Retainer Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Retainer, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Retainer?

(n) A retainer is the hiring of future service of a person rendering such services to the public by fixing his compensations for the services to be rendered either by assignment basis or by time period basis

History and Meaning of Retainer

The term "retainer" has its roots in medieval times when knights and other warriors would retain the services of a squire or other assistant. These retainers were often paid in advance to provide for their services for a certain period of time. Today, the term is used more broadly in the legal profession, where it refers to the payment of a fee to an attorney for their services.

A retainer agreement is a contract between an attorney and a client that outlines the scope of the legal services that will be provided and the fee for those services. The fee is typically paid upfront or on an ongoing basis, and the client is then able to access the attorney's services as needed.

Examples of Retainer

  1. A client hires a lawyer for ongoing legal advice and representation. The lawyer requires the client to pay a retainer fee upfront, which will be used to cover the cost of their services as needed.

  2. A business hires an accounting firm to provide financial advice and services. The accounting firm requires the business to pay a retainer fee in order to secure their services for a certain period of time.

  3. An individual hires a consulting firm to provide strategic advice on a complex business issue. The consulting firm requires the individual to pay a retainer fee in order to secure their services and ensure they are available as needed.

Legal Terms Similar to Retainer

  1. Contingency fee - a fee paid to an attorney that is contingent upon the outcome of a legal case. If the attorney wins the case, they receive a percentage of the settlement or judgment.

  2. Hourly rate - a fee paid to an attorney based on the number of hours worked on a case.

  3. Flat fee - a fee paid to an attorney for a specific legal service, regardless of the amount of time it takes to complete the service.