What Is a Retainer Agreement?
Before work can commence on a file, clients enter into a “retainer agreement” with the firm.
This is a written document that lays out the terms of the solicitor-client agreement, specifying the nature of the services to be performed by the lawyer and the costs associated.
Both the client and lawyer sign the agreement and receive copies of the executed document.
What Are Retainer Payments?
As part of the “retainer agreement”, clients deposit an agreed upon sum of money into the firm’s trust account, also called a “retainer payment”.
These funds are held in trust by the lawyer and applied against the invoices received by the clients, which also include “disbursements”.
The dollar figure of these payments range depending on the complexity of the matter and the estimated length of time required to work on the file.
How Do We Bill for Time Spent on a File?
Most lawyers allocate their billable work through the division of each hour of work into 10 six minute increments.
Any time work is completed on your file, a record is kept of the “docketed” time taken to complete the task.
Therefore, hourly fee is divided in the same way and indicated in 1/10th of an hour on your bill.
What Is a Disbursement?
In addition to the”docketed” hourly fees, clients are also responsible for reimbursing the firm for any expenses incurred on their behalf or office charges allocated to your file.
Otherwise known as “disbursements”, these charges include but are not limited to administration fees, long distance calls, faxes, postage, deliveries, travel expenses, photocopying, government filings, levies, search charges and the fees of agents who conduct investigations, searches and registrations and all other reasonable out of pocket expenses and office charges.
Clients are also charged HST on all “disbursements”.