What is a Retainer Agreement?

April 28, 2013
Ron Shulman

Article written by Ron Shulman

When you hire Shulman Law Firm to assist and represent you in your Family Law matter, you are asked to sign a Retainer Agreement, which is essentially a written contract that sets out the terms of the relationship between you and our firm.

The Retainer Agreement is not quite an employment contract, and not quite a contract for a one-time service arrangement: It sets out the terms governing the initial hiring of our firm to represent you, as well as the terms of any ongoing work that we will do for you.  While governed in a broad sense by established contract law principles, it must also conform to certain requirements set by the Law Society of Upper Canada which regulates lawyers.

The Agreement outlines in writing the specific expectations and goals that form the underpinning of the contract, the nature of the services we will provide, and whether the scope of the work is to be limited in any particular way (e.g. confined to a specific task or series of tasks).

Naturally, it also sets out your commitment to pay us for the legal services we render.  It stipulates whether your legal fees will be incurred on an hourly or fixed-fee basis, and sets the schedule on which you can expect to receive a Statement of Account.   It confirms that you are to pay upon receipt of that Statement, or in some cases may provide payment is to be made monthly, or on another pre-arranged payment basis.

Finally, upon signing our Retainer Agreement you will be asked to pay an amount up-front (a “retainer fee”), which is like a deposit on your account and ensures your payment for future services and any disbursements we incur on your behalf.  As your matter proceeds and that amount is depleted, you provide additional funds to cover upcoming future work.  If any money remains after your matter has been fully completed, then those amounts are refunded to you.

Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation in the resolution of all kinds of family law disputes. Contact us to set up a consultation.