Phase One: Attorney Engagement
This first phase of any lawsuit handled by the firm is the attorney engagement phase. This phase involves a detailed evaluation of the case by firm personnel for purposes of determining whether or not to take the case. This intake process is especially important when the firm is being asked to handle the matter on a contingency fee basis. Such a case requires the firm to spend dozens, if not hundreds, or even thousands of hours working on a case, as well as $30,000 to $50,000 or more in costs, with only the prospect of recovering those expenses from a successful result. Therefore, the firm must independently asses its risk in taking the case and will end up only taking a small percentage of possible cases presented to it, thereby rejecting many cases that are legitimate and even potentially successful. If the firm rejects your case, please do not consider the rejection an indication that the firm believes your case is without merit. On the other hand, if the firm agrees to take your case, it is also not making any representations that the case will be a success.
After intake evaluation, if the firm determines they are willing to handle the case, the client is presented with an attorney engagement letter, which is a standard agreement that lays out, among other things, the type of fee arrangement agreed upon. There are a broad range of possible fee engagement terms including: hourly, flat fee, contingency, and hybrid (mix of hourly and contingent). For a discussion of these forms of fee terms, please visit our page detailing how we get paid.
The client is then given a copy of the engagement letter to review. We encourage the client to ask questions about the engagement letter, and also to seek the advice of independent counsel if they wish. When the client is comfortable with the terms of the engagement letter, he or she signs it and returns it to the firm. The firm will then keep the original and give a copy of the fully-executed agreement to the client for their records. Once the engagement letter is executed, the lawsuit can begin.