What does retainer mean in legal terms?

Asked by: Schuyler Hermann  |  Last update: January 10, 2023
Score: 4.4/5 (64 votes)

Definition. A fee that the client pays upfront to an attorney before the attorney has begun work for the client.

What is the purpose of a legal retainer?

A legal retainer is an amount of money that is given to the attorney in advance of their work for you. It is called a retainer because the money remains your property until the attorney has earned the payment, and allows you to 'retain' their services.

What is a retainer and how does it work?

A retainer is the client's way of guaranteeing to the lawyer that the client is financially able to employ the lawyer's services and is committed to funding the matter. The retainer still belongs to the client until it is earned by the attorney or used for legitimate expenses, and must be returned if unused.

Is a retainer fee refundable?

Most frequently, the client agrees to a security or an advanced payment retainer where payment for services is drawn from the monies held in trust. Here's the kicker—only the true retainer is non-refundable. Unearned funds from either a security or advanced payment retainer must be refunded at the end of the work.

What does it mean to pay someone a retainer?

Being on retainer means that you're “on-call” for a specified number of hours each week or month. The client agrees to pay you for these hours, whether he gives you work or not. Usually, service providers offer clients a reduced hourly rate for the security offered by being on retainer.

Retainer Agreement for Attorneys & Lawyers - EXPLAINED

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How do retainer agreements work?

A retainer agreement is a contract wherein a client pays another professional in advance for work to be specified at a later point in time. In exchange, that professional agrees to make himself available to that client for a certain number of hours within a predetermined timeframe.

Is a retainer the same as a deposit?

In a definitive sense, a retainer is a fee that is paid in advance in order to hold services (ie. a wedding or event date). While a deposit may also reserve a date, it is returned when the services have been completed. A retainer is by default non-refundable and is not returned.

Is it good to have a lawyer on retainer?

If you are a business person, it makes sense to have a lawyer on retainer. Retaining a business attorney from the very start can save valuable time, energy and money in order to help avoid litigation. Retaining an attorney from the beginning can help you focus on your business and not on legal questions.

How long is a lawyer retainer good for?

A lawyer cannot claim the retainer fee until they have completed work and provided an invoice to the client. The retainer is still the possession of the client until used for legitimate expenses as detailed in the retainer agreement. The amount in the trust account will not expire.

Is a retainer a contract?

A retainer agreement is a long-term work-for-hire contract between a company and a client that retains ongoing services from you (as a consulting business) and provides you with a stable amount of payments.

What does a retainer include?

Most lawyers require a retainer agreement, which is also known as a “work for hire” contract. This document typically includes the type of work the attorney is doing for the client, all associated fees, and the general rights of both parties entering into the agreement.

What should be included in a retainer agreement?

Retainer agreements should:
  1. Always be in writing. ...
  2. Contain a statement that the firm has conducted a search for conflicts of interest and either (1) there are no conflicts, or (2) appropriate parties, including the client, have been advised of potential conflicts and waived them. ...
  3. Define the scope of the engagement.

What is the difference between a retainer and a contingency fee?

A contingent fee agreement is a legal agreement that allows you to hire a lawyer for your case without having to pay any out-of-pocket upfront fees unlike a retainer fee. The lawyer getting payment is contingent on you winning your case. If you do not win your case, you don't have to pay your contingency lawyer.

What does it mean when a lawyer asks for a retainer?

A fee that the client pays upfront to an attorney before the attorney has begun work for the client.

Is a retainer fee paid upfront?

A retainer fee is an upfront fee paid by a client for the professional services of an advisor, consultant, lawyer, freelancer, etc. The fee is commonly associated with attorneys who are hired to provide legal services.

How do you negotiate a retainer?

Here are a few tips for winning a retainer contract and ensuring it works for both you and your client.
  1. Target your Most Important Clients. ...
  2. Position Yourself as Invaluable. ...
  3. Consider Dropping your Rate. ...
  4. Don't Skip the Proposal Part. ...
  5. Shoot for a Retainer that's Time-Bound. ...
  6. Be Clear About the Work you Do Under the Retainer.

How are retainer fees calculated?

Multiply your hourly rate, with tax included, by the number of hours required to get your retainer fee. Any other expenses should be added to this number, such as supplies or processing and legal fees.

Will a lawyer take a losing case?

If your case isn't winnable, no lawyer will want to waste your time, or the court's time, pursuing legal action. However, if you have a case where the facts and evidence are in question, but the damages you could recover are high, an attorney with extensive experience in cases like yours might take the case.

What's the difference between attorney and lawyer?

Attorney vs Lawyer: Comparing Definitions

Lawyers are people who have gone to law school and often may have taken and passed the bar exam. Attorney has French origins, and stems from a word meaning to act on the behalf of others. The term attorney is an abbreviated form of the formal title 'attorney at law'.

How does a monthly retainer work?

A monthly retainer fee is paid in advance by your clients to ensure that your services will be available to them for the period covered. Clients on a monthly retainer usually pay a recurring fee, and they usually work on long-term projects with different agencies, who are available at their beck and call.

What is a 50% retainer?

A retainer is generally between 20% and 50% of the total fee. There are advantages to charging a 50% retainer, even if some clients may initially object. A higher retainer increases the perceived value of your services. Charging a 50% retainer shows that you value your time.

Is a retainer fee taxable?

In short, a retainer is a liability that must either be repaid or earned. ... In other words – from a tax perspective – there's a good chance the law firm must pay taxes on the client retainer when they receive payment.

Why are retainer agreements important?

Lawyers and paralegals should consider using a retainer agreement or engagement letter for every matter. Confirming the essential terms of the engagement with the client in writing manages client expectations and reduces the risk of misunderstanding between you and your client.

What is a non refundable retainer?

A retainer is typically a non-refundable payment made as part of a session's booking confirmation (in addition to a signed contract, stating the terms of your agreement.) Your photographer asks for this in exchange for them reserving their services for your specific date—meaning they're 100% yours!

How much is a retainer replacement?

Replacement clear retainers, like an Invisalign or an Essix retainer, cost between $400-$800. The first retainer you get is usually included in the cost of your total orthodontic treatment. Permanent retainers cost between $150-$500 to place or replace.