What is a retainer fee?

This is the amount of money that the law firm requires a client to pay to the law firm as a deposit (a down payment) toward the cost of the legal services to be provided. The deposit belongs to the client and is held in a trust account until the money is earned by the law firm. Any amount not used to pay for legal services and for costs paid on behalf of the client is refundable to the client. Some law firms may require retainer fees as high as $5,000 to $10,000. Our retainer fees generally are in the range of $500 to $2,500, because we trust our clients to pay their bills when due. We require some form of retainer fee in all matters except personal injury cases (see “What is a “contingent fee” agreement,” below).