After selecting a lawyer to hire for a divorce case, lawyers typically require that the soon-to-be-client to pay a retainer that covers how much the client will be charged.
A retainer is an advanced payment for work to be performed at a later time. In other words, a retainer is similar to a down payment that guarantees that the lawyer will be available to work on your case in the future. As such, retainer agreements are essentially contracts that lay out important financial terms of the attorney-client relationship.
For example, a divorce lawyer may require a retainer in the amount of $3,500 before working on a divorce. If the person signs the retainer agreement and pays the $3,000, this money is then be placed in a trust account. If the divorce lawyer bills at an hourly rate of $100, the retainer would not run out until the divorce lawyer worked 30 hours on the case. If the case if completed after only 15 hours of work, the lawyer would keep $1,500 for services rendered and return $1,500, the amount remaining in the trust account, to the client. If, however, the case takes more than 30 hours of work, a divorce lawyer may require their client to replenish their retainer.
Paralegals and legal assistants also bill clients for work performed on a case, although usually as lower rates than lawyers. In addition, retainer agreements usually state that clients are responsible to pay other costs, including filing fees, photocopies, mailings, couriers, mileage, travel, and parking.
Before entering into a retainer agreement with the divorce lawyer, make sure you understand the agreement and its terms and conditions. Be sure to read the entire retainer, and if you have questions about the fee agreement, get clarification before signing it.
Minnesota Divorce Lawyers
At Clausen & Hassan, our Minnesota divorce lawyers know that many clients have little experience with the legal process. If you have questions about procedures or your specific situation, contact us today for your free consultation.