What Is Inside a Family Law Retainer Agreement?
A retainer is an agreement in which the individual hiring another’s services pays in advance for work to be determined at a later date. Many lawyers work on retainer agreements in which the client pays them a certain amount to handle the entirety of the case for them. These agreements may differ on a case by case basis, but many feature similar pieces. Many choose to go with this type of agreement rather than paying in intervals. Divorce or other legal issues may be difficult to cope with for some people. Paying a lawyer to handle the entirety of the case may be a load off their shoulders and one less thing to worry about.
The retainer agreement may stipulate the extent of the services provided by the attorney. For instance, the agreement may stipulate that the attorney will perform various legal services up to and through a trial and post trial motions, but not through any appeals or future legal or other proceedings unless agreed upon further.
The agreement will also stipulate the legal fees and billing for the agreement. In this section you will likely find the attorney’s hourly rate and rates of other members of the law firm in which he or she works. This section will also outline what actions the attorney will charge you for such as time spent on the telephone or meeting with individuals such as opposing counsel as it relates to your case. This may also include time spent at court, waiting time at court or other locations, as well as travel time to and from court or various meetings or tasks related to the case.
Costs incurred while performing legal services for the case may also be charged as part of the retainer. Costs may include process servers’ fees, court or other legal fees, court reporters’ fees, telephone calls (long distance), parking fees and various travel expenses. Various overtime for staff members may be charged as well, if applicable. The contract may also stipulate that the client must pay for expert witnesses or consultants or investigators as necessary for the case.
Once the retainer is exhausted, the law firm may begin sending monthly statements. The contract will likely mention that it is difficult, if not impossible, to estimate the total cost of the case at the outset. Before signing any document, read it over so that you understand the agreement in which you are entering.