In a class action for money damages, attorneys who represent the class are generally paid out of the money that is recovered, referred to as a common fund, for the people they are representing. In class actions involving declaratory judgments or injunctive relief, lawyers may be paid by the people who hired them, or in some cases, by the people or companies they are suing.
Attorneys’ fee awards are subject to court review and approval. Usually, if an award is made in a common fund case, it will be awarded as a percentage of the total money available for the class. A benchmark award generally accepted by the courts is approximately 25% of the total, depending on the specific facts of a case, although the award may be adjusted higher or lower.