The Contingency Fee Agreement is Relevant When an Attorney is Fired

The Minnesota Supreme Court established an eight-factor test to determine a lawyer’s contingency fee after a client fired the lawyer shortly before settling case.

The Court held that, under quantum meruit, the “fee arrangement existing between counsel and the client” is one of the factors.

Minnesota’s Contingency Fee Factors for Attorneys

The eight factors are

  1. time and labor required;
  2. nature and difficulty of the responsibility assumed;
  3. amount involved and the results obtained;
  4. fees customarily charged for similar legal services;
  5. experience, reputation, and ability of counsel;
  6. fee arrangement existing between counsel and the client;
  7. contributions of others; and
  8. timing of the termination.

Obviously, the fee agreement is not dispositive. “The fee agreement ‘is merely one factor, among a host of others that the district court is to consider in awarding reasonable attorney fees,'” the Court explained.

Hours Worked vs. Contingency Outcome

A court will consider hours worked and the contingency fee agreement. The Court explained, “evidence of the hours worked is the only measure of the value of those services” because a “calculation of a quantum meruit award is instead an equitable process by which the court determines the reasonable value of services based on a variety of factors, which, ultimately, produces an equitable remedy.”

Read the case here: Faricy Law Firm v. API, I, 912 N.W.2d 652 (Minn. 2018).