There are a variety of ways attorneys are paid for their work. Some of these payment models include hourly rates (capped or not), flat fees, milestone payments, or a hybrid model that incorporate two or more different fee structures. Most of these methods require clients to pay the cost of the representation – often contemporaneously with the legal work provided – regardless of the outcome of the representation.
In contrast to these various methods, many lawyers who represent whistleblowers – including this firm – use a contingency fee structure in which the attorney does not get paid unless there is a recovery. And while some contingency fee attorneys require clients to pay certain case expenses (such as postage, court costs, expert fees, etc.) most do not. Most whistleblower lawyers – including this firm – pay those expenses and are only reimbursed from the recovery (if any). Simply put: if there is no recovery, attorneys are not paid.
Contingency Fee Arrangements Empower Whistleblowers
A contingency fee structure is ideally suited for whistleblower representation for a number of reasons.
- Cases are Vetted Thoroughly. Whistleblower lawyers invest substantial time and money litigating complex cases, often for many years, against corporate defendants with nearly unlimited resources. A contingent fee structure helps ensure that cases are thoroughly investigated and that only good cases are filed. Such a fee structure demonstrates the lawyer’s belief that the case has merit and enjoys a good chance of success.
- Interests are Aligned. By predicating a lawyer’s compensation on the outcome of a client’s case, a contingency fee structure ensures that the lawyer and the client have the same interests. When both lawyer and client have a similar stake in the outcome of a case, their interests are aligned and they will work more cooperatively together.
- Risk Transfer. Since whistleblower cases often take years to litigate (and usually involve substantial case expenses), hiring a contingency lawyer allows clients to move the financial risk of taking on such matters to those better able to handle it.
- Quality. Companies accused of wrongdoing hire top legal talent to represent them. By using a contingency fee model, whistleblowers can level the playing field and ensure that individuals have equal footing with wealthy defendants.