Contingency Fees | Tumbling Dice?
I’m Mike Hackard of Hackard Law. We work to be one of California’s leading estate, trust and catastrophic injury law firms. We regularly litigate cases on a contingency fee basis.
A contingency fee is an arrangement where the lawyer agrees to a fixed percentage of a case recovery. They’re negotiated arrangements.
California has particular requirements that are set out in statutory and ethical rules.
These rules must be followed when attorneys and clients enter into contingency fee agreements. Contingency fees allow people who cannot afford legal services to pursue litigation.
Some say that contingency fee lawyers are gamblers. I disagree. Chance-based gambling has outcomes that are uncertain. Outcomes that are based completely on random events. Players have no way to affect or influence how the game will end. No way to affect whether they’ll win or lose their bet. Tumbling dice in a game like Craps is chance-based gambling.
Contingency fees in litigated estate and trust cases are not chance-based. There are risks. Outcomes are uncertain. Random events may affect outcomes. That said, we don’t take a case that is simply a matter of rolling tumbling dice.
We look at the parties. Their location. Their credibility. Their relationships. Spouse? Child? Caregiver? Stepmother? Partner? Trustee? Beneficiary? Heir?
Consider the bad acts. Secrecy? Guilty conscience? Accomplices? Lawyer involvement – positive or negative? Verifying documents? Verifying witnesses? Did the wrongdoer plot? Did they lie? Cheat? Steal? Did they use secrecy to accomplish the plot? Is there a cover-up?
We apply preliminary rules to the case. Rules that shift the burden of proof. Rules for aiding and abetting liability. Rules for drafting attorneys. Rules establishing elder financial abuse. Rules for fraud identification. Rules for determining incapacity. Rules for trustees. Rules for finding undue influence.
If we’ve taken a case, we’ve considered all of the above. If we’ve taken a case, we’re not gambling. If we’ve taken a case, we know there’s a chance of winning and of losing. For us, it’s not a simple flip of a coin.
Effective client intake, fact gathering, and legal theory application done by us reduces uncertainty. Our attentiveness improves certainty. Our diligence improves certainty. Our persistence improves certainty.
When a final outcome is determined by a mediation, settlement conference, or trial we won’t be just rolling the dice in a game of chance. We will be applying a plan of action early in the making, modified as necessary as facts are discovered, and applied in advocacy before a mediator, a judge, or a jury.
If you’d like us to look at your estate, trust, or catastrophic injury case, then call us at Hackard Law 916 313-3030.
We will have done what we can to increase certainty and reduce uncertainty. To improve our chance of success. To reduce our chance of failure. At the end of the day, litigation should really be more than just a game of chance.
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