Pros and Cons of Contingency Fees

picture of a lawn firm office sign

What is a Contingency Attorney Fee?

A “contingency fee” is a retainer arrangement in which the lawyer only gets paid if he wins. Under this arrangement, the lawyer gets a certain percentage (typically one-quarter to one-third) of the money he or she wins for the client. In other words, the attorney get a piece of the prize. If the case is lost, neither the attorney nor the client get paid.

Lawyers typically only offer contingency fee arrangements where the client seeks to recover money. Contrary to popular belief, contingency fees are only common in a few areas of law, including personal injury, products liability, Workers’ Compensation, and Social Security Disability Insurance.

What are the Benefits of Contingency Fees for Clients?

From a client’s perspective, the primary advantage of a contingency fee is not having to pay to hire the lawyer. This allows a client to retain a lawyer that otherwise may have been unaffordable.

Another advantage is that the client does not have to worry about receiving a large bill if the attorney loses the case. This relieves a lot of stress for the client while the case is pending.

The last advantage for the client is that the attorney may be more motivated to win the case. The attorney will not get paid unless the case is won – just like the client. This mutual risk helps the client feel more confident that the attorney is doing a good job, which can also reduce stress.

What are the Disadvantages of Contingency Fees for Clients?

Unfortunately, contingency fee arrangements also come with disadvantages for clients. One major disadvantage is that prospective lawyers are usually more selective in the cases that they take for a contingency fee. Attorneys obviously want to get paid, so they are typically less willing to take risky cases on a contingency fee basis. This may make it more difficult for a client to hire an attorney.

Another disadvantage is that, if the case is won, the client may ultimately pay more in contingency fees than if the case had been taken on an hourly basis. For example, if an attorney performs 10 hours of work and settles a case for $300,000, the attorney would get $100,000 in fees under a one-third contingency retainer. In that same example, the attorney only would have received $5,000 in fees under a $500 hourly rate retainer.

Bail Bonds and Bail Hearings

When a person is arrested and has been charged with a crime they are placed into police custody. However, in some instances they can apply for bail. This is the process of agreeing to pay a set amount of money in exchange for the accused person’s release. The accused person can then spend the time awaiting the trial in his or her own home instead of a jail cell.

Subsequently, A bail hearing is when a court will meet to decide if the accused can be let out of jail. The hearing will also decide the amount of money that the bail is set at. During this hearing the judge will take into account issues or concerns that could impact their decision.

Issues taken into account during one of these hearings:

  • The criminal history of the applicant
  • The financial situation of the application
  • The physical and psychological condition of the application
  • The home life and family situation of the applicant
  • If the applicant has a history of substance abuse
  • The length of time the applicant has lived in the local community
  • If the applicant has previously appeared at court dates

If the judge believes that the accused could be flight risk or a danger to the community or themselves then they will not be granted bail. However, even if it is granted there can still be restrictions. A curfew can be imposed on the accused along with requiring regular drug and alcohol tests.

person in cuffs awaiting bail

The term posting bail refers to the actual act of paying the amount to the courts. Once the amount has been paid to the court an official document stating that bail was granted will be issued and the accused can be released from custody. Upon appearing in court at the appointed dates and times you will receive the full amount back.

Not everyone has the money to post themselves and in this instance a bail bond can be purchased to secure the accused’s release. A bail bondman will post on behalf of the accused but instead the accused will need to pay around 10% to the bondsman. If bail is posted using this type of service, then the amount paid to the bail company will not be returned or repaid.

In some cases the accused will be released without having to pay anything. Instead the accused will have to sign a legally binding statement that indicates that they will turn up to their court date. This option is often available to people who are only charged with minor crimes with no criminal history. Yet if the accused fails to appear in court a warrant will be issued for their arrest and you may be held without bail until your trial.

Lawyers and Social Media

In this age of social media, not even the practice of law has been left untouched. The job of a lawyer has become intertwined with social media. From the use of social media marketing to the advent of the social media lawyer, the possibilities are endless.

Social Media Marketing
This is an easy way to market a law firm. It employs the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. For a lawyer to be successful in social media marketing, they should maintain a social media presence.

This can be achieved by regularly updating content on to the account in question. Apart from frequency, quality of content is also of great concern. People cannot be fooled by sub-par content.

It is better to upload good content once a week than to daily post low-quality content. Lawyers pursuing this kind of marketing should also find a way to get referrals from reputable lawyers with a greater following than them. Posting links to blog articles by the firm can also enable potential clients to learn more about the firm.

Social Media Law
A social media lawyer is a lawyer that deals with cases resulting from the use of social media. Cyber-bullying and identity theft are, but about a few of the cases, they dabble in. In this day and age, the demand for social media lawyers is increasing.

