Should You Hire an Attorney on Retainer?

Adding a regular expense for legal fees may not seem like an attractive choice at first. After all, achieving stability in your business or personal finances can be a high-wire act. Even in the most profitable times, common sense dictates that you manage your expenses carefully.

This thinking typically results in waiting for a compelling reason as to why you should hire an attorney on retainer. Nonetheless, this reasonable approach can also lead to tunnel vision. While you may not need legal counsel today, you may need it desperately tomorrow.

Give yourself a few minutes today to read this guide, consider your options, and evaluate your needs. You may find more reasons to retain a lawyer than you thought.

Is it Worth it?

Thoughtfully addressing this question requires looking at some general pros and cons. Accordingly, we have gathered some prevalent thoughts anyone considering a lawyer on retainer should examine below. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of having an attorney on retainer.


The internet is replete with blog articles that ask a version of “what should you ask an attorney?” There is an understandable reason for this phenomenon. Most individuals do not have a regular need for legal advice. Moreover, their search for a lawyer comes at one of the most stressful times of their life. The thought of paying an attorney retainer fee may not ever seem like a reasonable idea.

However, think about how much time and effort goes into finding a lawyer you trust. How much would it be worth to know you can call on them again? Ultimately, they may not have availability when you need them again. In this scenario, you have to start your search from scratch, which can cost something even more valuable than money – time.


Anyone who believes they have reason to retain an attorney can also see significant ebbs and flows in their requirements. For example, consider a scenario where your company is in the process of acquiring a small business. You may assume that the requisite paperwork and changes in business processes will take several months. If it takes less time than anticipated, you may have paid in advance for more work than was necessary. You can use these services later, but what if that need doesn’t materialize for years?

Moreover, there can be disputes over the scope of work available to you. You can mitigate this problem through clear communication. If the law firm doesn’t have the expertise you need for a particular concern, you may want to pay a retainer for a lawyer that can step up when necessary.

Finally, there is the possibility that you may disagree with your attorney, or you flat out want to change lawyers. This could be much easier to do if you hire one attorney outright, instead of holding a one on retainer.

Types of Retainer

One of the biggest obstacles to having a lawyer on retainer, is the potential cost. The type of retainer payment often depends on the specific services you anticipate in the future. For example, having someone ready to defend you in a lawsuit may necessitate one form over the other. We have provided an examination of potential situations in the following sections.


Paying in advance based on hourly rates is advantageous when you have reasonable expectations of your average needs. For instance, they may know that a relatively simple motion in court is almost always an eight-hour endeavor. If you anticipate needing this service several times, you can simply pay in advance for your annual needs.


Generally speaking, attorneys agree to contingency fees for lawsuits they file on behalf of their clients. For something like a personal injury lawsuit, they may waive the costs unless they win the case.

As for businesses, a practical example is your copyright concerns. Maybe you need to establish a new trademark. Or, there may be a competitor transgressing on your trademark to steal customers away.

In either scenario, you may want an attorney on retainer to take action contingent on success enforcing your intellectual property.

Flat or Block Fee

A law firm must have significant confidence in its costs and lawyers for a particular task to offer a flat or block fee. As a result, they may agree to this arrangement for routine and predictable needs. As a business owner, you may see much-needed cost savings through this arrangement that takes the sting out of inflating costs.

Work With an Experienced Local Attorney

Now that you know more about how retainers work, do you see a need this arrangement can meet? Are you in a position where you should hire an attorney on retainer? Taking this step can be one of the most overlooked considerations for anyone who starts a business

We have a network of highly qualified lawyers that can be ready to serve your needs when they arise. If desired, we can also help you find an attorney on retainer across state lines. Contact us through our website or call (866) 345-6784 to get started!

Return to the Blog

How It All Works

Call us or answer the questions on this site. Your category, location, and additional information will help us connect you to a legal professional and we’ll send you the results instantly.

Which Areas of Law?

We have attorneys in over 20 legal categories to choose from.

How Much Does This Cost?

We don’t charge you to be connected. Some legal categories require upfront fees while others do not. The legal professional will determine this with you before you commit to anything.