A retainer fee contract may be formed between an attorney and their client in order to cover legal fee arrangements. In many cases, the retainer fee will be paid to the lawyer before trial, as a sort of "down-payment" on their legal services. This can be a substantial amount of money that will be set aside in an account and used during the course of trial. The contract may also cover other types of legal fees such as contingency fee amounts and other court costs.
Another type of retainer agreement is where a client retains the services of one particular attorney or firm, and keeps them "on call" in case a legal dispute arises. This type of retainer arrangement is common for businesses and organizations who need regular legal representation and who face legal issues as a common aspect of their business operations.
In this kind of retainer agreement, the client may promise to work only with that lawyer when it is practical to do so. Or, the lawyer may promise certain legal fees rate to the client for as long as they are "retained" by the client. Of course, the exact terms will vary according to the party’s needs.
The laws governing these types of arrangements can vary by region, and may also be subject to professional and ethical rules of conduct.
Retainer disputes can lead to losses of time and resources for both the client and the attorney or law firm involved. For instance, non-payment of lawyer fees can result in additional legal issues for the parties. Or, misuse of the retainer funds by the attorney can result in a violation, and sometimes can lead to an ethical violation as well. Thus, it’s important for both sides to be absolutely clear on the terms of the retainer agreement. Disputes can lead to a damages award or other relevant legal remedies.
Retainer fees can be helpful for the working relationship between a lawyer and their client. However, they can also lead to disputes, breaches, or other conflicts. You may need to speak with an attorney if you have any issues with a retainer fee or other type of legal fee. Your lawyer can help determine your course of action so that you can recover damages if you have any losses caused by a violation.