What is a retainer?
- A retainer is an amount of money paid upfront and placed into your client trust account in order to secure our services as your attorney.
- A client trust account keeps the client’s funds separate from the lawyer’s funds. Once a lawyer earns the fees the funds in the client trust account are used to pay the bill.
- At the conclusion of a matter, any funds remaining in the client trust account are returned to the client.
- The amount of the retainer is based on the complexity of your situation and whether the matter can be negotiated, mediated, or will have to be litigated. (Remember, the amount of the retainer is not an estimate of the total cost of your case.)
- Bills are based on hourly rates and we track time in 6-minute increments which gives you a more exact accounting for time spent on your matter.
Why would I pay a retainer?
- It establishes the attorney-client relationship and reserves the time required to handle your case and provide you with thorough communication throughout.
- It keeps us on standby for things you might not be anticipating.
- Prevents parties with a conflicting interest from retaining our services. For instance, your spouse would not be able to retain our services in a divorce proceeding if you had already retained us.
- Attorneys that require a retainer fee have usually earned that ability through well-developed reputations and experience.
How do your clients pay the retainer amount?
- Many of our clients come prepared to pay their retainer by check or credit card. It is important to remember that you are allowed to use marital assets to pay for legal fees.
- Because of the variety of financial situations represented, it is common for clients to fund their legal fees by:
- Asking friends and family for help
- Opening a new credit card
- Drawing funds from a retirement account
- Liquidating a savings or brokerage account
- Taking out a home equity loan