Contracts with Lawyers (1 of 3)

You should understand the contract with your lawyer.  Contracts with lawyers vary, but fit into three main categories – flat fee, contingency, and retainer contracts.  This post is about retainer contracts and only provides a brief overview.  If you have a contract with a lawyer, or are thinking of signing one, make sure to understand that specific contract.

Retainer contracts require an upfront amount, the retainer, to be placed with the law firm.  This goes into a trust account.  That money is held in trust until it is used by the lawyer working on your case and billing his or her time.  Sometimes expenses are also paid out of the trust retainer.  Expenses might include filing fees, service fees, copy fees and/or costs for depositions to name a few examples.

Some retainers have evergreen clauses, which state when your retainer hits a certain level, you must refill the retainer.  This makes sure that there is always an amount with the firm to cover time and expenses.

Most firms send out billing statements once a month.  The statements should tell you what was done during the past month on your case, how much it cost, and how much is left in the trust account.

Retainer contracts are commonly used in cases where the amount of time needed to pursue the case and/or the monetary payoff is uncertain and can vary greatly.  Family law lawyers normally use retainer contracts.

Always make sure you read the contract you will be signing, and if you have questions, ask.  The lawyer you work with wants you to understand that contract so that there is no misunderstanding later.  The lawyer wants to fight for  you, not fight with you.

Fee Contracts: Contract with Lawyers (2 of 3)

Contingency Fee Contracts: Contracts with Lawyers (3 of 3)

About CJ.Harding
Chris believes one of the most important aspects of family law is seeing the 'big picture.' This means understanding the law, the facts of your case and the range of possible outcomes. Only after knowing each of those can an attorney convey the risks and potential results and guide you to make the right decision for your case, your life and your family. He understands every person and every case is unique. Chris will advocate for the very best possible result in your case. He has worked on a variety of family law cases, including tracing of assets, property division of estates worth more than one million dollars, international and interstate child custody issues, enforcement actions as well as pre-marital and post-marital agreements. Chris continues to be a student of the Law and helps to educate others by maintaining the "Hot Topics" section of the Firm web site, which features current issues in Texas family law. Topics have included how a bankruptcy can affect child support and the differences between alimony and court ordered spousal maintenance. Chris joined the firm after graduating cum laude from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. During his time at SMU, Chris competed in numerous mock and moot competitions and placed nationally. Chris is a native Texan, growing up in the Houston area and completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

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