Divorce 101 FAQs

What is a Retainer Agreement?

Written by Russell Alexander ria@russellalexander.com / (905) 655-6335

The document and contract you enter into with your lawyer is called the “retainer agreement”.  The purpose of this agreement is to identify who your lawyer is, acknowledge that you are the client and to define and outline the scope of the services that you need. Your retainer agreement will also set out the obligations that you have to your lawyer as a client.  For example, you’ll be required to provide up-to-date information and instructions to your lawyer as to how you would like your case to proceed.

Further, your retainer agreement will also provide and enable your lawyer to delegate certain aspects of your case work to members of his or her team such as senior law clerks and associates who will help progress your file forward.

Your retainer will set out the hourly rates of the lawyer you hire along with outlining the hourly rates of other members of the law firm who work on your file.  Along with explaining how you will pay for your lawyer’s fees and services, your retainer agreement will also include a rate of fees and what disbursements your lawyer will pay on your behalf and will bill you at a later date.  These disbursements can include things such as faxes, photocopies, postage and court filing fees.

Your retainer agreement will provide for your lawyer to make decisions regarding whether or not time frames for filing certain court documents should be extended or shortened. Your lawyer will want to ensure that all court documents are put before the judge so that he or she can make a proper decision on your case.

Remember, your lawyer cannot guarantee whether or not you will be successful in your case.  Your lawyer will do the very best that they can, but no retainer agreement can guarantee success.

What is an Evergreen retainer?
An ‘evergreen’ retainer is when you always have money in Trust.  If your retainer is exhausted and there is a shortfall, you will immediately pay the entire shortfall and replenish a further retainer equal to your first retainer.

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.