The optimality of contingent fees in the agency problem of litigation
Linear contracts are of particular interest to economists. They have a simple structure, yet they are very popular in practice. In this regard, plaintiff-lawyer contractual relationships are of particular interest. Lawyers' fees are mostly paid by a sharing rule and they are typically a fixed proportion of the recovery across all lawsuits of the same type and this fixed proportion typically stays constant for many years. Such a simple and stable form of contract is puzzling to contract theorists. This paper presents a simple agency model with a risk-averse principal and a risk-neutral agent. We show that the observed puzzling features of contracts in litigation are in fact optimal behaviors, if a lawyer's effort has a constant marginal cost.
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- G. Hanoch & H. Levy, 1969. "The Efficiency Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 335-346.
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- Kim, Son Ku & Wang, Susheng, 1998. "Linear Contracts and the Double Moral-Hazard," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 342-378, October.
- Joseph M. Fisher, 1988. "Contingent And Noncontingent Attorneys' Fees In Personal Injury Cases," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 6(3), pages 108-121, 07.
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