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Allocating Settlement Authority under a Contingent-Fee Arrangement

Albert H. Choi

University of Virginia School of Law

May 16, 2003

A contingent fee contract improves a plaintiff's bargaining position against a defendant by providing incentive to the plaintiff's lawyer. Setting the lawyer's share of judgment high will induce more effort from the lawyer while keeping the lawyer's settlement share low will reduce the legal fees and the lawyer's rent. When the plaintiff negotiates against a tough-bargaining defendant, however, legal fee saving accrues mostly to the defendant through a lower settlement offer. To maximize her return from settlement, the plaintiff would want to delegate control to the lawyer, even though this leaves the lawyer a sizable rent. Delegation is most effective 1) when the lawyer is most expensive and 2) the size of the case is small, as in individual tort cases.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Keywords: litigation, contingent fee, delegation

JEL Classification: K12, K13, K41

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Date posted: October 25, 2001  

Suggested Citation

Choi, Albert H., Allocating Settlement Authority under a Contingent-Fee Arrangement (May 16, 2003). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=287925 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.287925

Contact Information

Albert H. Choi (Contact Author)
University of Virginia School of Law ( email )
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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