Allocating Settlement Authority Under a Contingent-Fee Arrangement

24 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2001

See all articles by Albert H. Choi

Albert H. Choi

University of Michigan Law School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 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.

Keywords: litigation, contingent fee, delegation

JEL Classification: K12, K13, K41

Suggested Citation

Choi, Albert H., Allocating Settlement Authority Under a Contingent-Fee Arrangement (May 16, 2003). Available at SSRN: or

Albert H. Choi (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States


European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels


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