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Settlement Conflict with Lawyer

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quincy

Senior Member
Received contact via email today asking if I am available for a conference call on Friday to discuss this matter. Not sure if they will try to negotiate or intimidate.

I will hear them out but am in no hurry to do anything.
Your current attorney might be entitled to at least 33 1/3% of the settlement amount - and you probably should expect to pay more overall if you have to find another attorney.

That said, you could have an attorney in your area review all facts of your settlement to date and possibly help you handle the conference call, this if you fear intimidation.

That clause in the contract you signed is problematic. You can review Rule 1.16 of the Rules of Professional Conduct at the link provided earlier.

Good luck
 
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zddoodah

Active Member
I did tell them, via email, that I made that change before they executed the contract. They did not respond to my comment, but sent back the fully executed contract. Change was very obvious. There was no intent to sneak it in. Changes were made in clear view and highlighted to the lawyers.
That's a good thing for you. Nevertheless, you still have to consider that the fee that would be awarded to the current attorney plus whatever a new attorney will charge will exceed the 40% that the current lawyer is seeking. Thus, you might have the better argument but any victory might by pyrrhic.

This is probably best resolved by reasoned negotiation.
 

Dale Sr

Member
Your current attorney might be entitled to at least 33 1/3% of the settlement amount - and you probably should expect to pay more overall if you have to find another attorney.

That said, you could have an attorney in your area review all facts of your settlement to date and possibly help you handle the conference call, this if you fear intimidation.

That clause in the contract you signed is problematic. You can review Rule 1.16 of the Rules of Professional Conduct at the link provided earlier.

Good luck
Thanks. I am going to hear them out tomorrow and take things from there.

I did not sense an aggressive tone in the email, but we will see. Don't need a c-call for them to just say OK, we will accept 33 1/3%. .
 
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quincy

Senior Member
Thanks. I am going to hear them out tomorrow and take things from there.

I did not sense an aggressive tone in the email, but we will see. Don't need a c-call for that.
I think you are smart to see what the attorneys have to say. Some attorneys will seriously consider a cut in their fee if it helps to settle both the case and the dispute with their client.

Just keep in the back of your mind that the attorneys were working on your behalf and probably invested a lot of their time and their own money to reach a settlement with the company in Missouri.

Good luck.
 

Dale Sr

Member
Your current attorney might be entitled to at least 33 1/3% of the settlement amount - and you probably should expect to pay more overall if you have to find another attorney.

That said, you could have an attorney in your area review all facts of your settlement to date and possibly help you handle the conference call, this if you fear intimidation.

That clause in the contract you signed is problematic. You can review Rule 1.16 of the Rules of Professional Conduct at the link provided earlier.

Good luck
So I met with them (over the phone).

Highlights:

1. Meeting was with two people I never corresponded with before. One introduced himself as a partner of the firm. The second did not explicitly state her role with the firm, but left me with the impression that she was an accountant, business manager of office manager of some sort.

I was on the call by myself.

The call was recorded. I agreed to that. I mostly listened anyway.

2. They were professional, polite and cordial. That is not to say that they weren't firm when we "talked turkey", but at not point did I feel they were trying to bully or intimidate me.

3. They conceded that they should have noticed my edits, as well was my comments in the email highlighting those edits.

4. They said they would not have represented me if they were aware of the terms I required. They also offered an explanation that I found interesting and was one of the biggest take-a-ways from the call. They said that their usual terms for a civil suit are for their share of the settlement to be taken directly from the settlement amount. Then 100% of expert witness testimony costs come out of their client's share of the settlement. Wow!!

They said they usually take 1/3 of the settlement, calculated as described above. But in this case, they chose to have the expert witness costs come off the top of the settlement before the 60/40 split occur. They said they did this bc the nature of the case was such that they expected this approach would be more beneficial to their clients. They offered to share numbers with me to prove that this did, in fact, end up being true.

I declined their offer to review their numbers. I don't doubt they are telling the truth.

5. Ultimately they offered to "split the difference" with me, giving them 36 2/3% and the rest to me (of course after witness costs were taken off the top). They made it clear that if I refused this offer, they would return the case to me to pursue on my own, but reminded me that they would still be due compensation for their work if I received settlement funds. They did not say how much.

6. I thanked them for the offer and told them I would get back to them next week.

So that is basically it for the meeting....Now, some of my thoughts.

a) I don't believe they would really walk away from their share (even the 33 1/3% if I let the case fall), I believe that is a bluff. But who will wait longer? Them or me?

b) Their explanation about how they usually structure comp for their cases did hit a cord with me. I had not considered that at all. From what I have read on-line, what they describe does seem to be the norm (of which I was unaware). But upping their share to 40% shows me they were not trying to be that magnanimous, but it does carry some weight with me.

c) I wonder what my chances would be at getting the settlement funds on my own from the company we sued? At this point, I have pretty much ruled out the option of getting another lawyer involved. I either accept their offer, try to negotiate with them further or try going it on my ow,

I plan to think about this for a few days, talk to some people I trust and then decide how to proceed.

