The late, great U of A Law Prof Len Pollock QC used to warn future lawyers in his Civil Pro class that “the client is the enemy.” Usually, this is not so, but we were reminded of Professor Pollock’s words earlier this month when an ungrateful client, after retaining us at our standard percentage fee (33% of case resolution proceeds or 38% if a lawsuit is filed) and sitting back while our lawyers worked for over two and a half years to successfully secure for him injury claim compensation at a figure more than 100 times higher than the paltry offer the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster had made before he hired our firm, promptly banked his net settlement proceeds but then challenged our bill at the review office in the Court of King’s Bench. The review officer rightly upheld our fee, as per the legally binding contingency agreement signed by the dishonourable client.
A national study released last month found that Canadian legal professionals suffer alarmingly high levels of stress, undoubtedly exacerbated when unscrupulous clients try to weasel out of agreed-upon legal fees after their cases have concluded. As the Alberta Court of Appeal has eloquently stated, “A client cannot without good reason be allowed to negotiate and sign an agreement, stand by and permit the solicitor to invest his or her time and money in the file, and then at the last minute refuse to pay the negotiated compensation. Whatever duties there are on a solicitor when entering into a retainer agreement with a client, those duties should not allow an ungrateful client to deprive the solicitor of legitimate compensation.” More recently, the Alberta Court of Appeal added, “A retainer contract binds. Only in some imaginary parallel universe did the client ever have a right to be billed on, or to adjust its legal bills later to, some different basis.” Thankfully, our experience is that ungrateful clients are rare exceptions to the rule. The overwhelming majority of the thousands of clients McCourt Law Offices has helped since 1995 appreciate that our firm has earned every penny of our legal fees, working hard for innocent Albertans hurt by negligent motorists to ensure that they are fully and fairly compensated for their injuries and other losses. Certainly, an injured claimant could just deal directly with the other side’s insurance company and keep 100% of the bodily injury adjuster’s lowball offer, but it doesn’t take a math whiz to compute that, for example, 100% of $6,000 is a significantly smaller sum than, say, 60% of $60,000. And it should go without saying that we don’t chase ambulances and force car crash victims to hire our law firm: our clients eagerly come to us, even though they could choose any other firm willing to take their case, because our highly trained and experienced injury lawyers have a reputation for results built on a tradition of trust. It’s no fluke that we at McCourt Law Offices were recognized this year by CommunityVotes Edmonton as the top Personal Injury Lawyers (and top Lawyers overall) in Alberta’s capital city. So if you’ve been injured by a reckless driver, feel free to give us a call, so that we can schedule an appointment for you to come to our office with a copy of the police report, your photo ID (driver’s licence), Alberta Health Care card and proof of covid vaccination if you have it, any documentation you’ve received from your auto insurance adjuster and from the other side’s insurance company (if they’ve been in contact with you), the names of the caregivers (eg. hospital, doctor, physio clinic) you’ve seen for your accident injuries, photos (if any) you have of your injuries, the accident scene, vehicle damage, and/or the other driver’s documents, and any other information that is relevant to your case. If you retain us pursuant to our contingency agreement and we secure you cash compensation, of course we’ll take our fee -- and be assured, we’re well worth it!