Lowering fees — and infuriating colleagues?

“I recently ran a television advertisement offering to represent car accident victims in exchange for a 15 percent contingency fee, which is more than 50 percent less than the traditional 33 percent contingent fee. …One of the goals of my advertising campaign is to reform the tort system in the marketplace, without the need for legislation. … Making a lower contingency fee the centerpiece of an ad campaign, albeit just for car accident victims, educates consumers about the standard fee and how a lower contingency fee can benefit them, by putting more of the net recovery in their pocket.” New Haven, Ct. attorney Joshua A. Winnick sure isn’t angling for popularity among his peers (“Putting a Price on Plaintiffs Work”, Connecticut Law Tribune, Dec. 28). More: David Giacalone.

8 Comments

  • He may not become popular with other lawyers but it’s definitely a nice change. It’s somewhat naive to think it’s not in his self interest though for him to do this since I’m sure this will noticeably increase the number of possible clients for him.

  • If you think about it; it is very smart economics, Wal-Mart has learned it well. If you have the lowest price,people will come and have a better impresion of lawyers and their job.

  • It will be interesting to see how he does. We don’t do personal injury cases any more, because we generally couldn’t attract extremely large valued cases, and at 30%, our fees in the smaller cases weren’t even enough to cover case costs and payroll expenses. After a couple of quarters taking losses, we moved on to better work. Of course, if you take very small settlements that let you wrap up a case without doing much work, the business model can succeed, but your clients unknowingly pocket less than they would with a higher priced lawyer who handled the case properly.

  • A few years ago when I lived in Vegas, there was some new PI attorney who advertised 19% rates, and ran a ton of commericals about how great he was for not taking 1/3rd. Since I don’t live there anymore, I have no idea if it worked out or not.

    While I have no objection to a lawyer lowering his contingent fees, I do wonder if a race to the bottom is really the way to go. I mean, can you imagine any of the white shoe firms beating each other up over fees: “We’ll beat their price by $75 an hour!”

    As I’ve noted before, if I ever need a lawyer, I’ll judge him or her on the basis of experience, and not race, gender, or price.

  • Motel 6 is flourishing!

    It was pretty daaumed tough selling a 40$ hotel room against a guy next door who sold his for $24.95!

    There are so many attorneys out there now price may as well start becoming a draw! I’ve paid high end fees and received low end results!

    I’ve paid high end fees and gotten my moneys worth as well.

    But the rate you pay has nothing to do with the level of lawyer you will get!

    It’s basically a crap shoot!

    Actually lawyers should start thinking about priceline.com!

  • What’s that I hear? The sound of market forces penetrating the seemingly impregnable walls of contingency fees? Perhaps those who are strongly opposed to a free-price system fee arrangement are really just reeling from the slap of Adam Smith’s invisible hand?

  • As someone who will have ongoing medical issues for the rest of my life, more of the recovery in my pocket would be nice.

    At least he is pro active.
    And I would go to him, especially if he can do it without having to go to trial, and recover over ten grand.

  • I mean, can you imagine any of the white shoe firms beating each other up over fees: “We’ll beat their price by $75 an hour!”

    Yes, not least because I saw such price competition regularly, especially from big potential clients like insurers that cared more about the blended rate than the likely total cost of representation.