Pittsburgh Firm Negotiates $1.5 Million Settlement, Client Skips Out on Bill

Edgar Snyder made the phrase “no fee unless we get money for you” known throughout the state of Pennsylvania.  Many personal injury lawyers charge contingency fees, meaning that the attorney does not charge the client any money up front and only gets paid a portion of any settlement or verdict upon conclusion of a trial. If the lawyer doesn’t win, the lawyer doesn’t get paid. If the lawyer wins, then the lawyer often gets paid 30% to 40% of any award plus  expenses.

Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyers

In a recent case in Pittsburgh, the firm of Farrell & Reisinger negotiated $1.5 million settlement for a client, and the firm would have been entitled to be paid half a million dollars under its contingency fee agreement.  The firm even agreed to reduce it fee to $350,000.00.  While the clients had netted a substantial settlement, the client wanted to sue additional people.  The Pittsburgh personal injury firm did not want to take on the additional claims, so the firm referred the clients to another Pittsburgh civil attorney.  While the original firm had negotiated the settlement, the clients had not actually signed the settlement agreement before leaving for the new firm.  The settlement was officially signed after the clients switched attorneys, and the new attorney felt that he was entitled to the money and not Farrell & Reisinger.

Professional Reputation and Referrals

The new attorney faced both ethical and business issues in refusing to pay the referring firm its money that had been earned.  The first firm sued for the entire half million dollars that was originally owed under the representation agreement, and a Pittsburgh judge ruled in favor of the firm.  On a legal basis, a Pittsburgh judge has already ruled that the second firm was legally wrong for not having the client pay the firm of Farrell & Reisinger.

On another note, the first firm referred the clients to the second firm.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.  Most lawyers are appreciative of receiving client referrals from other lawyers.  Here, a firm received a referral from a colleague and then tried to cheat the firm out of the money that it earned. I understand that there was a lot of money at stake, $500,000, but the new firm probably has tarnished its reputation in the Pittsburgh legal community and is unlikely to get future referrals from most firms.

Hire an Attorney Respected by Peers

When people are considering what attorney to hire, they should investigate the lawyer’s reputation from both former clients and colleagues.  A client does not want to hire an attorney that is not respected by the judges or other attorneys. You may expect that an attorney would bad mouth his or her competitors. Some of the immoral attorneys do resort to slandering other attorneys to garner business, but that simply is not the case with good attorneys.

I am very proud that I received overwhelming support via peer reviews from other Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers, and my colleagues have nominated me Super Lawyer Rising Star attorney for the last 4 years. Professional reviews and awards are an indication of an attorney that is good at his trade.  I provide supportive peer reviews for my colleagues that I feel are deserving of my endorsement.  Lawyers have a bad reputation, partially because the bad lawyers give the good lawyers a bad name. The good lawyers endorse one another to reduce the likelihood that a prospective client retains an unqualified attorney.  Clients need to do their research before investing in an attorney.