There are a lot of factors that go into the final answer to this question, but it’s important to understand that at least at the outset of the case, you pay nothing. As outlined by the California Bar Association, attorneys fees for employment litigation are arranged on a contingency fee basis.
As a Los Angeles employment lawyer can explain, a contingency fee arrangement stems from a contractual agreement wherein the client agrees to pay the attorney a percentage of the proceeds from the case – if any.
You may have heard the phrase, “You pay nothing unless we win.” That refers to a contingency fee arrangement. The “nothing” referred to there is with regard to attorney’s fees. Depending on the circumstances, plaintiffs may still be responsible for certain things like witness fees, court fees, payments for copies, and some other expenses, regardless of the case outcome, but attorney’s fees are where the bulk of a plaintiff’s costs would be in a civil case. Waiving those fees in the event the case is not won serves on two fronts: It prevents attorneys from taking up frivolous (unlikely to win) claims, and it evens the accessibility playing field when it comes to taking strong claims to court.
Think about it: If a former fast food employee filing a wage theft claim had to pay the same upfront legal fees that the corporate defendant is likely paying, they’d never get their foot past the front door of the courthouse. Contingency fee arrangements provide strong incentives for plaintiff attorneys to level with prospective clients about the veracity and value of their potential case. Such arrangements also allow those less economically advantaged to have the same opportunity to seek justice as anyone else. Continue Reading ›