Why Reading Your Retainer/Fee Agreement is Important
Like any document requiring your signature, you should always read all the papers needing your attention. You should even read the small print as there can be some tricky points hidden there. And, reading an attorney’s retainer/fee agreement is no exception. This blog will take a look at why it is important to read the retainer/fee agreement but first understanding what a retainer/fee agreement is will help to explain the importance of reading it in its entirety.
According to the online definition of a legal retainer, ”A retainer is an advance payment that a client makes to his or her lawyer before the lawyer performs any legal work for the client. It is similar to an allowance in that the lawyer can draw funds for various fees as the case proceeds.” In the written agreement you will be asked to sign, there will be the required dollar amount, and what services will be performed, how the fees including the lawyer’s time will be figured and the costs such as making copies, hiring an expert witness, and cost for filing fees.
Additionally, you will agree to whether your lawyer will be the one to represent you in court and whether, should the entire retainer not be needed, you will be given a refund. And, should your entire retainer be spent and more money needed, how will this be billed, up-front or as the case proceeds? Details should be in the retainer agreement as to how the lawyer will document the way the money will be spent and how often you will receive a copy of this information.
As you can see, there are many points to be covered in a retainer/fee agreement, and you want to be sure you understand and agree with them all before signing. Take your time to read through the entire document carefully. Read through the agreement a second time and take a highlighter to any part you have questions about. The lawyer should be glad to answer your questions and, in areas of concern, reassure you. Sometimes you may disagree with what is in the retainer agreement and the lawyer may be willing to make changes to better suit your needs.
Many lawyers offer a free, initial, in-office consultation where you can ask questions, read over his or her retainer/fee agreement, and then take some time before signing and making a final commitment. It is a good idea to consult with more that one lawyer before making up your mind. If you live in Florida in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough county or in New York or Washington DC, and are looking for a Family Law lawyer, Attorney Grant Gisondo has over a decade of experience and can help. He offers a free, initial, in-office consultation to answer questions and to help you decide how best to handle your case. Attorney Gisondo will discuss his retainer/fee agreement as well. His office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and, for new clients, on Saturdays from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. You can call his office in West Palm Beach at (561) 530-4568 to make an appointment.