At this point, this is really a negotiating strategy dilemma, not a legal situation. But if people want to weigh in with thoughts, feel free. I would be especially interested in thoughts on my chances of collecting settlement on my own if I tried to go that route.

Thanks.
 

quincy

Senior Member
So I met with them (over the phone).

Highlights:

1. Meeting was with two people I never corresponded with before. One introduced himself as a partner of the firm. The second did not explicitly state her role with the firm, but left me with the impression that she was an accountant, business manager of office manager of some sort.

I was on the call by myself.

The call was recorded. I agreed to that. I mostly listened anyway.

2. They were professional, polite and cordial. That is not to say that they weren't firm when we "talked turkey", but at not point did I feel they were trying to bully or intimidate me.

3. They conceded that they should have noticed my edits, as well was my comments in the email highlighting those edits.

4. They said they would not have represented me if they were aware of the terms I required. They also offered an explanation that I found interesting and was one of the biggest take-a-ways from the call. They said that their usual terms for a civil suit are for their share of the settlement to be taken directly from the settlement amount. Then 100% of expert witness testimony costs come out of their client's share of the settlement. Wow!!

They said they usually take 1/3 of the settlement, calculated as described above. But in this case, they chose to have the expert witness costs come off the top of the settlement before the 60/40 split occur. They said they did this bc the nature of the case was such that they expected this approach would be more beneficial to their clients. They offered to share numbers with me to prove that this did, in fact, end up being true.

I declined their offer to review their numbers. I don't doubt they are telling the truth.

5. Ultimately they offered to "split the difference" with me, giving them 36 2/3% and the rest to me (of course after witness costs were taken off the top). They made it clear that if I refused this offer, they would return the case to me to pursue on my own, but reminded me that they would still be due compensation for their work if I received settlement funds. They did not say how much.

6. I thanked them for the offer and told them I would get back to them next week.

So that is basically it for the meeting....Now, some of my thoughts.

a) I don't believe they would really walk away from their share (even the 33 1/3% if I let the case fall), I believe that is a bluff. But who will wait longer? Them or me?

b) Their explanation about how they usually structure comp for their cases did hit a cord with me. I had not considered that at all. From what I have read on-line, what they describe does seem to be the norm (of which I was unaware). But upping their share to 40% shows me they were not trying to be that magnanimous, but it does carry some weight with me.

c) I wonder what my chances would be at getting the settlement funds on my own from the company we sued? At this point, I have pretty much ruled out the option of getting another lawyer involved. I either accept their offer, try to negotiate with them further or try going it on my ow,

I plan to think about this for a few days, talk to some people I trust and then decide how to proceed.

At this point, this is really a negotiating strategy dilemma, not a legal situation. But if people want to weigh in with thoughts, feel free. I would be especially interested in thoughts on my chances of collecting settlement on my own if I tried to go that route.

Thanks.
Thank you for returning with the update.

I think the attorney’s offer sounds fair - but this is ultimately is a decision you will have to make on your own (or on consultation with an attorney in your area).

I honestly don’t know how you will do trying to settle with the company on your own.
 

zddoodah

Active Member
They also offered an explanation that I found interesting and was one of the biggest take-a-ways from the call. They said that their usual terms for a civil suit are for their share of the settlement to be taken directly from the settlement amount. Then 100% of expert witness testimony costs come out of their client's share of the settlement. Wow!!
That's typical. Most contingent fee lawyers get paid based on the gross settlement amount.


I don't believe they would really walk away from their share (even the 33 1/3% if I let the case fall), I believe that is a bluff. But who will wait longer? Them or me?
The firm isn't going to walk away from the money, and you can bet that the firm would come up with an argument that a "reasonable fee" for services provided would approximate at least 1/3.

We have no way of intelligently assessing the likelihood that you can handle things on your own from here on out.
 

Dale Sr

Member
That's typical. Most contingent fee lawyers get paid based on the gross settlement amount.




The firm isn't going to walk away from the money, and you can bet that the firm would come up with an argument that a "reasonable fee" for services provided would approximate at least 1/3.

We have no way of intelligently assessing the likelihood that you can handle things on your own from here on out.
When I say walk away, I mean risk losing their 1/3 by virtue of turning it over to me and me failing to collect the settlement. Neither of us would get anything if they turned over to me and I failed to collect.
 

quincy

Senior Member
Dale, you really should run all numbers by a professional in your area to see how the difference in percentages work out, with the 40% that includes expert witness fees, and with 36 2/3% and the 33 1/3% that would not include these fees (and hence come out of your dollars).

I think you should be a bit wary of testing the patience of the attorneys too much by continuing negotiation and delaying a decision. Although you seem to have a good argument for 33 1/3%, I think you should seriously consider your true desire and ability to tackle the case in Missouri on your own.

I recommend you personally review your conundrum with another attorney in New York.

Good luck.

When I say walk away, I mean risk losing their 1/3 by virtue of turning it over to me and me failing to collect the settlement. Neither of us would get anything if they turned over to me and I failed to collect.
 

Dale Sr

Member
Dale, you really should run all numbers by a professional in your area to see how the difference in percentages work out, with the 40% that includes expert witness fees, and with 36 2/3% and the 33 1/3% that would not include these fees (and hence come out of your dollars).

