General Counsel Experiment With Full Contingency Fees

When Charles Snyder, the owner of Instant Fire Protection, a small fire-safety company based in Los Angeles, decided to sue two companies for breach of contract, he asked his outside lawyers to work on a full contingency fee basis.

"I got screwed by my own attorneys [previously], and it cost me $400,000,"

Determining the likelihood of success can be tricky. "No matter how much work you do up front, you're probably not able to do all the legal research you need to do," Valle says. He's a big fan of the morality plays involved in cases.

"I'd love to have some smoking guns if possible, but those may require discovery. I'm not enormously worried about particular legal barriers unless there's a killer statute of limitations problem."

Whitwell believes that blended contingency and full contingency arrangements only make sense for corporations in the right situation. "If there's a huge amount of controversy, you don't want to wind up paying the lawyers $20 million. There can be cases that can be too big and

too small."

staff Writer

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