Signing a retainer agreement when hiring a criminal defence lawyer is a big decision you can to think of. This document is legally binding. It outlines the provided services, the charged fees, and your rights. Understanding the agreement’s terms before signing is critical, as you entrust your future to this lawyer. Scrutinize the retainer closely and ask questions to ensure it protects your interests. Reputable leading criminal defence lawyers offer fair terms to establish trust.

Retainer Agreement

Purpose of the Retainer

A retainer agreement defines the legal relationship. It is between you and your defence lawyer. It details both parties’ services, fees, rights, and obligations. Since it governs your representation, read and comprehend it fully before signing. You are entrusting your freedom to this lawyer. 

Fee Structure

The retainer must clearly state all fees, billing methods, and payment schedules. Fees may be hourly, flat rate, or a blend. Hourly means paying the lawyer’s rate for billable time increments. Flat fee quotes one cost for defined services. Blended combines fixed and hourly fees. Understand payment timelines and options. Obtain fee quotes from multiple lawyers to compare.

Scope of Services

The agreement should detail everything included in the lawyer’s representation, like reviewing charges, court appearances, filings, investigations, client meetings, calls and emails. Note what services incur additional fees. Ask for clarification if the scope seems vague or incomplete. You want to know exactly what the lawyer will and will not do.

Protection of Your Rights

Good lawyers include provisions. They do this to protect your rights and interests. This covers the confidentiality of your information, file ownership, conflicts of interest, and the ability to terminate services. Read these sections closely to ensure your rights are upheld. Lawyers focused on client interests offer fair terms.

Other Key Considerations

  • How will unused fees be handled if your case finishes early?
  • Are retainers separate for appeals or later options?
  • Does the lawyer carry malpractice insurance?
  • Can you terminate if unhappy with services?
  • What case expenses are included or billed separately?
  • Can you get a refund if you hire a new lawyer later?
  • How are communication preferences established?
  • Ask all needed questions before signing. Do not feel rushed by the lawyer.

Ask Questions Before Signing 

Get satisfactory answers to any questions before signing the retainer. For example, clarify the fee structure fully. Understand the lawyer’s rates, increments, and cost estimates if billing is hourly. For flat fees, know exactly what is covered. Never ask the lawyer to explain fees for your specific case. The retainer governs your vital legal relationship, so ensure you comprehend it fully before signing.


The retainer agreement starts your vital client-lawyer relationship. So, look at it closely. Leading criminal defence lawyers aim to establish trust and provide fully transparent terms. Understanding the agreement empowers you to be an active partner in building the strongest legal case possible. With an experienced lawyer guiding you, justice can prevail.