Sometimes Lawyers Help People by Declining Their Case
Some time ago a woman contacted me about representing her against the manufacturer of some prescription medications she took while pregnant. Her child had a birth defect, and she has seen advertising related to those drugs and birth defects. She e-mailed me and I had to give her the bad news that I couldn't help her. It turns out that the birth defect her child has is not associated with the drug that she took. Whatever the cause of her child's injuries, the drug was definitely not to blame.
She was kind enough to send me an email telling me that she had been feeling incredibly guilty thinking she caused her child's injuries. My review of her potential case took that weight off of her shoulders and is changing the way she is dealing with her child's injuries. She was incredibly grateful that I took the time to research the literature and see if she had a case.
I was incredibly grateful that she took the time to thank me. I truly did get into law to help people, and I am unfortunately often forced to tell people I can't help them for some reason or another. I always feel bad when that happens, so it really brightened my day to hear that I did in fact help her.
I was able to help her by researching her case thanks to the contingency fee. I gamble my time and money on potential cases. If I win, I get paid. If I don't win, I don't get paid. My clients never have to write me a check for my services.
The contingency fee is what allows average citizens to hire lawyers to represent them. Most folks can't afford the $200 to $500 per hour lawyers charge these days.
Not surprisingly, many large corporations want to restrict contingency fee representation because it allows average citizens to hire lawyers to sue them. But that's a blog post for another day.