Most people assume that you have two options when going through a legal process. The first is that you hire a lawyer for everything to do with the matter. That means having to provide a substantial retainer to a lawyer and continually topping up your retainer as your file progresses. The second option is to not get a lawyer, do it all alone, or with some community supports like Family Justice Services or free legal clinics.
There is another option. The Limited Retainer.
What is a Limited Retainer?
A limited retainer is hiring a lawyer for only one portion of the work on a legal file. The lawyer still charges their regular rate, however, the retainer is lower than the traditional model. The lawyer and you will sign a Limited Retainer Agreement which clearly outlines the scope of the retainer (ie. what they will do for you). The scope can be anything that you need help with in your legal file. It can be as small as filing a document in court for you to having a lawyer attend in court on your behalf for a contested application.
The possibilities are endless. Some examples can include:
The main advantage is cost. You are directly controlling how much you spend with a lawyer. They charge their same rates, but are only doing what was explicitly agreed upon. The lawyer doesn’t have to bring the entire file from beginning to end with each step in between.
Another advantage is time savings. Sometimes hiring a lawyer to do a step in the process, like drafting or filing simple documents or serving documents, may actually drastically cut the time you spend on these procedures and your time on this matter overall. Lawyers do this work every day and therefore know how to do procedural steps and can get them done quickly. In addition, retaining a lawyer on a limited scope to review the file and advise of a strategy may also help you focus your time on what needs to be done and the legal tests to be met.
Finally, limited retainers allow you to be able to appear in court, in questionings, and in other meetings more effectively and efficiently. The limited retainer lawyer can help you with documents, help you prepare for court and even appear in court for you. They can take the guess-work out of the court process or other process that are more complex for a self-represented party to navigate.
How do you hire a lawyer on a limited retainer?
Most of our lawyers will take matters on a limited retainer basis. You will discuss the matter in an initial consultation either on the phone or in person with the lawyer so that they can personalize the limited scope retainer for you.
After the scope is finalized, you will be asked to pay the retainer agreed upon and sign the Limited Retainer Agreement.
Contact us if you are interested in a Limited Retainer.
Allison Ross is an Associate with Rowanoak Law Office LLP and an advocate for limited retainers.