How to get started with a class action lawsuit? Will lawyers take the case unpaid – that is until a verdict or setttlement? Or will they bill hourly?

Several people I know have been affected by an issue that (I believe) deserves to be considered for a class action lawsuit. Damages go into the tens of thousands at a minimum – simply totaling the reimbursements they're clearly owed. However, nobody involved has much experience dealing with law firms; and because they've (allegedly) been victimized, they're mostly strapped for cash. This is a motley group; so coordinating their actions is difficult. Right now, a couple of us – who are friendly to those affected but not victims ourselves – are attempting to put them in touch with legal representation. How do we find the right sort of attorney for a class action lawsuit? Will attorneys of this kind bill hourly, or will they take the case unpaid – as personal injury lawyers often advertise they'll do – in exchange for a percentage of some future payout? Any advice from people with experience in this area – lawyers or not – would be appreciated. I realize that legal advice can't be given in this fashion, but guidance about what to expect and suggestions for how to proceed would help a lost bunch of folks get their bearings.


First, you should look for lawyers who specialize in class action lawsuits. To find such lawyers, you can google, or contact the Bar Association in your state.

You mentioned the victims are low on cash. Yes, lawyers will work for a future payment, but you have to find such lawyers, and ask if they are willing to accept such a payment agreement.

This type of payment agreement is called a contingency fee. This means the lawyer is paid a percentage of the client's monetary award, or a settlement the client comes to with the other party. If the client doesn't win, the lawyer gets nothing. So, basically, the lawyer's pay is contingent upon the client winning the case.

I hope everything works out!

Answered 9 years ago


I am a lawyer and worked on multiple class action suits.

Here is a simple and short answer. You (or someone from the group) has to actually consult with a lawyer at a law firm(s) that handles class action suits. A simple Google search will let you know which firms handles those types of cases in your state (or just watch the class action suit commercials and give those firms a call).

Depending on how big the "class", class action suits take years to research and settle, costing millions of dollars in lawyer fees. The firm does not charge the clients for the legal fees, they take a percentage of the settlement.

I hope this helps.

Answered 9 years ago

I can't tell from your questions which jurisdiction your case belongs to. I am based in Ontario, Canada where you will indeed find firms that will work on a contingency fee model. Class action lawsuits are increasingly funded by third parties as well, who will bear the risk and receive a percentage upon success. In Ontario, you can even apply for funding from Law Foundation of Ontario. I encourage you to talk to a few firms in your area. I am sure you will find a workable model with a law firm as long as the case has reasonable chances of success.

Answered 9 years ago

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