As the media does its best to read the tea leaves regarding when or if a new CBA is coming, here’s one that arguably has more meaning than any others.
Jim Trotter of SI.com reports that the NFLPA* has renegotiated its contracts with outside counsel, and that the term “flat fee” is part of the deal.
This development strongly implies that guys like Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn weren’t previously being paid by the hour in the Tom Brady lawsuit, but pursuant to a contingency fee arrangement, which would have given them a piece of the eventual verdict. Given that such a judgment after a lost season of football and the antitrust trebling effect could have exceeded $12 billion, the lawyers could have gotten $4 billion or more, subject to court approval.
By converting to a “flat fee,” the lawyers will get a sum certain, regardless of outcome or the amount of time spent on the matter.
That said, there’s also a chance that the adjustment has been made solely in order to reduce the heat on the lawyers, who are perceived to be an impediment to getting a deal done. By changing their compensation to a flat fee, it becomes harder to claim that they are trying to milk as many billable hours as possible out of the cash cow, or that they’re holding out for their 33.333333 percent of a gargantuan verdict.
Our flat fee is on the former. There’s no way that the lawyers would agree to a fixed sum for handling the balance of a lawsuit that could drag on, in theory, for years absent some certainty as to how much more time they’ll need to devote to the process.