Blawgletter's tag-line says "Contingent business law".

Look at the words just below the big Blawgletter® thingy at the top of this page.  See?

We recalled that this evening when a Google Alert tipped us off to a new 10-K report.  This one disclosed how much the reporting company paid contingent fee lawyers in 2009 v. 2008.  It said:

Total outside legal expenses paid to third-party contingent fee attorneys for the year ended December 31, 2009 were 42.3% of legal cash collections generated by contingent fee attorneys compared to 39.4% for the year ended December 31, 2008.

Portfolio Recovery Assocs., Inc., Form 10-K, Item 7 (Feb. 16, 2010).

Have we learned anything?  Something, yes.  We can tell that the all-in cost of collecting receivables through contingent fee lawyers runs about 40 percent of the recovery for PRA.  We don't know though if the 40 percent included reimbursement of expenses or whether the company instead paid the expenses separately from the contingent fees.

Who fronts the expenses matters, of course.  If the client does, it reduces the lawyer's risk, both because he has to invest less and because it tends to make the client more sensible about how to handle a case. And so we prefer that arrangement.