What Is the Standard Contingency Fee for an Attorney?

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What Is the Standard Contingency Fee for an Attorney?

Dictionary open to the definition of “attorney’s fees.”

Contingency fees are a very common structure for attorney-client payment agreements, although for most clients typical attorney fee percentages are unknown. How much is appropriate? What is the standard contingency fee for an attorney? And maybe more importantly: how do I know when my lawyer is overcharging me?

Ross Sears is one of the preeminent lawyers that sues lawyers in all of Texas. He is one of the founding attorneys of Sears Crawford and has been suing lawyers in Texas for over 30 years. Today he is here to discuss all things contingency fees, including average fees, limitations, and how to get justice if your lawyer overcharges you.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of legal malpractice, you are not alone. We know that hiring another lawyer is probably the last thing you want to do, but hiring a respected legal malpractice attorney is often your only avenue toward justice. Call Ross at (713) 223-3333 and ask him to sue your lawyer today.

What is a contingency fee?

A contingency fee is a payment agreement between a client and their attorney in which the attorney’s fee is contingent upon the successful resolution of their client’s case. Civil cases, like personal injury and legal malpractice cases, are usually taken on contingency fees, and attorneys are paid a portion of their client’s settlement.

Attorneys can also charge flat rates or hourly fees for civil cases, but contingency fees are more popular for their lack of up-front costs for clients.

It is also important to note that attorneys cannot take any criminal law cases on contingency fees, as this is prohibited by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

What is the contingency fee limit in Texas?

There may be flexibility built into the contract based on how much time and effort is going to be required for the attorney to bring the case to a resolution, but that rate should generally not exceed 40-45% of your settlement unless there are very unique circumstances.

How much does a lawyer cost in Texas?

So, how much does it cost for a lawyer to represent you in court? What is a standard contingency fee for a civil case? While providing an average cost is difficult, as costs depend heavily upon the nature of your case, the experience of your attorney, time and labor spent by your lawyer, the novelty (or how specialized that area of the law is) of your case, and more.

  • Generally speaking contingency fees in Texas range from 1/3% pre-suit to 40% post-suit. The only time you should pay more than 40% for a contingency fee attorney is if the case is legally complex and your attorney is VERY experienced, and preferably Board Certified in the area of law related to your case.
  • If you have a standard personal injury case and your attorney wants to charge you more than 40% for taking your case to trial, you should hire a different attorney.
  • There are many many good attorneys that will handle your case and take it all the way to trial on a 40% contingency fee agreement. Do not pay more than that on a personal injury case.

So for personal injury cases, if your attorney is suggesting that they receive between 1/3 and 40% of the compensation that they secure you, those fees are likely normal.

How do you calculate contingency fees?

As previously stated, contingency fee contracts often leave room for circumstances to change. If your case is settled in negotiations before it ever goes to trial, your attorney may receive a smaller percentage than they would if your case went through a long and arduous process in court.

Contingency fee agreements, as well as the percentage fee that your attorney will be owed from the settlement they secure you, must (by law) include language clearly disclosing the fees, and specifically stating whether or not court costs and other case expenses are paid by you (the client) or the attorney, and if the recovery of case expenses by client or attorney, is paid before or after the deduction of attorney’s fees.

If you have any concerns about your attorney’s fees, billing structure, or the percentage that they took out of your settlement, speak to a legal malpractice attorney in Houston who knows how to prove attorney overbilling. You can only know if your attorney committed legal malpractice by consulting with an experienced malpractice attorney, like Ross Sears at Sears Crawford.

How to recover attorneys’ fees in Texas

If your attorney did charge you unreasonable attorney fees, you may be able to recover the money that they cost you by suing your lawyer.

  1. Keep detailed records of how you were billed and any communication with your attorney. The more detailed the better. Your attorney should always provide you with an itemized billing statement regarding services rendered and time spent (on hourly cases) and a client settlement statement (on contingency cases). If you don’t have one, ask for one — if they don’t give it to you, it may lend credence to the idea that they overcharged you.
  2. Have your new attorney review your fee agreement to make sure that it is all within the law. Your lawyer should verify that the fees that you were charged line up with what is outlined in your contract and that the contract lays out reasonable terms.
  3. Compare the fees and the structure of the agreement with customary fees. Based on experience, your legal malpractice attorney should know if what your old lawyer charged you is considered reasonable or not.
  4. Sue your lawyer. If your attorney charged you excessive or unconscionable fees, hire a legal malpractice attorney to sue them.

Successfully suing your attorney and recovering the excessive fees that they charged you is not an easy task. Attorneys are good at protecting themselves, and will not just give up when they know they’ve been caught. If you or a loved one needs to go up against a lawyer, you need another lawyer, one who specializes in suing lawyers who have committed malpractice.

Continue reading: When is it too late to fire your attorney?

Worried that your attorney charged more than the standard fee? Call Sears Crawford for help today.

So, what is the standard contingency fee for an attorney? In Texas, the normal upper limit for most contingency fees is 40%. If your attorney charged you more than 40% and did not have special circumstances that warranted such a fee, you may be able to sue them for legal malpractice.

Ross Sears has been righting wrongs for his clients who have been harmed by their previous attorneys in Texas over 30 years. If you or a loved one were harmed by your previous lawyer and don’t know where to turn, give Ross a call today at (713) 223-3333 or contact us online to discuss your case.

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