As Donald Trump settled the lawsuits against Trump University, it’s being reported that lawyers on the class action cases would not seek their attorneys fees from the settlement, though they’d recover their costs. That means that the $25 million settlement for the plaintiffs is — in real dollars — actually close to what they’d been asking for, which was $40 million. The typical contingency fee most big law firms charge in cases like this is 33%.
A contingency means the lawyers only get paid when the case is won or settled, and they collect a percentage of the settlement rather than a set amount. The arrangement allows plaintiffs without deep pockets to pursue justice with the attorneys incentivized by a positive outcome. A 33% contingency would have knocked a $40 million settlement down to about $26.4 million after fees.