One of the common payment options for legal services is a legal retainer, particularly for corporations. This is a type of payment which is paid in advance of the services actually being delivered, something which is desirable as it ensures that you won’t be left in the lurch by your legal advisers. It comes with a variety of responsibilities which need to be observed by both parties for their mutual benefits.
From the perspective of the one retaining a lawyers legal services, it primarily acts as an assurance that the lawyer/attorney will not be able to switch sides during the middle of a legal defence and begin to act on your adversary’s behalf. This covers them and any of their associates as well, so it is very beneficial. Of course it is worth knowing that any attorney you hire will also have to observe the client confidentiality requirements of their profession.
Another advantage with paying for a legal retainer is that you’re essentially paying for an hourly rate. This means that you’re able to enter into a legal agreement with your lawyer with a full understanding of what your paying for, giving you a better position to form a judgement on the results they achieve. Ultimately this makes them more accountable for the work they put in and the results they achieve.
It also gives you cover in the event that you don’t receive a proper defence, both in the form of a refund from your legal team and a defence during any courtroom appeal.
From the perspective of the lawyer whose services have been retained, it guarantees at least a minimum coverage for the work they put in. In this sense it is at odds with the alternative model of payment, no win no fee, where a lawyer has the potential to earn more than they could if they had an hourly rate, but also to earn considerably less than that. What it also means that the amount of money they receive for their work is based upon what they put in to the case, rather than the result achieved at the end of it.
Often you’ll find that a legal retainer is used by businesses and individuals with significant financial interests and liabilities as a kind of open ended deal between them and a law firm. What this means is that retainer can then be used to deal with any number of legal matters which may arise, and that a legal retainer can also be stretched to continue over a number of years. This gives these organisations and individuals the added assurance that they will have a legal team which has a greatly reduced chance of a conflict of interest occurring.