This is the fifth in my line of posts responding to the questions posed by Carla Schiff Donnelly in her article about hiring the right divorce lawyer. There, she poses several questions that a person should ask a divorce lawyer in the initial interview. Her fifth, sixth, and eighth questions are related, so I will answer them together. Here is my answer to questions #5, 6, and 8:
• What retainer do you require up front?
• Is any unused portion of the retainer refundable?
• How often will I receive an accounting of my retainer?
Most firms, mine included, require an upfront payment to secure the representation. In my firm, this deposit is held until the end of the case to secure payment throughout the representation. In fact, client deposits are held in a trust account completely separated from the law firm’s accounts. We operate on a “pay as you go” system, where clients are charged on a weekly basis for the work performed the prior week. We invoice on a monthly basis to show a reconciliation of the work performed during the month versus the amounts paid and the deposit held in trust. Upon conclusion of the representation and full payment of all billing, this amount is fully refunded to the client.
See my answer to question #1 How long have you practiced family law? And question #2 What is your approach to a new case? And question #3 What percentage of cases do you settle? And question #4 What is your approach to settling a case?