and the lawyer is paid for their performance at the end of the case. This is different from the traditional lawyer-client relationship, where the lawyer is paid on an hourly basis. In that situation, a lot of money is usually required up front in order to hire (or retain) the lawyer.

Contingency fees help ensure justice
For over 200 years, the contingency fee system has provided Americans with a degree of access to justice that is unheard of in most other countries. Our system allows people who cannot afford to pay upfront legal fees to obtain representation on a contingency fee basis.

The contingency fee gives citizens the keys to the courthouse regardless of their financial standing. It allows individuals to battle with large corporations who would otherwise try and make the case so expensive that the person couldn’t afford to take the lawsuit any further. The contingency fee also allows people to share the financial risks of the case with their lawyer.

How we determine the fee
Our contingency fee is based upon a percentage of the gross total recovery for our client. The percentage charged will depend on what stage the recovery is achieved. For example, the percentage increases as the case goes further in the legal process. If a case is settled before trial, we are most often able to charge a lower percentage than if the gross recovery is obtained after a trial.

Additional trial expenses
Additional expenses are also charged against a client’s case. Typically, our office will pay the expenses of the case up front and as they come due. These expenses include, for example, filing fees, medical record copy charges, or deposition costs. The reimbursement of those expenses, like the fees, comes at the end of the case. The reimbursed expenses are not a part of the contingency fee and are considered separate from the fee. Unfortunately, expenses can become a significant factor in deciding whether to accept a settlement offer or go to trial.

The financial burden of immediate legal expenses shouldn’t get in the way of having a chance at a fair trial. If the case is lost, our client receives no recovery and we receive no compensation for our time, nor reimbursement for the expenses we advanced.

Charging for our services on a contingency basis is one more way we can relieve certain financial stresses for our clients as they seek justice and personal recovery.