A CONTINGENT RETAINER AGREEMENT IN NEVADA MUST:
- Be in Writing
- Outline Expenses
- What happens if the Case is Lost
- Suit not filed to Harass the other side
- Final Accounting Provision
In Nevada, a contingency fee agreement must be in writing and it must be signed by the client. A contingent fee agreement is an agreement where the fee is to be determined by the recovery on the case. The fee agreement must outline the percentage of the attorney fee and whether expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingency fee is calculated. The average attorney’s fees contingent contract in Nevada vary from 33%-40% based on many years of personal experience. It must also state whether the client is liable for expenses regardless of the outcome of the case including if the case is lost. Expenses include things like obtaining the police report, copies, and medical records, filing fees for court documents, fees for service of process, fees for taking depositions, expert fees and various other expenses associated with litigation.
State bar of Nevada has rules governing attorney’s fees. Nevada Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5 states which factors are to be considered when determining whether or not a fee for an attorney is reasonable. On matters billed on an hourly rate or on retainer, the fee must reflect the time and labor involved, the difficulty of the legal questions, and the skills required to perform the legal services properly. It is also to be considered whether the attorney would be conflicted out of other work based upon handling the case of the client. The fee should be determined by reasonable and customary charges in the location in which the services are rendered and the dollar amount involved in the results sought to be obtained. Another factor to be considered when determining the reasonableness of a retainer or hourly fee is the nature of the professional relationship with the client and experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer performing the services. Nevada Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5 states as follows:
Rule 1.5. Fees.
(a) A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:
(1) The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(2) The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) The amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) The time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(6) The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
(8) Whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
(b) The scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, except when the lawyer will charge a regularly represented client on the same basis or rate. Any changes in the basis or rate of the fee or expenses shall also be communicated to the client.
(c) A fee may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered, except in a matter in which a contingent fee is prohibited by paragraph (d) or other law. A contingent fee agreement shall be in writing, signed by the client, and shall state, in boldface type that is at least as large as the largest type used in the contingent fee agreement:
(1) The method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial or appeal;
(2) Whether litigation and other expenses are to be deducted from the recovery, and whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated;
(3) Whether the client is liable for expenses regardless of outcome;
(4) That, in the event of a loss, the client may be liable for the opposing party’s attorney fees, and will be liable for the opposing party’s costs as required by law; and
(5) That a suit brought solely to harass or to coerce a settlement may result in liability for malicious prosecution or abuse of process.
Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter, the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement stating the outcome of the matter and, if there is a recovery, showing the remittance to the client and the method of its determination.
(d) A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:
(1) Any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or
(2) A contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.
(e) A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:
(2) The client agrees to the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing; and
(3) The total fee is reasonable.[Added; effective May 1, 2006.]
Generally, there are four basic types of fee arrangements in civil cases:
- Hourly rate– Here, the attorney gets paid an agreed-upon hourly rate for time spent working on all aspects of a client’s case until it is resolved. The hourly rate depends on each attorney’s experience, operating expenses, and the location of his or her practice. In rural areas and small towns, lawyers tend to charge less, and fees in the range of $100 to $200 an hour for an experienced attorney are probably the norm. In major metropolitan areas, the norm is probably closer to $200 to $500 an hour. Lawyers with expertise in specialized areas may charge more. It is important to consider that cheaper isn’t necessarily better. A more expensive lawyer with a lot of experience may be able to handle a complex problem more quickly in fewer hours. Also, an experienced attorney will be able to better estimate how many lawyer hours a particular matter will take to resolve.
- Flat fee- Where a legal matter is simple and well-defined, lawyers typically charge a flat fee. Examples of flat fee matters include wills, uncontested divorces and simple bankruptcy If an attorney suggests or has advertised a flat fee, be sure you understand exactly what that fee will and will not cover. The flat fee might not include expenses such as filing fees. Flat fees are more common in routine matters such as traffic citations, simple bankruptcy cases, and some criminal matters. Often, a flat fee is negotiated to handle a matter to a certain point and if the matter is not resolved at that time, an additional fee is negotiated.
- Retainer — A retainer typically operates as an advance payment on an attorney’s hourly rate to handle a specific case. The lawyer puts the retainer funds in a special account called a trust account and deducts from that account the cost of services as they are rendered. In retainer fee agreements, the client pays an initial fee to begin representation on a particular case. The lawyer and the client should have a mutual understanding of exactly what the retainer will be used for and what will be covered by the initial retainer. The attorney is required to place the retainer funds into a trust account. As the attorney does work on the case, he bills the retainer and may pay his fees from the retainer account as the work is completed. If the retainer becomes insufficient, the attorney must ask the client for additional fees to be used to continue to work on the same matter. Conversely, if funds are unused at the conclusion of the matter, those funds are returned to the client.
- Contingency fee — In certain types of cases, attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means the attorney takes no fee from the client up-front, but gets a percentage (typically one-third) of any settlement or money judgment obtained on behalf of the client. Contingency fee arrangements are typical in personal injury lawsuits including auto accident and slip and fall cases. In medical malpractice cases, fees are limited by NRS 7.095.
If you or a loved one is injured, call our office immediately and we will make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve, and advise on how to preserve evidence. I take pride in personal representation of every client and spend time going over the retainer personally with every client before signing and answering all questions. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices today. At my office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.
At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims. Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.