FINDING THE BEST ATTORNEYS WILLING TO HOLD THEIR SUIT FEE CONTINGENT UPON COLLECTION
Williams & Williams, Inc. is proud to state that we believe we have the best Commercial Collection Attorney Network in the world. The following explanation provides insight to our clients as to how we filter out poor attorney candidates and bring on board to our Network the very best commercial litigators possible.
One requirement is that any attorney we utilize must be bonded. It is common that attorneys specializing in Commercial Collection and Creditors’ Rights are members of the Commercial Law League of America. We personally interview prospective attorney candidates for our program to insure our criteria and standards can be met.
When conducting interviews upon learning that an attorney simply writes a letter and submits suit requirements – those “types” never make it into our program. On the other hand, when we hear that immediate steps are taken to determine if a debtor company is both viable and in business then we proceed to the next round of questioning. We then try to determine if the attorney establishes immediate contact and then, in conjunction with other activities, attempts to verify whether or not the corporation is in good standing, licenses are up-to-date and if the debtor operation gives the appearance of functioning normally. When we learn that an attorney firm uses existing information to build upon new collection angles and techniques, then the process continues with this candidate.
We align ourselves with attorneys who do not rely upon non-contingent Suit Fees for a primary source of income. When an attorney agrees to handle a case on a contingency basis, it is customary, when suit is filed, that the commercial collection attorney be compensated with a standard 10% Suit Fee. How the Suit Fee is handled determines if the prospect remains in contention for our program.
Williams & Williams, Inc. does not participate in the 10% Suit Fee. This fee is considered attorney compensation for preparing the lawsuit, agreeing to appear at hearings, answering motions, filing motions, conducting discoveries, requesting admissions, producing documents, issuing interrogatories, making sure that papers are served properly and insuring that all other necessary steps are taken to reach the Summary Judgment phase of the lawsuit. Because of the quality of the placements that originate through our clients, we have been successful in certain areas of the United States to prevail upon attorneys to dispense with the non-contingent Suit Fee of 10%, eliminate “trial fees” and hold the entire Suit Fee completely contingent upon collection. When the entire Suit Fee is held contingent, the Suit Fee will be deducted along with commissions only if there is a recovery; in this example our clients’ “out-of-pocket” exposure is limited to court costs alone. This is always one of our primary objectives.
If we are in a locale where an attorney requests the 10% non-contingent Suit Fee up front, we will negotiate to lower the Suit Fee. Sometimes we achieve a non-contingent Suit Fee of 5% with the rest of the Suit Fee (5%) held contingent upon collection. On large dollar placements, we always specify a non-contingent Suit Fee “cap.” We believe attorneys should earn their Suit Fees; therefore, we try to prevail upon every attorney to hold some, if not all, of the 10% Suit Fee contingent upon collection. Feedback from our clients confirms that the 10% Suit Fee is tolerable when deducted from proceeds (contingent), as opposed to an “out-of-pocket” (non-contingent) outlay. In a situation where part of the suit fee is non-contingent and the rest contingent upon collection, we always make sure that sufficient recoveries have been made to cover the non-contingent Suit Fee before the contingent suit fee portion is deducted out.
Consider that suit is filed for $2,000.00. The Commercial Collection attorney is entitled to a 10% Suit Fee ($200.00) of which all, part or none can be non-contingent. If 5% is requested as non-contingent ($100.00) then the remaining Suit Fee is 5% ($100.00) and is held back contingent upon recovery. We monitor your placement to make sure that the attorney recovers $1,000.00 (threshold amount) before contingent Suit Fees are deducted from additional recoveries. The first dollar over the first $1,000.00 collected is subject to the remaining contingent 5% Suit Fee. Conclusion from this example – your total “out-of-pocket” exposure is $100.00 (non-contingent Suit Fee) plus court costs. If the attorney collects nothing, you do not pay any portion of the contingent Suit Fee.
As we continue the Attorney Network screening process, we try to determine what techniques the attorney candidate utilizes in the post-judgment remedy phase. We also make sure that the commercial collection attorney does not have a problem in providing us with a copy of all filings. You would be surprised how many attorneys make mistakes – but of course not the ones that are in the Williams & Williams, Inc. network!
If we think that we have a prospective attorney candidate that may qualify for our program, we will continue to ask even more specific questions, i.e. as to whether or not the attorney makes it a practice of examining the debtor’s tax records, corporate records, balance sheets and operating statements, bank attachment procedures and the like.
Finally, we always want to make sure that the judgment, if not fully collected, is recorded as a “judgment lien,” which clouds the title of all real property held that may be in a debtor’s name either jointly or severally. Three or four times a year, we are approached about releasing a piece of property that a prospective buyer might be interested in, based on a “judgment lien” recorded years ago.
If an attorney survives our grueling gauntlet of questions and provides answers consistent with our standards, we then have a “qualified candidate” for our network. Rest assured that each and every attorney in the Williams & Williams, Inc. network is constantly monitored. If it is determined that an attorney is operating below Williams & Williams, Inc. standards, he or she is replaced. Our Forwarding Service entails an ongoing evaluation process that never ends. The bottom line is that if a commercial collection attorney wants to see another claim from the Forwarding Division of Williams & Williams, Inc., our high standards must be achieved on every referral.
Some of our clients may not be crystal clear about some of the subject matter covered in this communication. If more specific information is needed or you would like to have other questions answered, please contact us.