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contingent fee

n. a fee to a lawyer which will be due and payable only if there is a successful conclusion of the legal work, usually winning or settling a lawsuit in favor of the client (particularly in negligence cases), or collecting funds due with or without filing a lawsuit. In many states, such agreements must be in writing and signed by attorney and client. The fee is generally a percentage of the recovery (money won), but may be partly a fee for time worked and partly a percentage. Although fees are negotiable, a standard contingent fee in accident cases is one-third of the money won, unless particular difficulties exist with the case, making the attorney believe he/she has the right to ask for more. States vary but some put a cap on the amount of fee for cases handled for minors even if the parent as guardian ad litem agrees to more. Contingent fee agreements in criminal cases which depend on the outcome are unethical.


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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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