Pursuit of Curbs and Transparency in Contingency Cases

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For more than a decade, state lawmakers have sought various ways to curb contingency fees for private attorneys who contract with the state, as well as make the costs more transparent. But none have passed. Among the proposals:

  • Require the attorney general to use competitive bidding for any contingency fee contract over $5,000.
  • Require attorneys to report to the state how many hours they worked on a case, their expenses and a breakdown of their hourly rate based on hours worked divided into fees recovered, less expenses.
  • Cap hourly rates for legal services at $1,000.
  • Mandate that attorneys keep detailed records of expenses, charges, receipts and invoices of their work and provide those to the attorney general, upon request.

Majority Floor Leader Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, who authored one of the record-keeping bills in 2016, said while he supports retaining the “tier-one attorneys” in the opioid lawsuit, there are concerns that current law is too opaque to protect against cronyism.