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Fee Structures

Hourly rates for lawyers have increased significantly. Klein & Wilson’s hourly rates are lower than its BigLaw competitors, even though Klein & Wilson regularly tries cases against BigLaw. Fee structures are not the only problems at some law firms. At many firms, especially large firms, there are too many people assigned to a case. As a result, several attorneys bill for the same work. Often, inadequately supervised associates bill many hours for which the client receives little value. Klein & Wilson’s small firm structure gives clients more value for their litigation dollar.

Klein & Wilson primarily bills its time by the hour. Sometimes, the firm accepts cases on a hybrid or contingency fee basis.

To reach our experienced attorneys call 949-239-0907, or contact the firm by email.

General Questions for Legal Malpractice and Business Litigation Cases on a Contingency Fee or Hybrid Fee Basis

What is a contingency fee arrangement?

A contingency fee arrangement is where Klein & Wilson LLP earns a fee based on a percentage of the money that we recover for you.

What is a hybrid fee arrangement?

A hybrid fee arrangement is where Klein & Wilson LLP earns a fee based partially on hourly fees at reduced rates and partially on a percentage of the money that we recover for you.

What is the difference between a pure contingency fee agreement versus a hybrid fee agreement?

The difference between a pure contingency fee agreement and a hybrid fee agreement is,

  • In a pure contingency fee agreement, our fee is entirely based on a percentage of the money we recover.
    • For instance, if we recover $10 million for you and you agreed to pay a 40 percent contingency fee, then the contingency fee is $4 million.
  • In a hybrid agreement, our fee is based partly on hourly fees at reduced hourly rates and partly on a percentage of the money we recover.
    • For instance, if we recover $10 million for you and billed 1,000 hours at a reduced hourly rate of $400, then you would pay $400,000 in hourly fees. If you also agreed to pay 20 percent of the recovery, then you would pay $2 million in a contingency fee.

What is Klein & Wilson LLP’s criteria for accepting contingency fee and hybrid fee cases?

Klein & Wilson LLP has primarily four criteria for accepting cases on a contingency fee or hybrid fee basis:

  • You have economic damages of at least $5 million that we can verify. Economic damages include things like judgments entered against you, lost profits, attorneys’ fees you incurred, etc. We do not consider items like emotional distress or punitive damages.
  • We are convinced that if we win the case, the defendant has sufficient assets or insurance to pay the judgment.
  • You are willing to pay costs like expert witness fees and court reporters. In complex cases these amounts can be significant.
  • The firm likes the case. This means we believe we can win the case if it goes to trial, and we believe in the client.

What is Klein & Wilson LLP’s preference, contingency fee or hybrid fee basis?

When clients are talking to us about handling a case on a contingency fee or hybrid fee basis, our preference will usually be a hybrid arrangement.

Why does Klein & Wilson LLP prefer hybrid fee agreements over pure contingency fee agreements?

We prefer hybrid fee agreements over pure contingency fee agreements because,

    • We want you to have skin in the game. That way, you have an incentive to make wise financial decisions.
    • Also, in a big damages case where the recovery could be substantial, you will usually recover more money in a hybrid arrangement, and we don’t want you regretting the fee arrangement.

Why do clients in big cases typically recover more money in a hybrid fee arrangement than in a pure contingency fee agreement?

Let’s assume Klein & Wilson LLP accepted a case where we reduced our hourly rates by half and agreed to a 20 percent contingency fee. Let’s also assume that we recover $10 million and spent around 1,000 attorney hours doing so.

The hourly fees will be around $400,000, and the contingency fee would be $2 million, for a total of about $2.4 million. If we accepted the case on a pure contingency fee basis, where you agreed to pay a 40 percent contingency fee, then the contingency fee would be $4 million – $1.6 million more.

So, the client does better in a hybrid arrangement.

What should I do if I want Klein & Wilson LLP to consider taking my case on a contingency or hybrid fee basis?

First, have a very clear understanding of the key points in your case and be able to communicate those facts clearly and concisely. It will be helpful to prepare a short summary or timeline of key events before calling us. On the initial call, we are looking to get a basic understanding of the case.

Second, be able to articulate your economic damages and how you calculated them. We do not need the number to the penny, but we do need a general understanding of the damages.

