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How Attorney Retainers Work

All Family Law attorneys charge a retainer. A retainer is some amount of money the client is required to pay up front. That money, let’s say $3,500, but it could be much higher, goes into an account in the client’s name. That money still belongs to the client until it is earned by the attorney. The attorney then charges against those funds at their hourly rate for the work they have done, say for example $350/hr. When the money starts dwindling down, the client may need to replenish the account with more money until the case is completed. And, at the end of your case, whatever money is left in your retainer, or in your account, is always returned to you. If you have any attorney who does NOT return the unearned fees to you at the end of your case, they are acting unethically, and you should immediately report them to the State Bar and get your money back.

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