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What is a Retainer and How Does It Work?
What is a Retainer and How Does It Work?

What is a Retainer and How Does It Work?

Navigating the world of legal services can often be daunting, especially in understanding the various fee arrangements and financial commitments. One such arrangement frequently used by legal professionals is the retainer. With a retainer, the client agrees to pay an upfront fee to secure the law firm’s availability to perform specific legal services. The retainer is paid at the start of representation, and is placed in a separate trust account. Fees are collected as work is performed and expenses are incurred. 

At Buxton and Collie LLC, we offer retainers to give you peace of mind, knowing your legal issues will be handled promptly and professionally.

How much is the retainer?

The scope of work is outlined in the Engagement Letter, which also lists the retainer amount. The Engagement Letter outlines the scope of services, rates, and terms of the relationship. It formalizes and starts (upon signing) the attorney-client relationship. The Engagement Letter will establish expectations upfront regarding hourly rates, response times, staffing, expenses, termination, and other factors.

The amount of the retainer fee is determined by the complexity and estimated duration of the legal work. It usually contemplates the first major portion of the work to be completed, and is not a total estimate of legal costs. 

At Buxton & Collie, LLC, we request initial retainers for most clients. In all cases, we invoice the client monthly, showing fees incurred, the retainer funds applied, and any additional amounts due. When the retainer funds are depleted, we either ask for a replenishment or bill the client at our hourly rate on a monthly basis. Any unused retainer funds are refunded at the end of the engagement.

How Retainers for Lawyers Work

Once the Engagement Letter is signed and the retainer fee paid, our lawyers will start working on your matter. The retainer reserves time and ensures the attorney or law firm is prepared to represent you. At Buxton & Collie, we record the time spent, services rendered and expenses incurred for the monthly invoice.

Why Do Lawyers Use Retainers?

There are many advantages to using retainers, besides securing the services of the law firm for a particular matter. Retainers give law firms peace of mind that they will be paid for at least a portion of their work at the start of the engagement. Retainers can also give the client a better understanding of the overall cost of their project, since the retainer is a starting point. 

Retainers allow the attorneys at Buxton & Collie to develop long-term relationships with clients. By providing an initial retainer, you show you are invested in working with the firm to resolve your legal issues. In return, the firm is available to help you or your business with ongoing legal issues that may extend beyond a single project.

Contact Our Charleston Business Attorneys Today

Retainers offer law firms financial security and confirm your dedication to obtaining legal counsel. Requiring retainers is a common practice that benefits lawyers and clients by addressing legal needs appropriately.

At Buxton & Collie, LLC, we know that most businesses have ongoing legal issues that must be addressed promptly. We offer affordable retainer options to address your business law needs. Contact us today to learn more about establishing a retainer agreement with our Charleston business attorneys.