What is a monthly retainer fee?

Asked by: Miss Rosemary Pfeffer DVM  |  Last update: August 19, 2023
Score: 4.5/5 (40 votes)

A retainer fee is when you bill your client every month.
You bill them for hours worked (Pay for Work retainer) or for access to your expertise (Pay for Access retainer). Consulting retainers are favorable because they help you earn predictable recurring cash flow.

What is the meaning of monthly retainer fee?

Understanding Retainer Fees

A retainer fee is an advance payment a client makes to a professional, and it is considered a down payment on the future services rendered by that professional. Regardless of occupation, the retainer fee funds the initial expenses of the working relationship.

Is a retainer a fee or 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.

How often is a retainer paid?

The earned retainer fee is paid every month until the case is closed. Sometimes, the lawyer may be paid according to the milestones he has completed, for example, 25% after the pre-trial process, 60% after the hearing, and 100% when the case is determined and closed.

How do you calculate monthly retainer fees?

Multiply each team member's hourly cost by the number of hours they'll spend each week, month, or quarter on the retainer work. This gives you your Team Cost. Note that this won't just be the salary or hourly wage but the full cost of each employee, including any employment taxes, fees, benefits, etc. Desired Margin.

Pricing Retainer Fees Without Knowing the Scope

35 related questions found

What is an example of a retainer fee?

Examples of retainer fees

If this lawyer charges you $100 per hour, the retainer fee covers her services for three hours. If they require more than three hours to complete their services for you, they'll then charge you an additional cost per hour that they worked on your behalf.

How do I get my retainer fee back?

Requesting a Refund

If you believe you are entitled to a refund of your retainer, you should contact the attorney and request a refund. This should be done in writing, either via email or letter.

Why do people get a retainer fee?

A retainer fee agreement ensures consultants receive payment for the hours the person expects the project to take. Clients can save money by not paying the consultant's insurance and benefits. Many clients and consultants build a trusting working relationship based on general retainers.

Why do lawyers ask for a retainer?

For attorneys, retainer fees help ensure that a client's funds are enough to pay for the costs associated with the case, from the hours spent to the money needed to: File paperwork. Collect documents. Make information requests.

What are the benefits of a retainer fee?

For freelance professionals or contractors, it's clear to see the benefits of retainer agreements. It improves cash flow by guaranteeing a regular, reliable stream of recurring income. It gives freelancers a clear view of their workload for the upcoming month, making it easier to schedule additional projects.

How much is most retainer fees?

It may be as low as $500 or as high as $5,000 or more. Some attorneys base retainer fees on their hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours that they anticipate your case will take. Once your attorney begins work on your case, he or she subtracts the time that he or she put into the case from your retainer.

What are the four types of retainer fees?

California attorneys have a variety of options to choose from when negotiating fee arrangements and retainers with their clients. There are generally four types of fees that may be charged—hourly fees, fixed or flat fees, true retainers, and contingent fees.

Is a retainer fee income?

A retainer fee or retainer balance is money that your client pays upfront for services that you will perform later on. Retainer balances but be reported as income in certain scenarios.

How do retainers work?

How Do They Work? A retainer is a metal or plastic instrument that keeps your teeth aligned. Once you have your braces removed, your orthodontist will make a mold of your teeth and create the retainer based on the new position of your teeth. Wearing the retainer habitually will keep your teeth from moving.

Can I negotiate retainer fee?

Be flexible. Be prepared to negotiate the terms of the retainer agreement. If the client is resistant to agreeing to a retainer, try offering a lower fee in exchange for a longer contract term. Or, propose a trial period to start off the relationship.

Who needs a retainer?

When braces are removed, all patients need a retainer no matter what their age. However, age can play a part in the time you need to use a retainer. If a patient has braces as an adult, they are at greater risk of their teeth moving than if they have braces as a child or adolescent.

What should I look for in a retainer agreement?

Ensure that the contract contains clear language; The retainer should list all the legal services that the lawyer will provide; Ask the attorney to specifically outline their fees; Never sign a fee agreement that favors the attorney's interests over your own; and.

How much should I ask as a retainer fee?

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.

What is the meaning of retainership?

Definition of 'retainership'

1. the property of retaining or retainment. adjective. 2. (of contracts, services, etc) having the property of retaining or retainment.

Can I cancel my retainer?


In most cases disengagement will occur when the retainer is completed. The client has the right to terminate the retainer at any time - the lawyer does not.

Are retainers always 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 is a fixed fee retainer?

In such matters, instead of hourly billing for professional services, we can offer a fixed, or “flat,” fee to cover all services and costs in the retainer agreement. This fee is paid, in part or in full, upon signing the retainer agreement.

Is a retainer fee taxable?

The IRS considers retainer fees taxable income. You must report the total annual retainer fees received from each client on an IRS 1099-MISC form when you file your income tax return for that year.

Do you send a 1099 for a retainer?

In general, payments for personal services of at least $600 require 1099-MISC. Common examples include: YES – Services, retainers, honorariums and similar. YES – Attorney fees of any kind.

How do you bill a retainer?

Detailed description of billed services: Clearly outline the specific services that have been or will be provided during the retainer period. Amount owed: Include the total amount owed for the current retainer period, any applicable taxes and also include any unpaid balances from past invoices.