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Lawyers Seeking Clients, Clients Seeking Lawyers: Sources of Contingency Fee Cases and Their Implications for Case Handling

Posted: 30 Jul 1998  

Herbert M. Kritzer

University of Minnesota Law School

Jayanth K. Krishnan

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: August 1997

Abstract

This paper examines the ways that Wisconsin contingency fee lawyers obtain clients. It draws upon a survey of Wisconsin practitioners, three months of observation in lawyers' offices, semi-structured interviews with practitioners, a survey of recipients of direct mail solicitations from Wisconsin contingency fee practitioners, and a survey of Wisconsin residents about whether they had predilections concerning which lawyer or law firm they would use should they have an injury claim. The analyses show that most lawyers draw the vast majority of their cases from a combination of referrals from prior clients, referrals from other lawyers (mostly uncompensated referrals), and repeat clients. Relatively few clients come through media advertising or direct mail solicitation, even for most of those lawyers who aggressively employ media and direct mail. The key factor for obtaining clients is the lawyer's (or firm's) reputation. The need to maintain a reputation that will bring in clients serves to limit the ability of contingency fee lawyers to pursue courses of action that run counter to their clients' interests.

JEL Classification: K13, L14, L84

Suggested Citation

Kritzer, Herbert M. and Krishnan, Jayanth K., Lawyers Seeking Clients, Clients Seeking Lawyers: Sources of Contingency Fee Cases and Their Implications for Case Handling (August 1997). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=110529

Herbert M. Kritzer (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Jayanth K. Krishnan

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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