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Posted: 3/29/2012 10:27:39 AM EDT
If you are filing a suit against a previous employer, should your attorney ask for a $15,000 retainer & then say that whatever the settlement is, they get 40% and you get 60%.

Seems steep to me.

This is not for me, it's for a friend. The suit is a mix of wrongful termination, discrimination/etc.

I'm trying to help tem find an attorney & have sent them the number to the state bar association, to request the names of a few lawyers but my friend did call one & got the above quote.
Link Posted: 3/29/2012 12:11:47 PM EDT
Hard to say whether $15,000 is steep for a retainer without knowing what expenses might arise in the case, and a 40% contingency fee is becoming standard.
Link Posted: 3/29/2012 12:36:08 PM EDT
I don't know anything about lawyering... but a retainer fee for a contingency case?
Link Posted: 3/29/2012 3:37:11 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/29/2012 3:37:32 PM EDT by Him]
Originally Posted By turbowarp:
I don't know anything about lawyering... but a retainer fee for a contingency case?


The lawyers never lose, only the clients.

Link Posted: 3/29/2012 4:34:28 PM EDT
Sounds like the lawyer is saying that either it's a losing case or that there's not much in the way of damages, or both.
Link Posted: 3/29/2012 4:58:51 PM EDT
Well NM, they are talking to another lawyer now.
Link Posted: 3/29/2012 8:24:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By turbowarp:
I don't know anything about lawyering... but a retainer fee for a contingency case?


There are usually some up front expenses like filing fees, and depending on the case there may be others like medical exams, an investigator, etc.
Link Posted: 3/30/2012 4:34:35 AM EDT
Originally Posted By turbowarp:
I don't know anything about lawyering... but a retainer fee for a contingency case?



The "retainer" may be for costs only. Also a way to weed out folks who aren't serious––a way to put your money where your mouth is. Since the OP is not a party to the legal services contract, it' difficult to determine what the scope of this retainer is.
Link Posted: 3/31/2012 10:56:31 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/31/2012 10:58:11 AM EDT by davewvu86]
It depends on the type of case and work required. I work at an employee-side employment law firm, perhaps one of the best in the country (I'm just a clerk/part-time law student). During our initial investigation, we'll ask for about a $7,000 retainer. At the end of the investigation, we decide whether we'll take the case and issue a formal opinion letter. If we're actually going to litigate the case, most retainers are around $25,000 with a requirement to maintain a $10,000 balance. Fees in excess of $300,000 at the end of the day are not uncommon. However, most employment lawsuits are based on statutes containing a fee shifting provision (employer pays if the employee is successful). As a result, most of the fees and costs are recovered for the client.

Our retainers typically contain language stating that the the client will pay the greater of the billed fees or 35-45% (amount is dependent how far the case has progressed) of the recovery, which ever is greater. Costs are owed by the client regardless of which payment calculation is used and can be substantial.

Costs, in the order usually incurred, include:

Interview with a psychiatric expert
Interview and consultations with a jury consultant
Research and interviews by a private investigator
$5,000 - $15,000 worth of retainers for experts, which could include a vocational rehab expert, subject matter experts (for technical issues), an economist, and psychological damages expert
Filing fees
Fees for legal research on Westlaw or Lexis
E-Discovery costs
Transcripts/videos for depositions
Travel expenses
More work with a jury consultant
$2,000 to $5,000 retainer for an IT professional to help with technology at trial

Costs can run over $50,000.

Our clients typically make over $100,000 a year and are fighting to protect their careers, not just a job. Depending on the type of case, amount of money involved, and work anticipated by the attorney, a $15,000 retainer and 40/60 split isn't unusual, and could even be on the cheaper side.

For help finding an employment lawyer, I'd turn to the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA.org). There's an attorney locator on the top left side of the page.

Also, make sure your friend doesn't wait too long. The statute of limitations for employment actions can be as short as a few months, depending on the claim and jurisdiction.
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