Most jurisdictions in the United States prohibit working for a contingent fee in criminal cases or certain types of family law claims, as clarified in Rule 1, 5 (d) of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct. However, some jurisdictions allow contingent fees in criminal cases. A giant pile of money sounds great. But in big law firms, they often fight about it.
Law firm partners have a long and unfortunate history of contending contingency fee disputes. It's a good time to talk about it. One company is in the middle of a fight over cash, the other is about to receive a payment. A simple lesson for law firms and their lawyers is that splitting an enormous amount of cash doesn't have to be so contentious.
After securing the award, Zhang has said he tried to negotiate his court with McNamara. I wanted something around 80% to 90% of the prize, according to the two parties. He also said he wanted a position on the Dentons board of directors, over which McNamara would have significant influence. Zhang told me that he was less interested in the position of the board than in making a statement about how he perceived strong leadership to play favorites.
Meanwhile, the CEO of a law firm is tasked with delivering financial results for all partners. Dividing 90% of an eight-figure quota to a person does not go as far, politically, as dividing it among the wider constituency. A lot happened between the two sides, and the story is far from over, as Zhang files a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the company. But it seems that money exacerbated the underlying lack of trust.
He also highlighted how informal the process can be to determine how to split such a large fee. Many large law firms don't perform contingency fee work as often. Even if they have some type of committee to determine compensation for contingency fees, it is difficult for them to have developed significant respect. Like any type of democratic institution, people have to believe in it for their decisions to be valuable.
Some long-time Dentons lawyers may recall a similar episode that took place at one of their predecessor firms, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Dentons is far from the only company that has experienced this type of tension. Kent Zimmermann, director of law firm consulting firm Zueghauser Group, said unexpected gains from contingency fees may present a question of survival for some smaller firms. The fear is that partners won't need to work anymore after getting a life-changing fee.
For larger firms, the problem is getting partners to agree on how much to invest in the firm's future rather than rewarding the lawyers responsible for the money. Contingent fee billing is supposed to be more common in Big Law today, especially with the increasing use of litigation funds. I thought litigation funders might be advising big law firms on structuring their compensation decisions around contingency fee cases. It doesn't seem to happen very often.
Sources from two major litigation funders told me that big law firms are not interested in that advice. I asked Quinn Emanuel to discuss how he decides partner compensation in contingency fee cases. One thing Quinn has worked in her favor is that she has more experience in litigation and contingency fees than most large law firms. To read more articles, log in.
Learn more about subscribing to Bloomberg Law. With a mixed-time contingent setup, your lawyer will likely also receive a percentage of the recovery in addition to the attorney's hourly rate. Located in Mobile and serving victims of car accidents in the Gulf Coast area, personal injury attorney Dean Waite and his legal team thoroughly understand how the justice system works. First, a contingency fee agreement will sometimes result in a lawyer receiving more money than if he paid the lawyer by the hour.