A Retainer Fee is a deposit paid by a new client at the time they hire our firm. A client is required to keep refreshing that deposit so that there is always a positive balance. Once the case is completed, the balance is refunded to the client. We are lawyers, not bankers, and so don't get into collecting bills from clients.

As a lawyer, we don't control the cost of cases. Our clients determine the costbased on the level of conflict. That means that the more complicated and high-conflict your case is, the higher your retainer will be. 

brian walters

How Does a Retainer Fee Work?

Once we receive a retainer fee, we put it in a trust account. We don't earn it until our firm's billings, are deducted from the amount in trust. Any unused funds in trust will be refunded to you at the conclusion of the case.

Example #1: you pay us a $10,000 retainer fee. We bill $7,000 during your case. You get $3,000 back at the end of the case.

Example #2: you pay us a $10,000 retainer fee. We bill $14,000 during your case. You will need to pay us an additional $4,000 during the case. Then when the case ends we're even.

How Much is Our Retainer Fee?

Retainer fees range from $2,500 to $50,000, depending on the lawyer selected and the complexity of the case. Most retainer amounts will range from $5,00 to $15,000. In many cases you will need to come up with more funds during the case, if it is a high conflict and complexity case.

The factors that increase the retainer are:

  • whether there are children involved in the suit;
  • assets involved in a divorce;
  • anticipated level of conflict;
  • the attorney on the other side;
  • Court & County that the case is filed in; and,
  • the probability that a client will pay in the future.

Some examples of the typical attorney fees charged by lawyers in our firm:

  • Brian D. Walters - 22 years as a lawyer; first Board Certified in Family Law in 2003; retainer fees starting at $15,000 for Divorces with children & $10,000 for other types of cases; handles cases all over Texas.
  • James “Jake” Gilbreath - 10 year lawyer; Board Certified in Family Law; retainer fees starting at $10,000 for Divorces with children & $7,500 for other types of cases; handles cases all over Texas;
  • Senior Associates - Retainer fees starting at $7,500 for Divorces with children & at $5,000 for other types of cases; handle cases in Austin, Houston & Dallas-Fort Worth.
  • Associate Attorneys - Retainer fees ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 in most cases.

How will you pay for fees that go over the retainer fee? In a divorce, you may be able to require your spouse to pay your attorney fees. Otherwise, clients often have to borrow from friends, family or credit cards or banks.

How do you know what you owe? You will get a monthly invoice that will show this. Our firm will send the client monthly invoices which provide detail of how time was spent working on the case, the cost for that month, and the amount of funds remaining in that client's trust. 

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