“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer” is a commonly heard line in movies and television, which has characterized the relationship between attorneys and their clients as a constant service, which can be called upon at the beck and call of the client.
In reality, most of us don’t find ourselves needing legal counsel frequently enough to walk around saying such things to those we spar with over legal matters. Still, life certainly presents legal hurdles that can appear in a moment’s notice.
Divorces, criminal charges, and real estate transactions are all occasions where having a reliable attorney on retainer can hasten the legal processes involved and lessen the stress put on you and your situation.
What exactly is a retainer?
Regardless of whether your legal issues arise from a business or personal lifestyle, some of us require legal counsel more often than others.
For those of us who keep relatively frequent contacts with attorneys, it’s possible to arrange a contract between you and an attorney, which keeps them on hand to represent you or answer legal questions at a moment’s notice. This agreement is known as a retainer.
Typically, retainers come in the form of a down payment or deposit made for future legal services from a particular attorney or firm. Broadly speaking, there are two general kinds of retainers clients can arrange with an attorney.
Retainer fee model
If you have a specific situation that requires you to seek the assistance of an attorney, you may be asked to pay for part or all of your legal fees in advance. This is commonly known as the retainer fee.
Usually, it’s deposited into an escrow account where funds can be deducted from to pay for whatever fees a client incurs. After using the entire retainer fee, a new retainer is arranges or a client may be asked to make monthly payments.
Frequent use model
If you encounter more frequent and regular legal situations, a monthly retainer can be arranged between a client and attorney. This kind of retainer is useful if the client finds himself or herself in need of recurrent legal advice on a monthly basis.
Any legal fees that are incurred during the month are paid through this monthly fee. In some circumstances, attorneys may offer to roll over balances at the end of each month.
Benefits of having your attorney on retainer
Perhaps the most apparent benefit of establishing a retainer agreement with an attorney is having the comfort of immediate legal advice at your fingertips. If you deal with legal issues frequently, a retainer agreement keeps a close line between you and your attorney if questions arise that require immediate attention.
Another less explicit benefit of keeping an attorney on retainer involves criminal defense. Many times, people are mistakenly arrested for reasons based in prior events rather than the facts of a given situation. It is possible that simply because you many have had a run-in with the criminal justice system some time in the past, you are now target by law enforcement officers in some attempt to quell a pattern of crime.
Depending on your situation, you may not always have access to someone on the outside who is able to pay legal fees after an arrest. Establishing a retainer agreement with your lawyer is a way to insure your freedom is guaranteed when you find yourself subject to unjust arrests or police involvement.
If you think a retainer agreement might be beneficial to your legal situation, contact an experienced Beloit criminal defense attorney at The Fitzgerald Law Firm today for a free consultation. We understand that meetings may not be possible during traditional business hours, so please let us know a time that works for you and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
Photo credit: H. Michael Karshis