At Smith & Lo, we’re dedicated to transparency. So we put our fee structure right here on our website for all potential clients to see. That way, you know what you’re getting into and you know you’re getting the same deal as the rest of our clients.
Most of our clients have had their rights violated by their employer. That usually hurts them financially, so it’s understandable that many cannot afford a lawyer. That’s why we take our cases on a contingent fee basis.
This means that, if we take your case, you pay nothing unless you win. We advance our time and litigation costs, and then we take a portion of what you recover and reimburse ourselves for the litigation costs we advanced.
The rest belongs to you!
How It Works
If you win, there are two amounts deducted from your recovery before you receive it: the attorney fees that compensate us for our work, and the costs of any litigation or case expenses we advanced on your behalf.
In a contingent fee arrangement we only get paid a percentage of what is recovered in your case. If you don’t win, we don’t get paid.
This type of agreement is popular with our clients because it ensures that our pay is tied to their recovery. Meaning, we have an incentive to seek a favorable outcome on our client’s behalf. If you win, we win. Also, we require no upfront attorney fees, which can make the process of retaining our services easy.
If we choose to accept your case on a contingent fee basis, our attorney fees are 40% of the total recovery if your case resolves before a lawsuit is filed, before the formal initiation of arbitration proceedings, before the formal initiation of proceedings with governmental agency, or before the filing of some other type of complaint.
If your case resolves after that time, our attorney fees are 45% of the total recovery in your case.
If we recover fees or costs on your behalf, our attorney fees will be the greater of either: a percentage of the total recovery, or the attorney fees designated in a settlement, order, or award.
This means that, in some cases, the employer will be responsible for paying all of our fees and expenses and our client gets to keep the entire amount of their damages. Pretty sweet, right?
The costs of pursuing a lawsuit are not limited to attorney fees. Many cases require the payment of a variety of legal expenses. In most cases, we are willing to advance litigation expenses in the event a lawsuit is filed on your behalf while we represent you.
If we choose to advance litigation costs in your case, those costs are deducted from any recovery after our attorney fees have been paid. Because we do not profit from these expenses, we deduct only the actual cost we advanced.
Litigation expenses can include, among other expenses, the following:
- Filing Fees. Every lawsuit involves a number of court filings, each of which cost money to file. For example, courts in both Los Angeles and Orange County charges $435.00 to file the initial lawsuit documents.
- Process Serving Fees. In most cases, the opposing party needs to be formally served by a process server. These fees can be several hundred dollars or more depending on the number of people you need to sue and how difficult they are to locate.
- Deposition Fees. A deposition is a type of recorded interview that attorneys conduct when preparing for a trial. It allows us to question important witnesses in your case. The fees to conduct a deposition vary depending on how much time the deposition requires.
- Mediation or Arbitration Fees. In some cases, forms of alternative dispute resolution must be pursued. These situations often arise when, as part of an employment contract, the employee has signed an arbitration or mediation agreement. Mediation and arbitration can be costly.
- Expert Witness Fees. Expert witnesses can help support certain aspects of a cases. Hiring them as consultants or witnesses is not free. The most common expert we consult are medical professionals in wrongful termination or disability cases.
What If You Don’t Win?
If your case is unsuccessful (meaning, no recovery is obtained in your dispute), we bear the risk of losing any of the litigation expenses we already paid for. So, in the event you recover nothing, you don’t have to pay us back for any expenses we paid during the litigation in your case that are listed above.
Because we face a significant risk in taking on cases, we are often very selective. This means that we usually won’t file a lawsuit in a case unless we think there is a strong chance it will win.
Of course, the outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. As such, we never make any guarantees, warranties, or predictions about the outcome of your legal case.
In some unusual cases, a defendant will decide to file a counter-claim or seek attorney fees from a losing plaintiff. We try to avoid taking cases where that is a risk. But, if it does happen, our representation does not extent to defending against any cross-claims or counter-claims (unless we’ve specifically agreed to that). Nor are we responsible for any award of fees or costs against our client, unless specifically ordered by the court.
In unusual situations, our clients request to pay us for specific tasks on an hourly basis. This is not the usual way we take cases, because hourly rates can add up fast. But, if you strongly prefer to hire us for an issue that would be better handled on an hourly basis, we are willing to consider taking it on under an hourly arrangement.
Under this kind of agreement, you would pay a retainer deposit in a pre-agreed amount. We would then deduct our hourly rate from the retainer deposit as we earn it. Our hourly fee is $350.00 per hour. Depending on complexity of your case, the time required to assist you could be just a few hours, or a few hundred hours.
The time required in each case depends on the tasks required, how strong the facts of the case are, the defenses raised by the employer, and the state of the controlling law. Additionally, some employers may choose to vigorously fight even small matters, while others are interested in settling quickly for a reasonable amount.
Our hourly agreements are usually a good idea for clients who require assistance with minor issues, defense cases, or non-litigation issues in which no substantial monetary recovery is likely to be obtained.
The costs and expenses of every employment law case will vary from case to case. The best fee arrangement will depend primarily on what you are most comfortable with and what you can afford. Fortunately, our fee arrangements make representation available for many aggrieved employees.
If you are interested in learning more about the costs of hiring an employment lawyer, please call us at (310) 340-7677 to schedule a consultation today.