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For a reminder on how legal retainers work, please review the Retainer FAQ below:
A retainer is a deposit for legal services that we place in a holding account. It remains your money until we’ve earned it. At the conclusion of your matter, any unused amounts will be refunded. For example, if you deposit $2k in retainers, and we resolve your legal matter for $1k, you would be refunded $1k. Retainers are the amounts initially paid by you so that the attorney can get started on your case; they are not estimates of the total costs associated to resolve your case.
No. It is important to understand that retainers are not estimations for the total legal costs associated with your matter; they are estimations for what it will cost to get to the next step based on similar situations we’ve worked with in the past. As we never know how an opposing party will respond, in good faith we cannot quote you a total cost to resolve the matter.
No, Retainers are not payments; they are deposits. Funds for retainers are put in holding accounts; our firm cannot transfer these funds into our account until we have earned them. If an attorney can resolve a matter for less than the retainer, you would receive a refund for the difference. For example, if you paid $5000 in retainers and the total legal costs to resolve ended up being $3000, you would receive $2000 back.
And initial retainer is what needs to be paid initially to sign you on as a client so the attorney can get started on your matter. However, after the attorney starts reviewing your case, they may need to increase the refillable amount, if there are any changes in complexities.
Initial and refillable are just terms used to describe the status of a retainer. What you pay initially to get your case started is the “initial” retainer. If more funds are required to continue legal work on your case, the retainer is refilled, or refillable.
A retainer is like a debit card. You pay into an account and that account is used for anyone on our legal team to draw funds from for various fees associated with that legal matter. The people who bill against your retainer are your specific attorney, any attorney that is doing research or side work for your attorney on your specific legal matter, your specific paralegal, or any other paralegal who is helping in your specific legal matter. Our senior attorneys bill at $385/hr, our associate attorneys bill at $350/hr and the paralegals bill at $185/hr.
Your retainer will be monitored closely by our attorneys and our financial team. We will do our best to notify you when funds are low. You will always get a retainer refill request when your funds have been depleted. We work on evergreen retainers, so at 50%, the retainer needs to be replenished.
Not all legal cases require a retainer. For example, the legal work involved in buying or selling a home (assuming it’s a normal real estate transaction) is a flat, one-time fee. However, the legal work involved in a divorce, child custody case, etc., can be more complex, and it’s impossible to know 100% how the opposing party will react. A retainer makes it possible for your legal team to keep your case moving forward.
Attorney Retention Agreement. The O’Flaherty Law ARA description language is as follows: “You agree to pay the law firm an initial retainer fee of $2500 upon the date that this Retainer Agreement is executed by all parties. When we render bi-weekly bills to you, we will use funds from the initial retainer to pay our bi-weekly bills. If the amount of the initial retainer in the client trust account fall below 50% of the required retainer, you agree to replenish the funds up to the amount of $2500 within 14 days of your receipt of our bi-weekly billing statement. Failure by you to replenish the funds to the amount of $2500 within 14 days of your receipt of our bi-weekly billing statement may cause the law firm to withdraw from our representation of you, subject to the rules of professional conduct. This retainer will not constitute the total fees in representation of Client. O’Flaherty Law represents and Client acknowledges that this initial retainer may well be exhausted, should it become exhausted, subsequent refill(s) to the retainer will be necessary to ensure O’Flaherty Law’s continued representation of Client. The initial retainer fee and additional refill retainers paid to O’Flaherty Law are the sole property of O’Flaherty Law upon receipt by O’Flaherty Law subject to any applicable right of reimbursement to Client for return of amounts unused. Upon conclusion of this matter, the retainer balance shall be returned to Client by O’Flaherty Law. This required retainer amount may be increased or decreased at any time at the sole discretion of O’Flaherty Law. The required retainer amount will be increased in anticipation of discovery depositions and/or trial. This increase shall be provided to client in writing. Client shall have at least fourteen (14) days’ notice prior to the date a discovery or trial retainer is due. Failure to fund a trial or discovery retainer shall be grounds for termination of representation. The retainer shall be used to pay O’Flaherty Law for any attorney and support staff work, as well as, costs at the time that such fees and costs are accrued.”