How Does a Retainer Work?
Whenever I do a consultation with someone, I will quote a retainer for their case, if desired. But, a lot of times, people do not know what a "retainer" is when it comes to legal fees, even if they have had a lawyer before, or have talked to other lawyers. Time to learn!
A retainer, in the legal world, is a sum of money that the person hiring the lawyer deposits into the lawyer's trust account. The lawyer holds the money for the person in their trust account, and may only withdraw the funds "as fees are earned or expenses incurred." (Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(c)). Simply put, a lawyer cannot take money out of your retainer unless and until hey have earned fees per the term of your fee agreement or incurred costs per the terms of your fee agreement.
I provide retainer statements monthly to clients, or upon demand at any time. Retainer records are kept up to the moment and can be accessed at a moment's notice. It is your money, you should be able to find out how much you have any time.
I try to quote a retainer amount that I think will cover the legal situation that you have described to me. However, if things go differently than planned you can end up having to make another retainer deposit, or you may get a refund when the case is concluded.
You can pay your retainer via check, money order, cash, or credit card. However, if a credit card is used I do charge the 3% fee that the credit card processing service charges me.
I am happy to answer any questions you have about how retainers work, or about your specific legal situation. I offer a 30-minute phone consultation ($75) and will quote you a retainer amount for your case at that time!