Many lawyers, including our office, probably has an advertisement somewhere that claims there is no fee, unless there is recovery for the client. This is a good thing, because it gives people access to an attorney without, in most cases, having to pay any money for the lawyer's fees, or expenses. However, there is more to it than that.
First, most fee agreements, including ours, will make a distinction between "costs" and "fees." Costs are the things that an attorney will spend money on to prepare your case for a settlement demand, or litigation. This can include copying costs, long distance phone calls, paralegal costs, and the cost of obtaining medical bills, charts, and medical opinions. It is always a good idea to get an idea of typical costs. Some, but not all attorneys will "front" costs, meaning they pay the costs as they are incurred. However, other attorneys may want a client to pay a retainer to be held in trust, for use to cover costs, as they are incurred.
The "no recovery, no fee" really refers to the contingent nature of the fee. This means that the fee is contingent upon the attorney recovering money or other compensation for the claim. Only then is a fee paid. However, pay attention to the percentage of the fee, and what number is being used to calculate the fee. In other words, what is considered to be the "recovery" on your case?
We handle most all of our injury cases on a contingent basis, and many times, pay costs up front. To get a clear and full explanation of how our fee agreement works, call us at 503-325-8600.