Contingent Fee Representation
When a case is handled on a contingent fee basis, the attorney does not collect a fee unless and until the case is won at trial, or beyond, or the case is settled to the satisfaction of the client.
The attorney typically enters into a written agreement with the client that the attorney will be paid a percentage of what the attorney recovers for the client—typically one third of the amount of the recovery.
The fee escalates if the case has to be taken to trial. And, if the attorney must appeal the trial court ruling, or defend an appeal, the fee escalates a little more.
During the course of the case, the attorney usually keeps track of his or her time spent on the case, but does not bill for the time spent. The attorney will however bill for out of pocket costs, such as service of process, deposition transcripts, filing fees, court costs and the like. Those out of pocket costs are the responsibility of the client.
In summary, a client has responsibility to pay for the day to day expenses of the case, but the client does not have to pay for the legal representation until a successful result has been achieved.