As an attorney myself, I feel the need to address some misconceptions.
1. This was not a class action, it was simply two individual cases.
2. The article is woefully sparse on details regarding the settlement. I do not practice in Pennsylvania, but I can assure you that the Rules of Professional Conduct in that state do not allow attorneys to take a nearly 70% fee. Most states will only allow a maximum fee of 35% or so. In a contingency fee practice, the client is always responsible for his or her own costs, unless the client fee agreement specifically states otherwise. Under the agreement, these costs are advanced by the attorney, but the client is ultimately responsible for repayment. In this case, it seems unlikely that the attorney could have accumulated $350k in costs, but regardless, any money above that 35% (more likely 33%) ceiling is going to repay money the attorney already spent out of his or her own pocket. These costs do not include the attorney's salary, her staff's salary, office rent, etc, they only include direct costs related to the case, such as legal research fees, travel expenses, filing fees, and expert fees.
3. An attorney DOES have repercussions if she issues casual advice to a potential client. The attorney/client relationship begins before any agreement is signed between the parties. Details, even from an initial meeting and even if the attorney is not ultimately hired to represent the client, are protected by attorney/client privilege and the attorney can land herself in hot water if she breaches this privilege.
Something to remember here is that an individual can always represent him or herself in court, so long as the individual is competent. That being said, hiring an experienced attorney will inevitably lead to a better outcome, very likely offsetting any costs. Unfortunately, our legal system is far too complex to navigate effectively without years of education and experience.