Legal matters are a messy headache most would rather not deal with. Thank heavens for attorneys. They swoop in with their freshly pressed suits, briefcases, and legal strategies that leave the layman more confused than ever. It’s a lot of work with hours spent going through huge stacks of paperwork, studying old related cases, interviewing people involved, and scheming strategies to make sure their clients get the best end of the deal possible. It’s no wonder lawyers demand a rather hefty sum.
If you’ve found yourself requiring the services of a lawyer, once upon a time, you might’ve heard of the term “retainer fee.” This is an advance payment a client makes—a down payment, if you will—to confirm their commitment on availing of the attorney’s services. The details of a lawyer’s retainer fees would be in a written contract signed by and agreed on by both parties. Here are some sample agreements on what these contracts would usually look like.
Attorney Retainer Agreement
Legal Retainer Agreement Sample
General Retainer Agreement
The contents of a retainer fee agreement may not be too different from those of a free reseller agreement or a marketing consulting agreement. Although frequently associated with lawyers, they are not the only ones who ask for a retainer fee. Other professionals like freelancers, realtors, and writers also demand for a certain amount upfront to lock in their services.
Types of Retainer Fees
Commonly, retainers are put in a separate trust account and the lawyer has no access to them until the terms of the agreement has been met. This is to ensure that they are not used for the lawyer’s personal spending. There are two types of retainer fees:
- Earned retainer fees are the amount that rightfully belongs to the lawyer and may be moved to their personal funds. This may be taken from the retainer account based on the number of hours a lawyer has worked or the tasks completed.
- Unearned retainer fees are money that does not yet belong to the lawyer until they have earned it. Depending on the agreemennt between lawyer and client, unused fund in the retainer account may be refunded.
Contents of the Agreement
To avoid disputes between the attorney and client, a retainer fee agreement must be clear, concise, and well-written. It should mention
- exactly how much the retainer fee is;
- if there are any additional charges such as the lawyer’s hourly rate;
- whether expenses other than the attorney’s fees like photocopying and printing costs are deductible from the retainer account;
- when the lawyer could gain access to the money and how much of it (eg., 25% of the fee after pre-trial); and
- agree ahead and mention how much is refundable, if ever.
Paralegal Retainer Agreement
Real Estate Retainer Agreement
Retainer Fee Agreement Example
Blank Retainer Agreement
Sample Retainer Agreement
Retainer Service Agreement
When drafting and signing contracts, it is important to be very attentive. Be cautious with the wordings, how the sentences were constructed, and make sure that there is no way the statements could be twisted around against your favor. Acquaint yourself with how these written agreements should look like by checking out our business development agreements and other sample agreements.
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