Legal fee restrictions, moral hazard, and attorney profits
When attorney effort is unobservable and certain other simplifying assumptions (such as risk neutrality) hold, it is efficient for an attorney to purchase the rights to a client's legal claim. However, the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit this arrangement. We show that this ethical restriction, which is formally equivalent to requiring a minimum fixed fee of zero, can create economic rents for attorneys, even though they continue to compete along the contingent-fee dimension. The contingent fee is not bid down to the zero-profit level, because such a fee does not induce sufficient attorney effort. We thereby provide a political economy explanation for these restrictions.
|Date of creation:||1999|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||Published in Journal of Law and Economics, 44(2), Part I, October 2001|
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- Daniel F. Rubinfeld & Suzanne Scotchmer, 1993. "Contingent Fees for Attorneys: An Economic Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 343-356, Autumn.
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- Halpern, P. J. & Turnbull, S. M., 1983. "Legal fees contracts and alternative cost rules: An economic analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-26, June.
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