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What are Contingency Fees?

Dec 16, 2022 Articles

A contingency fee agreement is an agreement to pay your attorney a percentage of the settlement or award they win on your behalf. The payment is contingent on whether the attorney can win your case. With a contingency fee agreement, investors have lower upfront costs.

What Are Contingent Fees?

The industry average for contingency fees is 33% to 40% of the total settlement. Contingency fees are standard in securities law.

Advantages of Contingency Fee Agreements for Clients

After suffering losses, it may be difficult to consider paying money upfront with no guarantee the case will settle in your favor. With a contingency fee agreement, you do not have to pay your attorney until the case concludes. In the meantime, your securities attorney can offer expert insight into how to keep costs down as the case proceeds.

Because contingency fee lawyers only get paid if they win your case, they only take on cases they believe they can win. Attorneys who charge by the hour may not care if they believe they can win your case, since they know they will get paid no matter what. Since contingent fee lawyers earn a percentage of your settlement, they also have a greater incentive to make sure your case settles for as much as possible.

What Does a Contingency Lawyer Do in Securities Arbitration?

FINRA arbitration cases typically take 12 to 16 months. During that time, your attorney will file your statement of claim, oversee discovery, and guide you through the FINRA arbitrator selection process.

Contingent fee lawyers can also help make sure your case is settled as quickly as possible. They can ask for your case to be expedited if you have health issues that prevent you from traveling. Contingent fee lawyers may also recommend mediation (a less formal process than arbitration) to resolve your case sooner.

The following are the basic steps of FINRA arbitration:

  1. Statement of Claim

Your statement of claim will lay out how much you lost and what FINRA rules and regulations the brokerage firm allegedly violated. This statement may also detail why your investment lost money. Investment lawyers often have information on why an investment failed that may not be readily available to the public.

  1. Mediation

Before the arbitration hearing, your securities attorney may try to get the case to settle through mediation. This is an informal process that allows all parties to reach a mutually agreeable, non-binding resolution.

  1. Arbitrator Selection

During the arbitrator selection process, your securities lawyer will make sure you select arbitrators who are more likely to side with a retail investor. (Certain arbitrators have strong ties to the securities industry and have historically sided more often with brokerage firms.)

  1. Discovery and Objections

Discovery introduces relevant pieces of evidence. This evidence may include investor contracts and expert witness testimony. Contingency fee lawyers may also file objections, typically before the arbitration hearing takes place.

  1. Settlement Negotiations

Your contingency lawyer will fight for a fair settlement, which may include your losses as well as lost interest that a properly managed investment account would have accrued.

How Do I Discuss a Contingency Fee Agreement for My Case?

Contact our securities attorneys for a free case evaluation – our attorneys can offer expert opinions as to whether you have a viable case and what to expect from either mediation or arbitration. An experienced securities attorney can explain our contingency fee agreements and offer an estimate of how much you can expect to spend.

Call (877) 600-0098 or You can also use our live chat to provide your contact information and the best time to reach you.