What Does it Mean to Have a Lawyer on Retainer?

Lawyer on Retainer
Lawyer on Retainer

When someone threatens to call “their” lawyer, it probably means they have a “paid” lawyer. Attorney fees mean that you, as a client attorney, regularly pay a small amount to an attorney. In return, the attorney provides legal services that are always specific to YOU.

Lawyer on Retainer are most useful for businesses that need ongoing or partially repetitive legal work but don’t have the money to hire a lawyer long enough. This could include services such as ensuring legal compliance, reviewing documents, or representing the company in labor or contract disputes. Also, people who are likely to need a lot of legal work, typically those with a higher net worth, will likely keep an attorney on hold.

What To Consider Before Hiring an Attorney on Retainer

If having an attorney on call sounds tempting, stop and think about your legal situation first. Hiring a lawyer can be a smart move or a waste of money. Ask himself said:

What would you use the lawyer for? Barring a major accident, most single people need a lawyer every few years. If this applies to you, hiring an attorney may not be a wise decision.

Check your insurance policies. Most insurance policies, including auto and home insurance, will pay for you if you are involved in an accident. If this is the case, then there is no need to pay a lawyer as additional insurance against these lawsuits.


Check your benefits. If you are employed by a large company or a member of a union, an on-call attorney may be part of your benefits. These attorneys can handle most routine legal matters, such as wills and real estate transactions, as well as certain court cases.

Paying another attorney on a fee basis when you already have one through your employer generally does not make financial sense.

Finally, don’t get confused with the terms “advance” or “advance agreement.” This is not generally the same as having a lawyer “for hire”. When you “hire an attorney” it simply means you hire the attorney and the money you have in part to the attorney WILL be referred to as a “supervisor”. The agreement that WILL be signed when someone hires an attorney WILL BE called the retainer.

Have a Clear Representation Agreement

When hiring an attorney for a fee, it is important to have a written representation agreement. This agreement sets out what types of matters your attorney can handle, when you pay them, and when you pay for their services. As with other rate agreements, it’s important to know what you get for what you pay, and having a written agreement can help protect you.

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