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Retainer Agreement (Attorneys / Lawyers)

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Retainer Agreement (Attorneys / Lawyers)

Updated September 27, 2023

A legal services retainer agreement is for a client who wants to purchase a preset number of hours for a given period for legal services. This is common for business owners who have constant legal matters as the attorney will usually offer a discount on their hours if an agreement is made to pay on a recurring monthly basis.

Table of Contents

Types of Legal Services

  • Arbitration
  • Business / Corporate
  • Criminal
  • Divorce
  • Estate Planning
  • Family Law
  • Immigration
  • Intellectual Property
  • Litigation
  • Malpractice
  • Mediation
  • Personal Injury
  • Probate
  • Real Estate (housing)

What is an Attorney Retainer?

An attorney retainer is a pre-payment of an attorney’s services. For legal cases that will require a minimum set of hours, an attorney will usually request a deposit known as a ‘retainer’ to get started on the work. If the case is resolved earlier than expected, most retainers are refundable for the hours that were not used.

How to Become an Attorney

The process of becoming an attorney is rigorous and requires extensive post-secondary education. The following is required in order to provide legal advice professionally:

  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (generally takes four years);
  • Pass the law school admissions test;
  • Enroll in law school and acquire a Juris Doctor (generally takes three years);
  • Gain work experience in the field (not always necessary); and
  • Pass the Bar Exam.

How Much Does an Attorney Make?

Due to the amount of education and extensive knowledge and experience demanded by legal practitioners, the annual salary is well above the national average. The salary can fluctuate drastically depending on the type of consulting job and the area of expertise.

  • Salary: $127,990/yr[1]
  • Hourly Rate: $61.54/hr[2]

Retainer Agreement Samples

Sample #1

Download: PDF

Sample #2

Download: PDF, MS Word (.docx)

Sample #3

Download: PDF

Related Legal Agreements

Contingency Fee Agreement – For legal work that is paid only if a judgment is received by the client. Popular for personal injury but can be for any case where the client has experienced trauma or undue hardship and seeks compensation.

Attorney Engagement Letter – For legal work that specifies how much the attorney will charge, their associates/paralegals, and if there are any contingency fees.


  1. BLS Salary
  2. BLS Hourly Rate