Attorneys for the maritime worker
since 1970

June 2016

Selecting An Attorney PDF

It is not unusual for our office to receive calls or emails from maritime workers who are represented by other attorneys asking if we can take over their case. While there may be a variety of reasons for this, a not uncommon one is that they have settled their case and are disappointed with the result. Unfortunately at that point it is most often too late for us to be able to help them. Below are some things to keep in mind if you are considering hiring an attorney:

  1. Make sure you pick one that has extensive maritime law experience.
  2. Ask what they charge. Most attorneys charge a contingency fee, which means that they get paid a percentage of what you recover from the shipowner. However, these percentages can vary from 33%45% and even higher in some cases. Some attorneys increase their percentage if the case proceeds to trial or mediation.
  3. Ask how the costs of the lawsuit advanced by the attorneys are repaid. Most attorneys will pay the costs of your lawsuit while it is ongoing and then recover their money when your case is resolved by settlement or trial. A difference between attorneys is that some will deduct these costs from your settlement first, and then take their percentage from this lower amount. Others will take their percentage first, and then deduct their costs. When an attorney takes their percentage first, it results in less money in your pocket because they are taking a percentage of a larger number.
  4. Find out if they are in good standing with the State Bar Association. In California, the State Bar puts this information on their website. Go to and enter the attorney’s name in the search bar. The attorney’s State Bar profile will appear. At the bottom of the page is their disciplinary record. Be wary of hiring an attorney who is in trouble with the State Bar.

Question From The Bridge

Mr. Cavin,
I suffered a shipboard injury and need to hire a lawyer. What do you charge and do you advance costs? I don’t have any money for costs or fees.
Thanks, Jim S. Richmond, CA

Thank you for contacting me. We charge a contingency fee of 33 1/3%, sometimes less if the case is resolved quickly without suit being filed. We advance costs so you do not have to pay these costs until the case is resolved. We deduct the costs from your recovery first, and then take our percentage from that lower number. This is one of the lowest fee arrangements in the maritime industry. We do not charge 40% if the case goes to mediation or trial, as so few cases proceed to trial. We are able to do this because we keep our overhead costs low and because we are confident that we will get you the top dollar for your case.

Temporary Address Change

We have relocated to San Francisco while our new Oakland space undergoes renovation from fire damage. We have offices on both sides of the Bay to serve you! Look for our Oakland opening sometime in late spring. In the meantime, please contact us at

The Law Offices of Cavin and Marks, Jr.
535 Pacific Avenue, Suite 100
San Francisco, CA 94133

Our phone and fax remain the same
Ph: 510-291-4743

About Our Law Firm

For more than four decades, merchant mariners, longshoremen, fishermen and harbor workers plying their trades at sea, on the docks, on our U.S. coastal waters and inland waterways have turned to the maritime law firm of Law Offices of Cavin and Marks, Jr. & Associates in Oakland. Today, we are proud to be recognized as one of the preeminent maritime law firms serving injured marine workers nationwide, as well as one of the most successful personal injury litigation firms serving victims of negligence in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the West Coast.

Team Approach To Every Personal Injury And Jones Act Claim

When you retain Law Offices of Cavin and Marks, Jr. & Associates for a Jones Act injury claim; or personal injury claim, you don’t get just one attorney, you get our entire team of dedicated professionals. Our attorneys offer more than 150 combined years of courtroom and negotiated claims settlement experience. We will represent your interests with unwavering dedication, speed and expertise.