Q: What is a retainer?

A: The word retainer is used two different, but related, ways. A “retainer fee” is a lump sum of money paid to a lawyer to secure his or her services and to cover the current and future legal fees and expenses of a legal action. A “retainer agreement” is a contract between the client and lawyer that outlines the expectations and parameters of their working relationship.

Q: What is a retainer agreement?

A: A retainer agreement is made between a client and their lawyer. It sets out the parameters and expectations for the working relationship. It will outline the scope of the lawyer’s authority to act on behalf of the client. A lawyer will usually have full authority to act on behalf of a client, subject to the client’s instructions on important decisions. It will also include details of the costs of legal fees, including hourly rates, disbursements and administrative fees, and the consequences of non-payment.

Q: What is a limited scope retainer?

A: With a limited scope retainer, the client and lawyer agree to specific services and tasks that the lawyer will do for the client.

Q: What is a retainer fee?

A: A retainer fee is a lump sum of money that a lawyer may require before they will begin to act on behalf of that client. The amount is an informed estimate of the legal service that is required. The fee amount is kept in trust, that is, the money is held by the lawyer but still belongs to the client. As the legal matter progresses and services are rendered, the client will be billed directly, and the lawyer will be paid for their services out of retainer sum being held in trust. All funds not spent on legal services will be returned to the client when their matter has been resolved.

Q: What is a flat fee?

A: A flat fee is a set amount of money to be paid for a particular legal service. Examples of flat fee services offered by our firm include: Wills and estate planning, [more services here]

Q: What is a contingency fee agreement?

A: When there is a contingency fee agreement (CFA), the lawyer is paid a portion of a judgment or settlement received by the client. There are no upfront fees for the client. The percentage that the lawyer is paid will depend on how complicated and time-consuming the case is. CFA’s are more common in personal injury cases. There are specific rules in the Legal Profession Act and the Law Society Rules that govern the use of contingency fee agreements in British Columbia.

Q: What costs are associated with a legal action?

A: The primary cost of legal action is the lawyer’s services. The Law Society Rules direct that fees for lawyer’s services must be fair and reasonable. There may be administrative costs or disbursements. Disbursements are payments made by the lawyer on behalf of their client – examples include a court filing fee or an expert report. You can expect an estimate of the cost of your legal matter when you consult with a lawyer.

Q: What is confidentiality?

A: Your lawyer, and anyone who works for her or him, is bound by the duty of confidentiality. This means that we cannot share any of your information without your permission, even if you choose not to hire us. This is meant to protect your privacy and encourage open communication between you and your lawyer.