Law Offices of Michael G. O'Neill | 30 Vesey St. 3rd Floor. |New York, NY, 10007 | 212-581-0990
The Contingency Fee

Unless you're a multi-millionaire, you can't afford litigation. It's just too expensive. Big corporate law firms charge from $450 (for a brand new lawyer who doesn't know anything) to $1,000 per hour and up for their top partners.

The contingency fee allows ordinary people to hire a lawyer. And not just any lawyer, but a competent lawyer who knows what she's doing, who can take on the big law firms hired by corporate defendants.

The contingency fee helps level the playing field. Now, here's the thing about the contingency fee. All lawyers charge the same or similar percentage. In personal injury cases it's a third, in medical malpractice cases somewhat less (more about that later) and in other cases anywhere from a third to a half. What this means is that when you hire an attorney on a contingency basis, you are going to pay the same for the lawyer who just graduated from law school as for an attorney with many years of experience. Think about that. If you needed brain surgery, and your insurance allowed you to choose any doctor out there, would you pick the doctor who's performing his first surgery or the one that has done the operation hundreds of times? Well, it's no different with lawyers. Maybe even more so, because no hospital is going to let a doctor use its operating room unless the doctor is sufficiently credentialed and meets certain criteria. Any lawyer can put up a website and practice law from his sofa. It can be really hard to know whether the lawyer you are hiring is any good, but that's a subject for a different day.

Big corporations and insurance companies hate the contingency fee, because it takes away one of their big advantages -- they can afford to hire lawyers, and you can't.


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