When selecting an attorney, there are a number of important factors to consider. This article focuses on one: is the attorney you have contacted a "referral attorney"? Referral attorneys are attorneys who advertise to attract clients, but do not represent clients themselves. Instead, they forward the client on to another attorney. A typical referral attorney takes a fee as a percentage of the total recovery. Is my attorney a referral attorney? This is a simple question to answer - just ask them. A referral attorney will always, at some point, have to disclose that they will not be the primary attorney on your case.
They will eventually be forwarding you on to another lawyer. Generally, if your attorney is advertising on television or has run ads seeking victims of injuries caused by a specific product (Vioxx cases, asbestos or mesothelioma cases, diet drug cases, or other class action lawsuits), then they are probably a referral attorney. Will it cost me more money if I have contacted a referral attorney? Generally, no. The typical agreement between a referral attorney and the actual lawyer working on the case grants the referral attorney a percentage of the actual lawyer's fee. Instead of coming from the client, the money comes from the lawyer who eventually is the attorney on the case.
However, you should make sure that this is what your actual agreement is. A typical contingent fee case costs the client one third of the recovery. If you have contacted a referral attorney, ask what the ultimate percentage will be.
Why even bother with a referral attorney if I'm going to someone else anyway? If you know an attorney who is an expert in the field or who is handling that kind of case, there is generally no reason to. However, many people have absolutely no knowledge of the legal industry. They simply can't find an appropriate attorney on their own. A referral attorney usually only makes money if you win, so he will have an incentive to forward your case to a competent lawyer. Just make sure that you aren't being charged more for a referral - it's not worth paying extra to get it, especially because many other lawyers would be eager to point you to competent counsel for a cut themselves.
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