This has led to the establishment of law firms that only deal with social media law. These social media law firms are increasing by the day. As much as this career path is currently marketable, the work involved is not easy.

To become a social media lawyer, you need much more than a law degree. You need to keep up to date with the ever-changing laws that govern privacy, copyright, and social media marketing among many others.

Ordinary people using social media should also be careful not to find themselves on the wrong side of the law because of it. Frequent users of social media should always ensure they are aware of the privacy policies and any terms of service associated with contests and promotions.

People with online businesses or those who participate in social media marketing must especially be careful not to fall on the wrong side of the law. Where it becomes difficult to understand the laws and policies concerning this, the help of a social media lawyer should be employed.

Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered

Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered?

In my opinion, absolutely not. No, nada, nope. Listen, I hope that I don’t seem too conservative in my posts. I am not a conservative. I am also not a liberal. I am just a person who tends to think with my emotions first, who tries to end the day thinking with my rationality last.

I’m not sure how a lot of people feel about this issue. But I do know that a lot of people tend to compare being able to go to war at 18, with being able to drink at the age of 18. I can understand that. We are allowed to risk our lives at the age of 18, so why can’t we drink at the age 18? Well, I have an answer for that. Technically, you are still risking your life when you drink at the age of 18. Unlike going to the military, where you are trained to go to war and protect your country, there aren’t too many training courses on how to drink, other than telling people not to drink and drive.

18 or 21 drinking image

And to be honest, it’s not something that you can really train people. To me, it’s something that comes with maturity, and that comes with mental development. A lot of people I know drank alcohol completely different at age 21 than they do at age 25. You gain more insight, awareness, and experiences as you get older. When you are young, I feel that you drink for the feeling and to fit in. When you get older, you drink for the social aspect and as a relaxation method. I do not feel that an 18-year-old is at the maturity level to really understand the effects the alcohol can have on the body. I honestly do not think that a lot of 21-year-olds do either.

So, in case you didn’t catch it the first time, no, I do not think that the drinking age should be lowered. Maturity takes time, and 18 is not enough time. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think!

The Three Levels of Courts in the US

As Americans, we have a civic duty to understand how our government, which represents us, is organized. We should also understand the functions of the various branches of government and their different parts. The structure and functions of the judicial branches of our state and federal governments are no exception to that rule. Generally speaking, the court systems in the United States are divided into three levels: trial courts, courts of appeals, and courts of last resort. This is true of both the federal and state judiciaries.

Level 1. Trial Courts

Trial courts are the courts where virtually all lawsuits are filed. They go by many different names, like district courts or county courts, but they serve similar functions. Trial courts are the first courts to deal with a lawsuit. As the name suggests, they are courts where trials are conducted. Parties file pleadings with the trial court to initiate a lawsuit, and discovery is conducted under the supervision of the trial-court judge. The trial court will also make rulings on what evidence will be admitted in the case, and will often submit any factual disputes between the parties to a jury for them to determine which side is right. The judgment of the trial court is subject to appeal, most often to a court of appeals, but in rare cases, directly to the court of last resort.

Level 2. Courts of Appeals

If a party to a lawsuit is unhappy with the outcome in the trial court, he or she can appeal to the second level of courts, a court of appeals. At the federal level and in some states, there are multiple different courts of appeals with jurisdiction over specified geographical areas. Some states have just one court of appeals that covers the entire state. However structured, courts of appeals review the proceedings in and judgments of trial courts to make sure that they were conducted properly and no legal errors were made. Courts of appeals normally do not accept evidence. Instead, the parties file legal briefs explaining where they think the trial court went wrong, or explaining why they think the trial court was right. The parties may then appear for oral argument before the court of appeals, where the judges will ask them questions about the basis for their appeal. The legal rulings of a court of appeals are binding on any trial courts within that court of appeals’ geographic jurisdiction. The decisions of a court of appeals are subject to further review by the court of last resort.

Level 3. Courts of Last Resort

The court of last resort in a judicial system is usually known as the Supreme Court. For example, the United States Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the federal judiciary. Two states, Texas and Oklahoma, actually have two different courts of last resort, one with jurisdiction over civil lawsuits, and one with jurisdiction in criminal cases. Confusingly, New York calls its state court of last resort the New York Court of Appeals. New York’s supreme courts are actually trial courts. In any event, the court or courts of last resort in a judicial system are the system’s highest judicial authority. Once they decide a legal question, there is no other court to appeal to, except in cases where a state court of last resort decides a question of federal law. Like courts of appeals, a court of last resort does not conduct trials. The parties will submit briefs containing their arguments, and may be asked to give oral arguments before the judges or justices. The decisions of a court of last resort are called “opinions,” and explain the court’s reasoning in deciding the case as it did.

picture of the supreme court

These days, very few cases actually go to trial in a trial court, let alone work their way up through the entire court structure to the court of last resort. But understanding the court system is still an important part of being an American citizen. The courts are one branch of the governments that represent us, so we should at least have a basic familiarity with their structure and functions. For more on this, you can visit the the Justice.gov article on the federal court system.

