Legal Retainership can be defined as a contractual relationship between a hired lawyer and a client (Individual or Corporation) specifying the nature of the services to be rendered and the cost for rendering such services. Retainership may involve managing a cause, instituting or defending an action, or performing general legal services on behalf of a client.

Generally, it is common for the services of a lawyer can be employed by an individual or a Corporate body for professional legal services to be rendered for a particular purpose. A legal retainer means that a client employs the legal services of a lawyer for a period of time with the payment of a fee called Retainer fee. In return, the lawyer provides some legal services

A retainer fee is an advanced payment that is made by an individual or corporate client to a lawyer, which is usually considered as a down payment on future services to be rendered by a lawyer.

Retainership is oftentimes useful for individuals or corporations that need constant legal services. For example, if a lawyer is hired for the purpose of litigation, the lawyer will be authorized to accept service of documents and act on behalf of the client.

When a lawyer is employed on a legal retainer by a client, the client prevents the attorney from acting on behalf of an adverse party.

The major types of legal retainership

  • Litigation Retainer: A lawyer can be retained to act on behalf of a client in litigation matters by going to Court to defend or institute an action for a client or perform on a full-time or part-time basis, services relating to Court matters. This type of service cannot be rendered on a fixed or annual retainer fee but on quantum-meruit.
  • Retainership for property management: for instance, a lawyer can be retained by a client who is a landlord to collect rent from tenants, evict defaulting tenants, or institute actions in court from any malicious act that arises in course of managing the property.
  • Company Secretary and Legal Representative & Advisor: this is the most common type of retainership. It is strictly between lawyers and corporate entities. A company may engage the services of a lawyer to act as its company secretary and legal representative for a fixed annual fee, payable on monthly or quarterly installments. A lawyer on this type of retainership shall engage or perform all statutory and administrative functions of a company secretary among some other legal services on behalf of companies. A company seeking to engage a  lawyer for a legal retainership should contact lawyers in Nigeria to discuss the appropriate legal fees.

Commonly, in matters that involve extensive legal professional work, there will be a retainer agreement signed by the lawyer and the client. The agreement contains the nature of services to be performed by the lawyer, the retainer fee charged, and the tenure of the retainer relationship.

Furthermore, an additional payment of fees may be required where the time spent on the task or service increases, especially where such retainership involves litigation. This is based upon the volume of work done by the lawyer on a retainership. Also, a lawyer on retainership may charge the client additional where the professional legal task to be performed is not included in the retainership agreement.

In conclusion, a legal retainership is a work for hire relationship, which is either on a full-time or part-time basis. The purpose is for the performance of services that defines the terms of the working relationship.

It is worthy of note that in the absence of the lawyer performing his professional duties in line with the retainership, the retainership agreement may be terminated by the client.

By Resolution Law Firm

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