Contingent Fee Litigation in New York City

Published in: Vanderbilt Law Review, Volume 70, Number 6 (November 2017), pages 1971-1992

Posted on RAND.org on January 30, 2018

by Eric Helland, Daniel Marc Klerman, Brendan Dowling, Alexander Kappner

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Since 1957, New York courts have required contingent fee lawyers to file "closing statements" that disclose settlement amounts, lawyers' fees, an accounting of expenses, and other information. This Article provides a preliminary analysis of these data for the period 2004–2013. Among this Article's findings are that settlement rates in New York state courts are very high (84%) relative to previous studies; that very few cases are resolved by dispositive motions; that litigated cases and settled cases have almost exactly the same average recovery; that median litigation expenses, other than attorneys' fees, are 3% of gross recovery; that claims are disproportionately from poor neighborhoods; and that attorneys' fees are almost always one-third of net recovery, which is the maximum allowed by law.

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