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Unconscionable, by Craig Ball, Ball In Your Court Blog


 Before I limited my law practice to work for courts and counsel, I was a trial lawyer working for contingent fees.  For 20+ years, I never charged for an hour of my time.  I funded the cases, did the work and was paid only if I recovered damages for my clients.  I charged 40% plus expenses; so, for the most part my clients and I shared roughly equally in the outcome.  At the time, I thought my fees proper, and they were certainly ‘industry standard.’  Everyone charged about the same, not from collusion but from plagiarism: lawyers didn’t draft fee agreements; we copied them.

But as I look back, I see that I could have charged less—even much less—and still have made a good living.  The only limits on what I could charge were the marketplace, where I saw no competition on price, and ethical precepts dictating a lawyer may not charge an illegal or unconscionable fee. . . .