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retainer

n. the advance payment to an attorney for services to be performed, intended to insure that the lawyer will represent the client and that the lawyer will be paid at least that amount. Commonly in matters which will involve extensive work there will be a retainer agreement signed by the attorney and client. Further payments for services can be expected as the time spent on the legal matter increases. Most lawyers do not want to be owed money and wish to be paid either in advance or promptly as the work is performed. One reason for the retainer, and the problem a lawyer faces, is that he/she does not want to abandon a client, but at the same time does not want to be stuck with extensive unpaid fees.


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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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