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Lawyer Retainer Fees

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What is a Retainer Fee?

A "retainer" is an advanced fee usually based on the lawyer’s hourly rate. Think of a retainer as a “down payment” against which future fees and costs are billed. Usually the retainer is placed in a special account and costs are deducted from there. Bear in mind that a retainer fee usually is non-refundable. A retainer fee can also mean that you pay a retainer to have a lawyer on-call to handle your legal problems over a period of time.  

Can a Retainer Fee be Reduced?

Yes, if a Court finds the fee unreasonable. 

If I Hire a Lawyer on a Retainer Fee should I Ask for Specifics?

Yes, since this type of fee can mean two things, you should ask your attorney to explain your arrangement in detail. 

What is a Statutory Fee?

In some cases the fee of a Legal Service is set by law or a court may set and approve a fee that you pay. This type of fee can occur in probate (the distribution of a deceased person’s estate), bankruptcy, and certain other proceedings. 

Should the Fee Agreement Be in Writing?

Yes, regardless of the fee you agree upon with your attorney, always obtain proof of the agreement and its specifics in writing.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-17-2018 08:54 PM PDT

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