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Contingent Fee Litigation in New York City

Posted by on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 in Volume 70, Volume 70, Number 6.

Contingent Fee Litigation in New York City


Since 1957, New York courts have required contingent fee lawyers to file “closing statements” that disclose settlement amounts, lawyers’ fees, an accounting of expenses, and other information. This Article provides a preliminary analysis of these data for the period 2004–2013. Among this Article’s findings are that settlement rates in New York state courts are very high (84%) relative to previous studies; that very few cases are resolved by dispositive motions; that litigated cases and settled cases have almost exactly the same average recovery; that median litigation expenses, other than attorney’s fees, are 3% of gross recovery; that claims are disproportionately from poor neighborhoods; and that attorneys’ fees are almost always one-third of net recovery, which is the maximum allowed by law.


Eric Helland

William F. Podlich Professor of Economics, Claremont McKenna College, and Senior Economist, RAND

Daniel Klerman

Charles L. and Ramona I. Hilliard Professor of Law and History

Brendan Dowling

J.D. student, USC Law School

Alexander Kappner

Associate, Knobbe Martens