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Zachary
Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4019
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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if I find that a settlement offer was made prior to engaging

Resolved Question:

if I find that a settlement offer was made prior to engaging an attorney is contingency contract in effect?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
If you were given a settlement offer which you accepted prior to signing the attorney fee contract, then the contingency agreement will not effect it.

If you accept a settlement offer which pre-existed your hiring of the attorney, but you did not accept it until after you signed the contingency contract, it will fall under that contract (i.e., the attorney will have a claim to a portion of it).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


not sure I understand your answer. Why would anyone sign a contract after they have agreed to settlement? The answer does not seem to apply to my question. How would a lawyer be entitled to a fee for doing nothing...should not there be some work product in order to get paid?


 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.


I just sent a reply that the answer does not make sense. If you accept an offer why would anyone sign a contract. why should an lawyer receive thousands of dollars for no work at all. I read the below


 


The purpose of a contingent fee is to reward attorneys for proficiency and diligence in prosecuting disputed and litigated claims, as opposed to rendering minor services that any inexperienced attorney might perform.

Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
In your scenario there is a pre-existing settlement offer that was made to you prior to you hiring a lawyer to represent you in the claim under a contingency fee contract?

I agree, the lawyer should not take a fee if he did not do any work. But legally, the contract will control and it states any settlement accepted after the contract has been signed is subject to the fee agreement.

So I'm not certain why you would accept the settlement, unless your attorney told you that this was as good as it was going to get for you. Now, it may not be fair to say that the attorney did not do any work simply based on the fact that the settlement offer did not increase. The attorney may have done work (I'm speculating here...the attorney may not have done any work...I don't know).


You are in charge of determining whether or not to accept the settlement, the attorney does not have the right to force you to accept it.

If in fact, the attorney did absolutely no work on the case, and simply turned around said you should accept the outstanding settlement offer, then you may have a claim for a legal ethics violation.

So, my question to you is are you saying that the settlement offer was actually communicated to you prior to hiring the attorney?

Did you accept the offer based on the advice of the attorney?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


no I hired the attorney then was told an offer had already been made and had not reached me by mail. The lawyer advised me an offer was made prior to the contract but that they thought I should press for more. I did not want to do that as a bird in the hand...I have no problem paying for the paralegal work that was done setting up the case but why a third should be paid for my work product and the attorney just letting me know an offer was made. If (and you correctly don't know) was made prior to the retainer being signed it is less than an assumption the lawyer did not have an impact.

Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
OK. Thanks for clearing that up.

I think in this situation, you have a problem where the lawyer could try to force you to pay him the 1/3 because he has signed you up as a client and you are only accepting the settlement offer after you hired him. If you accept the offer it will be against the lawyer's recommendation.

I'm not trying to defend the lawyer here and I'm trying to help you out, but if he is telling you to not accept the settlement, and you accept it anyway and want to deny him a cut out of it, I do not think you will be successful in winning the argument if the lawyer wants to persist.

The lawyer has already performed work in analyzing your case and recommending that you do not accept the settlement. This will be enough in a court of law to justify the lawyer taking a cut if it were to become a dispute.

What you need to do in this situation is tell the lawyer that you want to drop the case and that you are wanting to accept the pre-existing settlement offer if they will agree that they are going to reduce their fee to only get minimal compensation for the time they incurred. IN other words, you are going to ask him to reform the attorney's fee contract as you have decided you want out. Most attorneys will cooperate in this type of situation unless there is a lot of work they've done that you just don't know about.


Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4019
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
Zachary and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

I wanted to follow up with you regarding your previous question.

Were you able to get ahold of your lawyer and ask about letting you out of the contract?

-ZDN

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