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Incentive Structures for Class Action Lawyers

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  • Alon Klement

Abstract

This article examines the way in which an attorney fee structure that maximizes the expected recovery for class members in a class action may be implemented in practice. Using a mechanism design approach, we demonstrate that if the court can observe the lawyer's effort, then the optimal payoff to the class may be realized using the lodestar method--a contingent hourly fee arrangement that is currently practiced in many class actions--but only if the hourly contingent fee is multiplied by a declining , as opposed to the practiced constant , multiplier. If the court cannot observe the lawyer's effort, then in some circumstances the optimal payoff to the class may still be realized by offering the lawyer a menu of fee schedules from which she has to choose one. Each fee schedule consists of a fixed percentage and a threshold amount below which the lawyer earns no fee, with the threshold increasing with the chosen percentage. The lawyer is paid the fixed percentage chosen only for amounts won above the threshold. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Alon Klement, 2004. "Incentive Structures for Class Action Lawyers," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 102-124, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:20:y:2004:i:1:p:102-124
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    Cited by:

    1. Chopard, Bertrand & Cortade, Thomas & Langlais, Eric, 2010. "Trial and settlement negotiations between asymmetrically skilled parties," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 18-27, March.
    2. Emons, Winand & Fluet, Claude, 2016. "Why plaintiffs’ attorneys use contingent and defense attorneys fixed fee contracts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 16-23.
    3. Winand Emons & Nuno Garoupa, 2004. "The Economics of US-style Contingent Fees and UK-style Conditional Fees," Diskussionsschriften dp0407, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    4. Bruno Deffains & Eric Langlais, 2011. "Informational externalities and settlements in mass tort litigations," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 241-262, October.
    5. Ingo Vogelsang & Nishal Ramphal & Stephen Carroll & Nicholas Pace, 2007. "An economic analysis of consumer class actions in regulated industries," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 87-104, August.
    6. Chopard, Bertrand & Cortade, Thomas & Langlais, Eric, 2010. "Trial and settlement negotiations between asymmetrically skilled parties," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 18-27, March.
    7. Winand Emons, 2007. "Conditional versus contingent fees," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 89-101, January.
    8. Donatella Porrini & Giovanni B. Ramello, 2011. "Class action and financial markets: insights from law and economics," Journal of Financial Economic Policy, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 3(2), pages 140-160, May.
    9. Deffains, Bruno & Langlais, Eric, 2007. "Informational externalities and informational sharing in class action suits," MPRA Paper 4846, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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