Lawyer On Retainer
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Who Is A Lawyer On Retainer? Do You Need Them?

| November 6, 2023

“I think I am gonna have to call my lawyer.” “You will be hearing from my lawyer.”

None of us want legal troubles, but unfortunately, we might run into them anyhow. These are the times when we hear ourselves saying something like that.

So, when you hear a person say that they have a lawyer at their beck and call, that is a lawyer on retainer. In simple words, you are keeping a lawyer handy so that you may call on their services as and when situations require.

What Does It Mean To Have A Lawyer On Retainer?

If you are a client seeing a lawyer on retainer, you will have to set up an arrangement with the lawyer. You will pay them the decided amount on a regular basis, and in exchange, they will offer their services as and when you need legal help. The nature and extent of their services will be according to the agreement that you make with them beforehand. Basically, you are subscribing to their services for when you require them later on.

Is It Good To Have A Lawyer On Retainer?

Lawyer on retainer cost may vary on what you are hiring them for. If the nature of your legal troubles is complex, they will charge more. But having a lawyer on retainer can be quite useful if you can strike a good deal. For example, if you run a business that needs constant legal care. Let’s say you need a lawyer once a month, ideally to ensure legal compliance for your business. The legal work may be semi-recurring, but you do not have enough money to hire a lawyer full-time.

However, calling a lawyer each month costs you a sizeable fee. So, wouldn’t you like to come up with a system where they visit every month to review documents and ensure compliance? In turn, you will pay them an affordable fee for an extended period. They will provide representation as and when you need it.

What Are The Benefits?

Let’s find out the benefits of having a lawyer on retainer.

They can provide easy and prompt help. When an issue arises, they are here to help you.

  • Since the mode of payment is quite regular, it can keep you from making bulk payments each time you hire a lawyer.
  • Having a lawyer by your side helps you stay legally compliant. They will also ensure you stay away from legal problems.
  • When you have a retainer lawyer, they will prioritize your issues when they come up. Attention when you’re their client.
  • Lastly, having a lawyer by your side can be a source of legal support.  

Additionally, if your business is a big one or has a higher net worth, the legal duties will be many. Thus, a lawyer on retainer is especially apt for you.

Things You Should Know Before Hiring A Retainer Lawyer

Having a lawyer on retainer can sure seem very appealing. However, you should think if you truly need one. For this, you need to carry out a proper assessment of your legal situation. Retaining a lawyer can be a good decision for some and a waste of capital for others.  

Do You Need Lawyers On A Retainer?

So, here is what you need to consider before you hire lawyers on a retainer fee. Let’s find out.

Think Things Through

Why do you need a lawyer on retainer? A commoner can go a whole life without actually hiring a lawyer more than once. If you actually do not have the need for a lawyer on a regular basis, you might want to sit this one out.

Check Your Insurance

Most insurance policies cover lawyer fees as well. For example, vehicle insurance and homeowner’s insurance will cover for damages to your vehicles and homes. They will also cover the fee for an attorney. Thus, this leaves no need for a retainer fee.

Talk To Your HR

If you work at a reputable organization, chances are that your employee benefits include attorney fees as well. Your office may even have an in-house attorney. They will handle most legal matters for you. Here, too, there is no need to keep lawyers on a retainer fee.

Are There Categories In Retainers Too?

A retainer is basically a sum of money which you pay the lawyer on a regular basis and hire them for a certain period of time. The retainer starts the lawyer-client relationship.

How Much Does It Cost To Have A Lawyer On Retainer?

The amount of the retainer fee can vary on the type of lawyer they hire. It can be of different types. Right now, there are three different kinds of lawyer retainers. The amount can vary depending on the type, too.

Security Retainer

This is a sizeable amount because it is like a security deposit. It is meant for future legal services. It is also an economical option for you because the lawyer does not keep the money till they provide the services.

The person paying the security retainer does it by means of a trust. The state uses the interest from this money to help people who cannot afford legal services. Once your lawyer performs all duties that they were supposed to, they get paid.

Advance Payment Retainer

This is another category under which you can keep a lawyer on retainer. Through this, you get access to only certain legal services as you and your lawyer decide. It is a simple prepayment for future legal services from your lawyer. No trust creation is involved in the process.

Again, here, the amount will depend on the terms of your agreement. It is usually more expensive than other categories because it will cover all of the future fees. Many states do not have this provision because the clients need help getting back the money.

General Retainer

A general retainer is a different kind of retainer. This is the amount you pay to a lawyer or a firm to reserve their services.  

This fee will only retain the lawyer. Thus, you will still be paying the lawyer a separate legal fee for their services. A company may keep a lawyer on retainer to call on his services as and when you require. They pay an additional fee every time there is a legal need, and the lawyer delivers the services.

The general retainer one given is non-refundable.Therefore, how much it cost to keep a lawyer on retainer will depend on the kind of retainer you choose and the services you need.

Final Words To Bear In Mind

Ideally, one has to pay a lawyer retainer fee if they want to secure their services for future use. In cases of estate planning, real estate deals, review and updating of contracts, and other business dealings require a retainer-based lawyer.

There are cases where you will not need to hire a lawyer with a retainer. It can be if the lawyer wants to have a contingency fee arrangement. Also, if it is a one-time thing, you may not want to hire a retainer fee-based lawyer. Either way, it is always good to have an agreement specifying how much you’ll pay the lawyer and what services they will deliver.

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Debkanya Bhattacharya
Debkanya Bhattacharya

Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.


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