What on earth is Lawyers On Retainer

Lawyer Retainer Fees

A retainer fee is a form of pre-payment which is usually based on the lawyer’s hourly rate. This advanced fee ensures that the lawyer will provide certain legal services on behalf of the client. Think of it as a down payment on the services the lawyer provides. This money, most often not refundable for any reason, is put in a trust account and the attorney or the law firm can access it when expenses having to do with the legal services the client have requested come up. Then the client has to pay the additional amount if the retainer hasn’t provided enough money.

A retainer fees is also used to pay for services when you want to have a lawyer on call to take care of your legal problems upon request or if you need legal counsel on a regular basis. In many cases, this fee is paid on a monthly schedule. In other words, by paying the monthly fee you have access to a lawyer whenever you need legal guidance or assistance.

Before accepting to pay a retainer fee, get the fee, terms and conditions in writing. In some instances, it could be too high and a court can have it reduced. However, in the case of Bankruptcy and other statutory fee is also taken care by the court.

There is a service plan called “Pre-Paid Legal” that offers a retainer type service at a very affordable fee. In fact, prices may range from about $16 per month to about $70. In any event, this is far below the typical hourly rate of a good lawyer and members of this legal service plan can receive unlimited phone consultation with a lawyer. You can have contracts reviewed, letters written, and more.

If at the start of the representation the retainer agreement describes the fee as an advance payment against future billings, the money should be placed in a trust account and belongs to the client until the billing transpires. When the fee is earned, the lawyer sends the client a notice and the funds can be withdrawn from the account. If the retainer fee agreement notes the funds are nonrefundable or as earned upon receipt, the funds do not have to be placed in a trust account. It belongs to the lawyer.

You should also be suspicious if the retainer seems very low. It is likely that the lawyer is simply quoting you a very low retainer in order to get your business and has little or no intention of staying within it.

Lawyer retainer fees are usually based on circumstances at that given time, and prices may vary if anything changes. The lawyer will be able to explain what to expect if your case changes. The lawyer should have the ability to suggest what has to be expected. For instance, you will have to pay court costs in order to file a case if your case is filed with the court. You may also be expected to pay the costs for depositions, expert witnesses, long distance telephone charges made by your lawyer on your case, copying charges, courier and postal services, etc.

Be careful agreeing to hire a lawyer whose retainer fee seems very low. It might be a technique to get business for you, just to add the real hidden costs later on.

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