What is a Retainer?

Within the practice of law, a “retainer” can refer to several different things:

  1. The act, by a client, of engaging a lawyer to provide professional services;
  2. An amount of money paid by the client to the lawyer to secure the lawyer’s professional services (i.e., a “financial retainer”); and/or
  3. The document that sets out the terms of engagement between the lawyer and the client for professional services (e.g., a “retainer letter”, “retainer agreement” or “engagement letter”).

This module will focus primarily on the second and third meanings.