3 Ways Contingency Fee Law Firms Provide Equal Access to Jus

3 Ways Contingency Fee Law Firms Provide Equal Access to Justice

Too often, the amount of money one has determines their proximity to justice.

Fortunately, the American justice system can help, but only in criminal cases, where anyone has the right to counsel if they can’t afford it.

If you’re facing a civil matter, however, there’s no such right.

And if you’re a low-income American, like almost 50 million people across the nation, taking a civil case to court won’t just be difficult – it’ll be almost impossible due to the sheer cost of litigation, ramping up to $327 per hour on average in 2022.

This discrepancy in the American legal system is failing an entire sector of low-income Americans who are more likely to experience a civil issue yet are less likely to have access to the same system that should, in theory, help them. So, when you consider that 74% of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem in 2022, their question shifts from “Do I have enough evidence to make a case?” to “How can I even afford to make a case?”

That’s where contingency fee law firms come in.

Leveraging a contingency fee business model, law firms can better serve more vulnerable populations and, in turn, afford their clients a true chance to fight for justice without the added fear of financing. Let’s explore the three main ways contingency fee law firms are improving equal access to justice in America.

  1. Contingency fee law firms ease a plaintiff’s burden straight away

When an individual approaches a law firm about trying a civil case, they’re likely experiencing more than just a financial burden caused by their situation. They could be fighting to preserve their home, to support their family, to free themselves from an unsafe relationship, or to receive the health care they need.

“Unfortunately, our clients who are injured in construction accidents, they need their body to earn their living,” says Jeffrey Laffey, managing partner of Laffey Bucci Kent, a contingency fee law firm in Philadelphia, PA. “I can’t heal their injuries, but at least I can put them in a place where they can sleep better at night knowing there is some financial stability to the instability caused by the accident, and in particular, the negligence of the construction site.”

Because of the sensitive nature of civil matters, plaintiffs may not have the resources to afford and fully pursue legal services – especially if they’re the breadwinner. In extreme cases, such as medical malpractice, the plaintiff may have endured catastrophic injuries at the hands of a professional or institution that was supposed to protect them.

“I was in court for the approval of a resolution of a case where a child was catastrophically injured and will need full-time care for the rest of his life. And the parents, they’re young, but their child will outlive them. And they’re very concerned about how that child is going to be cared for after they’re gone,” recalls Elise R. Sanguinetti, founding partner of her own contingency fee law firm in Los Angeles, CA, Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos LLP. “What we hope to do is provide that family with the knowledge that their child will be taken care of after they pass.”

By waiving an hourly fee and/or upfront retainer from the litigation equation, contingency fee law firms are helping bridge the gap between low-income individuals and equal access to the legal help they need.

How do you get equal access to justice?

  1. Contingency-fee firms level the playing field, regardless of socioeconomic status

They say justice is blind, but she does have a price. Fortunately, contingency fee law firms set a person’s socioeconomic status to the wayside, giving them a fair shot in court – an opportunity they otherwise wouldn’t have, given their opponent’s deep pockets.

Because when it comes to other civil matters among low-income Americans, consumer issues are at the top, including debt difficulties, shut-off utilities like water or electricity, money scams, and the like. What makes these cases unique is that the plaintiff isn’t taking on one person but a corporate giant.

“I represent clients who are homeless and clients who are very wealthy. It doesn’t matter to me because we get to level the playing field,” said Reza Torkzadeh, founder and CEO of his contingency fee law firm, TorkLaw, based in Los Angeles. “The average consumer doesn’t stand a chance against a multibillion-dollar insurance company who has unlimited funds to hire an army of lawyers to take on a consumer who [can’t even] afford an attorney.”

Contingency fee law firms can help because not only do they understand civil litigation, but they understand the inner workings of large institutions. This level of support helps instill confidence in plaintiffs who may already be in difficult positions trying to make ends meet.

“What I love about the law is that it’s about accountability. It’s about holding institutions responsible for their egregious conduct. It’s about reminding companies that they do have a duty and they’ll be held accountable if they violate that duty,” said Laffey.

In this way, contingency fee law firms empower their clients with the resources to take on institutions without fear of falling into a money pit, all while improving their chances for a favorable outcome.

Trial Lawyers for you!

  1. Contingency fee law firms take on the risk of “loss” so the plaintiff doesn’t have to

Through the contingency fee business model, the high stakes are in the hands of attorneys with a wide breadth and depth of expertise, resources, and experience trying civil cases. Still, there is always a risk of loss.

“We take the risk of accepting a case, of spending a significant amount of money turning over every stone and hiring the most qualified experts for the subject matter in the case. And it’s not cheap,” said Laffey. “With high risk comes high reward, and we’ve been quite successful in maximizing the results for our clients because we’ve had the financial freedom to handle the case as it should be handled. It’s a win-win for the firm and our clients.”

“Financial freedom” isn’t something all contingency fee law firms have since the high costs of a trial can substantially impact the firm’s cash flow. This need for stability is a top reason why several successful contingency fee law firms choose a finance partner like Esquire Bank to start gaining the liquidity and capital they need for case disbursements.

Shouldering both the financial and legal responsibility takes the pressure off plaintiffs who, in many cases, may feel helpless in a legal battle, no matter if they have a good case or not. In turn, contingency fee law firms are increasing their odds of victory – and justice.

“We take a big risk in handling these complex, catastrophic cases. On average, they exceed six figures. So we need that backing from Esquire Bank. And we get it. Because of that, we’re able to get the results we’re so proud of,” said Laffey.

Shifting the focus from finances to problem-solving empowers contingency fee law firms to seek the truth for their clients and, in turn, find the justice they deserve.

Read more trial attorneys’ and contingency fee law firms’ stories of social justice – or share your own – by going to justice.esquirebank.com.




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