RETAINER - When first discussing your case, your lawyer will usually ask for a retainer. This is a sum of money that will be deposited in the lawyer's trust account as a credit against the services performed and expenses to be incurred on your behalf. As the case proceeds, the lawyer will submit accounts to you, and will debit your account accordingly.
DISBURSEMENTS- These are out-of-pocket expenses, such as court filing fees, expert reports or photocopying or long distance charges, which the lawyer incurs on your behalf. You are responsible for them and, unless they are deducted from your retainer, you will be billed for them as they arise.
COSTS- When a civil case goes to court, the judge may award "costs" to the successful party. If you win, the losing party will be required to pay part of your lawyer's account, calculated according to a schedule fixed by the Rules of Court. Normally the schedule will allow only part of your lawyer's total account, and you are responsible for the balance. If you lose the case, you will have to pay all your own lawyer's fees, and a portion of the successful party's legal fees. Arrangements may be made with the lawyer for the lawyer to receive, as part of the lawyer's fee, the allowable court costs awarded in your favour.