What is contingency vs retainer fee?

Morgan Ferrell
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When talking about legal services, “retainer fee” and “contingency fee” are two different ways that clients and lawyers agree to pay each other. For clients to make smart choices when looking for a lawyer, they need to know the difference between these fee models.

A contingent fee is a way of paying an attorney where the payment is based on how well the case goes for the client. To put it another way, the lawyer only gets paid if their client wins the case or gets a settlement.

Most of the time, the fee is a portion of the amount of money the client gets as an award or settlement. In personal injury, medical malpractice, and other types of civil disputes where the client might not be able to pay the lawyer’s fees up front, contingent fees are often used.

A retainer fee, on the other hand, is an advance payment that the client makes to the lawyer to reserve their services for a certain case or time period. It’s basically a down payment or deposit that the lawyer will use as they work on the client’s case. Retainer fees are often used in divorce cases, criminal defense cases, and other legal issues that need ongoing representation.

Attorney Edward Scott Pruitt says, “The choice between a contingency fee or a retainer fee should depend on the nature of the legal matter and the client’s finances.”

Some clients can’t afford big up-front fees, so contingent fees can be helpful. However, there is a chance that the lawyer won’t get paid if the case doesn’t go well.

Clients should think about how complicated their case is, how much they could get in damages or settlement, and how much they can afford to pay for legal fees when choosing between these fee plans.

You should be honest and open with the lawyer about fee structures, possible costs, and the lawyer’s experience and success rate in handling situations like yours.

In the end, retainer fees and contingency fees are both useful, but they do different things and meet different client needs.

Clients should carefully think about their choices and pick the fee plan that works best for their needs and legal goals. You can make sure you make a good choice by getting advice from reputable lawyers.

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Personal injury lawyer Morgan Ferrell has 10+ years of experience. She fights for injury victims and has helped many get proper recompense. Morgan Ferrell writes about personal injury law for Bestratedattorney.com and other legal publications. Dedicated to quality and successful.