Contingent Fee Agreements for Business and Commercial Disputes

by David Cosgrove 

The legal industry has been going through severe “shrinking pains” ever since the Great Recession of 2008-2009. While many industries have slowly reversed their retrenchment, the legal industry has not. One of the many resulting changes in the industry has been the way it prices its product—legal services. And while the traditional hefty “hourly rate” is still alive and sickly, more unconventional pricing structures have gained in popularity, at least with the consumers of legal services.

This law firm has seen fit to take advantage of one of those trends. Cosgrove Law Group, LLC offers contingent fee arrangements on business matters. A contingent fee compensates the attorney with a percentage of the client’s ultimate reward. It has historically been reserved for plaintiff-clients in personal injury or collection matters. Not anymore. At least not at this firm.

A corporation or small business that has been harmed through either a breach of contract or tortious conduct is, when appropriate, capable of receiving a reward sufficient to justify the attorney taking the risk of receiving no compensation for his or her work. And when that proposition is in doubt, we frequently offer “hybrid” arrangements. A hybrid simply blends the two arrangements, combining a reduced hourly rate with a bonus or contingent element in the arrangement. In this way, the attorney and client share both the burden/cost of litigation, as well as the potential rewards. The concept can even be reversed for business-client defendants.

Contingency fee arrangements in non-personal injury cases are not new. See eg Turpin v. Anderson, 957 SW2d 421 (Mo. App. WD 1997) and Plaza Shoe Store, Inc. v. Hermel, Inc., 636 SW2d 53 (Mo. S. Ct. 1982). But they are certainly not appropriate for every case. They should, however, be considered in every case, including complex commercial cases. They might just be best for everyone involved. Food for thought.