The Contingency Fee Agreement is Relevant When an Attorney is Fired

May 7, 2019

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,┬áthe “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).

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