What Does It Mean: Retaining a Lawyer or Lawyer on Retainer Mean?
You may have heard people say they have a lawyer on retainer, at least in movies. But what does it mean? Retaining a lawyer simply means you are paying a regular fee to establish an attorney-client relationship. Your lawyer on retainer is there if you need advice and they are ready to go if you need their legal services. When you hire a lawyer on retainer, you need to pay a retainer which is a regular fee. This will cover services up to the equivalent of that fee if you need legal help during that retainer period. If you need additional legal services, that will be paid on top.
When Is Retaining a Lawyer Beneficial?
Retaining a lawyer may not be beneficial for everyone. The decision comes down to the frequency with which you need legal help. Businesses often keep a lawyer on retainer, as do the wealthy who have complex estates. It may be beneficial to hire a lawyer on retainer if you are undertaking a lawsuit that could stretch on for a while. Some lawsuits may take months or years to resolve and your lawyer will have to do regular work, even if it is just filling out forms. Retaining a lawyer means that they can do the necessary work as soon as it hits their desk, rather than having to contact you to discuss payment each time.
How Much Does Retaining a Lawyer Cost?
Just like lawyers fees, the cost of retaining a lawyer can vary significantly. When you hire a lawyer on retainer, you will often be asked to pay a monthly fee, but your attorney will inform you of their payment terms. Retaining a lawyer can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000 or even more depending on the experience of the attorney and the type of law they practice. The lawyer may even factor in how much legal work they expect to do for you per month when calculating their retainer fee.
Does a Lawyer on Retainer Refund Fees For Unused Months?
It depends on the retainer agreement you have with the attorney. The retainer fee ensures you have an attorney client relationship with that attorney and they do not take on clients who would pose a conflict of interest for you or your business. However, some attorneys will refund any unused retainer fees.