I think you should be a bit wary of testing the patience of the attorneys too much by continuing negotiation and delaying a decision. Although you seem to have a good argument for 33 1/3%, I think you should seriously consider your true desire and ability to tackle the case in Missouri on your own.

I recommend you personally review your conundrum with another attorney in New York.

Good luck.
The numbers are clear. The original difference was ~$25k and now it is about half that. My numbers align perfectly with theirs. None of that is in question.

It is a really simple calculation.

Total Settlement Amount = X
Witness Fees = Y
Amount to be split between Attorney and me = (X-Y)

Split allocation is either 40%, 36 2/3% or 33 1/3% to lawyer.

Remainder to me.

Unless I take over settlement collection and screw it up, in which case we would both get nothing.

Getting another lawyer involved at this point is not an option I am entertaining.

I either:

a) Accept their offer
b) Make a counter offer
c) Reject their offer (effectively call their bluff) and agree to take over settlement collection my own

I still haven't made a decision, but after thinking about for half a day, I am leaning toward option b.

I am in no rush. Will think about it for a few days at least.
 
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quincy

Senior Member
The numbers are clear. The original difference was ~$25k and now it is about half that. My numbers align perfectly with theirs. None of that is in question.
Okay. Good. :)

In that case, you can continue to try to negotiate a lower percentage, you can accept their offer, you can file a fee dispute complaint and see what happens, you can try to manage the case on your own ...

... the decision is yours to make. It is not an easy one so I wish you good luck.
 

Dale Sr

Member
UPDATE:

After thinking about it for a few days, reading the comments in here and talking with some people I trust, I went with Option B. I made a counter offer. A creative one, IMO.

Throughout the 3+ years this suit has been progressing, there was 1 lawyer and 1 paralegal who I interacted with regularly. I became friendly with them, even on a personal level to some extent. Neither are involved (at least with me) in the current dispute. The firm itself is a very large and prominent Manhattan based firm. I'm sure many of you know it. I learned from one of the 2 guys I dealt with regularly that one of the perks they got on occasion by working there was access to tickets to the various NY based sports team that the firm has season tickets to. I am a huge Yankees fan. Their firm has 4 Legends seat at Yankee Stadium. Face value for these seats are $750/seat/game. On Stub-Hub, they go for 3x-4x that amount. Way out of my price range.

So my counter offer, sent by email, was to accept the 36 2/3% they proposed, but add 2 legend tix to one regular season game a year for as long as they own the season tix and I am living and capable of going to a game.

I sent that offer late yesterday afternoon.

I got a call at 9AM this morning from the lady who was in the call last week who I described as an accountant or business manager. She said she would gladly work with me each year to make the ticket request happen if I accepted the 36 2/3%. I thanked her, but said I really wanted the agreement to be official and in writing. She said that it might be difficult for that to happen but she would take it back "to the lawyers" and see if they agree.

So now I wait.
 

quincy

Senior Member
UPDATE:

After thinking about it for a few days, reading the comments in here and talking with some people I trust, I went with Option B. I made a counter offer. A creative one, IMO.

Throughout the 3+ years this suit has been progressing, there was 1 lawyer and 1 paralegal who I interacted with regularly. I became friendly with them, even on a personal level to some extent. Neither are involved (at least with me) in the current dispute. The firm itself is a very large and prominent Manhattan based firm. I'm sure many of you know it. I learned from one of the 2 guys I dealt with regularly that one of the perks they got on occasion by working there was access to tickets to the various NY based sports team that the firm has season tickets to. I am a huge Yankees fan. Their firm has 4 Legends seat at Yankee Stadium. Face value for these seats are $750/seat/game. On Stub-Hub, they go for 3x-4x that amount. Way out of my price range.

So my counter offer, sent by email, was to accept the 36 2/3% they proposed, but add 2 legend tix to one regular season game a year for as long as they own the season tix and I am living and capable of going to a game.

I sent that offer late yesterday afternoon.

I got a call at 9AM this morning from the lady who was in the call last week who I described as an accountant or business manager. She said she would gladly work with me each year to make the ticket request happen if I accepted the 36 2/3%. I thanked her, but said I really wanted the agreement to be official and in writing. She said that it might be difficult for that to happen but she would take it back "to the lawyers" and see if they agree.

So now I wait.
Very creative. Nice counteroffer. Let us know what happens. :)

I just hope the Yankees (and other teams) are actually able to play before a stadium full of fans this year.
 

Dale Sr

Member
They came back and said they would do the ticket deal with me for 10 years (as long as they keep buying season tix), but not for life. I accepted. The chances of me being around for another 10 years and being in good enough shape to go a game are not that good. So 10 years works for me.

Waiting for it in writing and then I will sign.

Thanks for the input.
 

quincy

Senior Member
They came back and said they would do the ticket deal with me for 10 years (as long as they keep buying season tix), but not for life. I accepted. The chances of me being around for another 10 years and being in good enough shape to go a game are not that good. So 10 years works for me.

Waiting for it in writing and then I will sign.

Thanks for the input.
You managed the negotiating well. Congratulations.

Enjoy the games! :)
 

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