I handle a lot of cases on a contingency fee basis.  As you probably know, this means that my client pays me no fee up front.  When the case is over, if we win, my fee is a percentage (usually one-third) of the recovery.  There are pros and cons to this system.  It allows people to seek justice when they have a good case, even if they have no funds to pay the legal fees to pursue the case.  That is good.  But, it also gives people an incentive to move forward with any case as long as a lawyer is willing to handle the case.  That is bad. We need some sort of a check against someone who will bring any case, no matter how poor the case is.  

When a lawyer handles a case that lawyer knows that if they lose the case they will get nothing.  Also, if the case is a poor case then the lawyer will spend a great deal of time and energency for little or no hope of recovery or payment for their work.  The contingency fee system creates a built in check against frivolouse lawsuits.  The lawyer must evaluate the case, and has an incentive to take on only those good cases.  This is good for the system in general.  

But employement law cases are hard to evaluate up front because most of the facts won't be learned until after you are well into the case.  That is why for my employment law cases, I rarely take those cases on a pure contingency fee basis.  Although, I do use contingency fees for employment law cases, I also require my clients to pay at least some money up front so they "have a horse in the race" too.  This helps to weed out those potential or frivolous claims.   

If no lawyer in involved in the case, however, there is no check against frivolous lawsuits.  Lawyers are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct not to bring frivolous cases.  But pro se litigants--people handling their case one their own, without a lawyer are not so constrained. 

There is a problem with our civil justice system right now in Connecticut.  The judges of the Superior Court routinely grant fee waivers to pro see litigants who cannot afford to pay the $300 filing fee to bring a civil case.  They do so without regard to whether the case itself has merit.  As a result many frivolous lawsuit are being brought by pro se litigatns (those with no lawyer).  These frivolous lawsuits do great harm to the defendant who is forced to defense the case.  They also do harm to the civil justice system because they forser the public perception that the system can be abused by those who chose to do so.  It goes without saying that the resources of the Court are being taxed by some frivolous lawsuits brought by pro se litigants.  

It is time for some common sense reform to help reduce fee waivers in civil cases. One option being proposed is that in lieu of the fee waiver the pro se litigant must perform some community service.  It is time for reform.  

If you or anyone you know has a question about fee waivers in Connecticut then contact The Bartinik Law Firm, PC in Groton, Connecticut at 860 445 8521 or toll fee at 888 717 4211https://www.grotonlaw.com/contact.cfm

Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut
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