Contingent-fee lawyers and their clients: Settlement expectations, settlement realities, and issues of control in the lawyer-client relationship

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

One hallmark of Herb Jacob's analyses of criminal courts - extensive consideration of the interaction among actors - was less pronounced in his work on civil justice, which was more focused on institutions and the politics behind the laws that those institutions administered. In the research I report here, my emphasis is squarely on the actors in the civil justice process: the relationship between contingency-fee lawyers and clients, and how that relationship plays out in the settlement process. In Felony Justice, Herb, and his coauthor James Eisenstein, focus on the courtroom workgroup as a caseprocessing (and, largely, case-settling) machine; clients are relatively peripheral. In my account, clients, both current and future, are extremely important in how the lawyer works to settle cases. In the criminal court workgroup, lawyers do not worry about where future clients will come from because police secure them. In contrast, the contingency-fee lawyer has constant concerns about future clients, and I argue, this concern provides a control over lawyers that prior analyses of the contingency fee have largely missed. This dynamic also may explain why the courtroom workgroups, or court communities, found in the criminal courts do not appear to exist in the civil justice system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-821
Number of pages27
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Contingent-fee lawyers and their clients: Settlement expectations, settlement realities, and issues of control in the lawyer-client relationship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this