Third, be ready to make an investment in your case. Some clients mistakenly see contingency fee cases as a lottery ticket. We only take contingency and hybrid cases where we believe there is a strong chance of recovery. We don’t take fliers. Sometimes this means you may need to hire us on an hourly basis to analyze the merits of your case. Or you may need to hire an investigator to do asset searches on potential defendants. We see hybrid and contingency fee cases as a partnership. If you are willing to financially invest in your case, then we will have more incentive to join you.

What are some of the key steps and phases involved in typical business litigation and legal malpractice cases?

When we get hired, we determine what our client’s goals are. We cannot satisfy clients unless we know what they want. Once we understand those goals, we figure out if we can achieve them and advise the client of the chances for success.

We triage the client’s problems. Sometimes, clients need immediate relief, like a temporary restraining order to stop someone from doing something that is harming the business or a writ of attachment to lock up money that is owed to the client.

After we address urgent issues, we prepare a comprehensive litigation analysis memorandum that summarizes the facts of the case, identifies the key legal issues, provides a resolution of those issues if we can, and then presents a written litigation strategy all the way through trial. This process helps us identify the strengths of the case early so we can capitalize on them and helps us identify the weaknesses of the case early so we can address them. Typically, we know early on whether we should win the trial or whether the case has big problems that the client needs to know so it can consider settlement.

During preparation of the analysis memorandum, we also identify the types of experts we need to win – a critical part of almost every case. We spend time interviewing prospective expert witnesses to ensure they are a good fit and will present well to the court.

After we complete the analysis of the case, we conduct discovery, like depositions and document collection. Frequently, we file and oppose a variety of motions for the court to decide certain legal issues before trial that will impact which claims the jury or judge will decide at trial.

Along the way, it is common for the parties to engage in settlement discussions. Many times, parties in litigation will participate in a mediation where a retired judge will try and get the case settled.

If the case does not settle, then we prepare for trial which is a unique skill. If the case merits a mock trial, we conduct one. We have conducted many mock trials which are very helpful in determining the chances for success and case value.

We prepare charts, graphs, and other visuals to tell our client’s story. We prepare various pre-trial motions. We spend time evaluating the types of jurors would be best and prepare for jury selection. We prepare an opening statement that we give to the jury or judge, direct and cross-examination of the witnesses, and a closing argument.

Finally, we present the case to a jury, judge, or arbitrator, depending on the case. The trials we handle usually last many days and sometimes many weeks because our cases frequently have many witnesses.

What does Klein & Wilson LLP do exceptionally well in complex cases?

Klein & Wilson LLP excels in complex cases because we evaluate cases early, we use sophisticated tools to collect documents and identify the most important ones, we spend the necessary time to understand what happened and why it happened, and we develop a theme and strategy to win.

Evaluating sophisticated cases requires meticulous attention to detail. Sometimes a single email can change the outcome of the case. Sometimes, a single appellate court opinion can determine the result. So, we spend the time to get on top of our cases early and are usually way ahead of our opponents.

We excel at developing damage models. Knowing exactly which damages are available, how to calculate them and present them is critical to success. Having the right expert who has performed the analysis correctly can determine the outcome. We are skilled at figuring out which experts are necessary and identifying the top experts who can provide compelling testimony.

Finally, we are experienced and talented trial lawyers. Collectively, Klein & Wilson LLP’s attorneys have tried over 100 cases. We have also conducted many mock trials. All this experience is critical to success. We know how to condense a complicated set of facts into understandable sound bites that juries understand. We are creative and develop interesting visuals to tell stories and keep jurors engaged.

We tell our client’s stories with a theme.

Here’s an example: follow the money; the defendant breached the exclusive contract with our client for one reason – the defendant made more money selling the goods to another customer.

Here’s another example: this is a case about a lawyer who cared more about making money than taking care of his client. The lawyer made a mistake and then covered it up. Worse, the lawyer kept billing the client millions of dollars even though the lawyer knew there was no way to fix his error.

It important to tell the client’s story in a few sentences. That theme will be the anchor for the entire trial. The jury will frequently forget much of the evidence both sides present. But they will not forget the theme if it is presented accurately and is easy to understand.