How to Become a Lawyer

If you’ve landed on my site, chances are that you are interested in becoming a lawyer. If that is the case, good for you! While a being a lawyer may not be as animated as the television shows, “How to Get Away with Murder” or “Suits,” – it can be a rewarding career choice. That being said, how does one actually become a lawyer? What steps need to be taken to do embark on that journey?

If you would like the answers to those questions, keep on reading!

1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

First and foremost, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree. A lot of people are confused about how many years of schooling it actually takes to become a lawyer. On average, it takes about seven years. You will spend four years in undergraduate school obtaining a bachelor’s degree, and three years in law school obtaining your juris doctorate degree.

studying a legal book

One of the benefits of becoming a lawyer, is that your bachelor’s degree does not need to be in any particular field. While a lot of law students major in political science, English, and psychology – that is not required. The only time that you will be required to major in a particular field, is if you would like to go into patent law. Even in that case, there are other methods you can look into if you did not major in any of the required fields for patent law. If you plan on going into patent law, make sure you research, contact various law school schools, and speak to patent attorneys, to see what degree you should major in in undergrad to get into patent law. You should also investigate the different options available if you did not to major in one of the required fields.

2. Take the LSAT Exam

The next step that you want to take, is to take the LSAT exam. The LSAT is a one-day test that is broken up into five different parts. The LSAT also includes an essay section on the test. The essay section will not be given a score, but the law schools that you apply to will have access to a copy of your essay.

There are various study programs that can help you prepare for your LSAT. It is also extremely important to know when you should take your LSAT, so contact admissions for the law schools you are interested in, the appropriate advisers at your undergrad school, and the LSAC website (yes, I mean LSAC), in order to determine when you need to take your test.

3. Apply to Law School

Third, you must apply to law school – an ABA approved law school to be exact (Make sure that the law schools that you apply to are ABA approved! A lot of states will not permit you to take the bar exam if you do not attend an ABA approved law school).

decide which school to apply to

Your GPA and what you make on the LSAT are going to be important when applying to law school. If you did not have a strong GPA in undergrad, do not be discouraged. Work hard on obtaining a high LSAT score, and you will still be able to compete with all the other law students to get into law school. That being said, if you are still in undergrad, make sure that you focus on keeping a good GPA. Try to apply to as many law schools as possible. Of course you will have your favorites, but give yourself options. Also, find out the GPA and LSAT requirements for the schools that you will be applying to.

4. Attend Law School and Earn a Law Degree

Notice that this sections says earn a law degree. That is exactly what you will be doing. Law school takes a lot of work, and a lot of time. You will take various classes that will teach about legal writing, the law itself, interpreting the law, and learning how to think like a lawyer. You are giving up three years of your life to enter into a world that will change your life for the better. Make sure that you take advantage of that. Apply for internships, network, and most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for help. Law school is not hard – it just takes a lot of hard work. When you walk out of there three years later with your juris doctorate degree, it will all be worth it.

5. The MPRE Exam and The Bar Exam

Even though you now have that wonderful piece of paper in your hands (your juris doctorate degree), it is not over yet. In order to practice law, you must take and pass the MPRE and bar exams. The MPRE exam is an ethics test that is given three times a year. It can be taken while you are still in law school or after you graduate from law school.

The bar exam is given twice a year in each state, and can only be taken once you have completed a certain amount of hours, or after you have graduated. It is typically a 2-3-day test (depending on the state that you are taking it in). The test is a comprehensive bundle of a variety of the subjects that you learned throughout law school. It can be intense, but it is nothing that you cannot handle.

You must pass both the MPRE and the bar exam to become a licensed attorney (The word attorney is the name used for those who are licensed. However, a lot of people still call attorneys, lawyers).

6. Set out of for Greatness

Now that you have put in the work, fought for your goals, and never gave up, it is time for you to go out and be the best attorney that you can be. You can apply for jobs at law firms, work for the government, become a solo practitioner – it is all up to you. Sometimes, it can be tough trying to get your foot into the doors of the legal community. However, if work hard for what you desire and stay positive, you will achieve greatness. Hope you enjoy this and my site, there’s a lot more where this came from!