If my lawyer who will be paid on contingency basis decides to drop my case, do I have to pay his fee? 23 Answers as of April 05, 2013

I have a contract with a lawyer on contingency basis. We have to go to trial in two months. At this point, my lawyer is confuse and is not sure if he wants to continue my case to trial. If he decided to drop my case, will I be responsible for his attorney’s fee?

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Lapin Law Offices
Lapin Law Offices | Jeffrey Lapin
I cannot answer your question as to whether your current attorney is entitled to a fee if he or she withdraws from your case without more information. Whether your attorney is entitled to any money, depends, in part, what the retainer agreement you signed when you hired the attorney says about this situation. The retainer agreement may indicate that your attorney is entitled to money if he or she withdraws and how the amount is to be calculated. However, if the retainer agreement does not discuss this situation it is possible that your attorney may not be entitled to any fee if he or she withdraws from your case without "cause," which can include several items including, but not limited to: the client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer's services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled and representation has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client. If there is cause for the attorney to withdraw he or she is likely entitled to the reasonable value of his or her time actually spent on your case. All attorney fees must be "reasonable" so that is another factor as to whether your current attorney is entitled to any money, and if so, how much if he or she withdraws. Your attorney may be entitled to be reimbursed for his or her costs and expenses regardless of whether he or she is entitled to a fee. Again, this is partially controlled by the retainer agreement you signed as well as Nebraska law. If you have a question about whether your attorney will be seeking a fee if he or she withdraws you should just ask him or her.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 4/5/2013
Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
No, because your lawyer only gets a portion of your recovery. If a new lawyer takes over, the lawyers can work out how to split the fees.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 3/8/2013
Anteski Law Firm | June Anteski
If the lawyer files a lien against the case, then you may have to pay him for handling the case out of any award settlement.
Answer Applies to: Arkansas
Replied: 3/7/2013
Alison Elle Aleman, Attorney & Counselor at Law
Alison Elle Aleman, Attorney & Counselor at Law | Alison Elle Aleman
No, but you may have to reimburse him for out of pocket expenses he has paid for your case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/7/2013
Gregory M Janks, PC
Gregory M Janks, PC | Gregory M Janks
You must read the agreement/contract you agreed to when you retained your lawyer. It should spell out when your lawyer can charge a fee and when not. If your contingent fee contract is typical, your lawyer is only entitled to a fee if, and when, he/she recovers money for you - and would not be paid a fee if no money is recovered.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 3/7/2013
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    If he resigns from your case, he should not receive anything except for costs advanced (Court filing fees, etc.).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Law Offices of Mark West
    Law Offices of Mark West | Mark West
    If your lawyer wants out and you don't want him to leave because it is so close to trial, you could refuse to sign the substitution of attorney form and make him file a motion to withdraw and explain why he wants out. Depending on the reason he wants to withdraw, he may be entitled to recovery costs he paid out and perhaps some fee if he makes a proper showing.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    Depends on many factors, but ordinarily there is a good chance he may be able to lien the file for quantum meruit, which is the value of the work he has performed.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Abrams Landau, Ltd.
    Abrams Landau, Ltd. | Douglas Landau
    The short answer is yes, the lawyer who has been representing you up until now can and probably will seek to be paid for his time and efforts, as well as reimbursed for all of the money he has advanced for your case (i.e., private investigator fees, court report, deposition transcripts, photographs, medical records/reports, expert witnesses, trial exhibits, etc.). In what is known as "Quantum Meruit" a determination as to the fair value of the time and effort will be made. I cannot imagine that a doctor parted ways with a patient after months of treatment or a car mechanic who began repairs would simply walk away from the bill for services up to that point, or the reimbursements for supplies, testing/investigation and expert advice, can you. Retaining an experienced and licensed Virginia personal injury lawyer who actually tries these cases on a regular basis and who has a real office in the Commonwealth would help you to protect your interests, especially if there will be permanent limitations or scarring. Do they have a real office, is it handicap accessible with live (not "virtual") staff. Check to see if they are ACTIVE, teaching & contributing members of the Virginia Trial Lawyers, DC Trial Lawyers and American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America). Many lawyers advertise that they handle personal injury cases, but I have learned that so many do not actually try cases in court, settle cheap and are in fact scared to go to court. The best way to determine the best injury lawyer for your case is to see your present (or future) lawyer "in action" actually trying an injury or disability case in court. Pick a professional not a pretender.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 3/7/2013
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    At this point he cant drop out without permission of the court. Its usually not given so close to trial. If he quits I wouldnt pay him you do have to pay expenses. If you get a new attorney they will work it out.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 3/6/2013
    Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
    Not responsibile for the fee; you may need to reimburse for the costs incurred and expended.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/6/2013
    Curry, Roby & Mulvey Co., LLC
    Curry, Roby & Mulvey Co., LLC | Bruce A. Curry
    The answer to your question should lie in the language of the contingency fee agreement you signed with your lawyer. Typically, there is language in the agreement that indicates he/she will be compensated on a quantum meruit (i.e., hourly) basis if the relationship ends. Most attorneys, however, only assert a lien for the costs expended in prosecuting your case, not his/her work. This would especially be appropriate in your case since the attorney is the one that wants to terminate the relationship, not you.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 3/6/2013
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    If he drops the case, no. If you fire him, then yes. How much is another question. Also, it may be too late at this stage of the game.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/6/2013
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    If he has a contingency contract he is paid only if you recover. If he withdraws on his own account he forfeits. If he withdraws because of your misbehavior you may owe him for what he has done.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 3/6/2013
    James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C.
    James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C. | Jim Hasser
    You need to read the contract and see what it says. Most contingency fee agreements do not hold you responsible for fees if the lawyer drops you. You might possibly be responsible for costs and expenses. Again, though, read the contract and see what it says. Moreover, ask the lawyer straight up.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/6/2013
    Blaske & Blaske, P.L.C.
    Blaske & Blaske, P.L.C. | John F. Turck IV
    It depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to the terms of your contingency fee agreement. He may be entitled to a quantum meruit fee if you end up with a recovery (essentially receiving a fee for the value of the services he provided). On the other hand, if he withdraws without good cause, he may be found to have forfeited any rights to claim a fee.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/6/2013
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC | Stephen R. Chesley
    If you obtain another lawyer the second lawyer will work out a fee arrangement with the old lawyer within the 1/3 fee arrangement you made with him. Your payment of the attorneys fee does not change.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/6/2013
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