What's a contingency fee?


Generally speaking, lawyers are paid in one of two ways. First, lawyers might be paid out-of-pocket by clients (or by a client's representative, such as an insurance company). Many lawyers practicing intellectual property law, corporate law, insurance defense, criminal law, and domestic law are paid this way. A good rule of thumb is that out-of-pocket payment is the usual method of attorney payment when the client does not seek an award of money from a third party.

Second, lawyers might be paid under a contingency fee agreement when the client seeks a monetary award. A contingency fee typically requires no out-of-pocket payment by the client; that is, the attorney usually bears the full expense of advancing the client's case. If the attorney is successful in making a recovery for the client, the the attorney receives a share of the recovery and reimbursement of expenses. A contingency fee arrangement is common in cases where the client seeks a money recovery, such as personal injury, medical malpractice, social security, products liability, and other tort cases. A specific rule governing attorney ethics and conduct, Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(c), permits contingency fees.

In a way, a contingency fee shows that the attorney is taking a stake in the client's claim. The practical reality is that many people who need a lawyer because they've been hurt can't afford to pay one out of their own pocket. So, contingency fee arrangements help people gain access to justice who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

At the Chaney Law Firm, we customarily represent people injured by others on a contingency fee basis. We are proud to represent people who might not otherwise be able to seek help for their injuries through the legal system.