No matter the size of your company, having a lawyer on retainer can be advantageous for your business, especially when issues unexpectedly arise.

Business owners often hire attorneys on an ad-hoc basis, retaining them as different matters need to be handled. They deem this to be more cost effective, since they do not expect to frequently need an attorney.

However, having a business lawyer on retainer can provide multiple advantages, including:

  • Always having a trusted attorney on hand who is familiar with the intricacies of your business
  • No longer having to scramble to find a trusted attorney when legal issues arise
  • Being given exclusive priority due to the consistent nature of your partnership.

Let’s break down what exactly it means to have a lawyer on retainer and how they can help your business.

What Does it Mean to Have a Lawyer on Retainer?

When you hire an attorney on retainer, it means you deposit an upfront legal retainer fee in advance, which goes into a special account. You should have a retainer agreement with the attorney that sets out what the retainer fee is and how to proceed if the fee is depleted.

If you use the lawyer’s services, you will be billed at the end of each month, and the fee involved will be transferred from the special account into the lawyer’s account. If the work done is more than the amount in the special account, you will be billed for the additional cost. If the case takes less time than the initial estimate, you generally can have the excess amount returned.

What Can a Lawyer on Retainer Do For Your Business?

When you have a lawyer on retainer, your attorney will be instantly available when you are faced with legal issues or if you just need advice. A retained attorney can provide assistance in areas such as:

Intellectual Property Law

Almost every business has some amount of intellectual property. Any creative content, trade secrets, inventions, or unique branding resources such as logos, slogans, and business names are the result of your own creativity and help set your business apart. If a competitor infringes on your intellectual property, they can begin to steal your customers away and reduce your business’s competitive edge.

Your lawyer on retainer will help you protect your intellectual property with patents, trademarks, and copyrights, as well as non-disclosure agreements and advice for handling trade secrets.

Employment Law, Human Resources, and Liability Issues

Attorneys are there not only to help with pressing legal issues. Sometimes the point of having a lawyer on retainer is to avoid some of those pressing legal issues. Your lawyer on retainer can advise you when it comes to employment law and human resources, to minimize the chances of any lawsuits against your company. In addition, they can offer advice about liability issues and how to avoid liability in the event of an accident.

Business Contracts or Real Estate Transactions

Much of what we think about when we think of attorneys comes down to contracts. Contracts need to be worded precisely, or they can lead to a legal mess. Your attorneys can draft legal contracts and review legal contracts from other parties before you sign them to ensure everything is above board.

When it comes to real estate transactions like lease agreements, your attorney will review all necessary paperwork and advise you to request any changes before moving forward.


Even if you’re careful when it comes to liability, you may still find yourself facing litigation. When you’re headed to court, you want an attorney you can trust. Rather than searching for a new attorney and hoping it works out, you’ll already have an established relationship with your lawyer on retainer. They will likely already be familiar with the situation leading to litigation.

Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory compliance with Texas laws regarding zoning, permits, and taxes take up a bulk of what lawyers on retainer handle. Regulatory compliance requirements are often shifting and updating, and it can be overwhelming for business owners to keep track of it all. Fortunately, your attorney can do so for you, so you can avoid hefty noncompliance fees.

Ensuring Your Business Location Is Secure and Cost Effective

Your attorney on retainer can even advise you when it comes to your business location. By reviewing zoning laws, they can determine whether your location is secure and cost effective. If you need to find a better place to set up shop, your attorney will let you know before you have to learn the hard way.

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Lawyer on Retainer?

Retainer fees range from as low as $500 or as high as $5,000 or more, depending on the type of agreement you have and the work involved. The fee can be any amount that the attorney requests, and it is typically requested at the beginning of legal representation.

If you are retaining a lawyer for a specific purpose or case, retainer fees are often based on the lawyer’s hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours it is expected that your case will take. The amount for the time spent on the case will then be subtracted from your retainer. The retainer is basically an upfront payment and often will not cover the entire cost of the case.

You may also hire attorneys on retainer to ensure they will be available to you when you need them, and that they will put representing you before other opportunities that may arise. Many businesses pay retainer fees on a monthly or annual basis to keep the lawyer available whenever services are needed.

When Should I Hire a Lawyer on Retainer?

Retaining a business attorney from the very start can save valuable time, energy and money in order to help avoid litigation. Retaining an attorney from the beginning can help you focus on your business and not on legal questions.

A retained attorney can help avoid litigation by reviewing all your business contracts. Without the help of a skilled attorney, a business owner may not recognize any unfair or adverse provisions that may leave the business vulnerable to losses or liability, or even whether a location will help or hinder a business.

Discuss Your Legal Needs with a Skilled Houston Business Lawyer Today

Whether you should have a lawyer on retainer is just one of the questions The Weisblatt Law Firm LLC in Houston can answer for you.

For all your business needs, do not hesitate to contact us regarding our business law services and how can we work together. Please call (713) 666-1981 for a free consultation.

Houston Business Contracts Attorney

Attorney Andrew Weisblatt

Mr. Weisblatt has practiced continuously since becoming licensed in 1992 and has represented businesses ranging in size from one person start-up ventures to multi-national corporations employing hundreds of people in multiple countries. From 2005 through 2009 Mr. Weisblatt was in-house counsel and chief operating officer of a multi-national corporation in the steel products industry. That in-house position provided valuable insight into how businesses work and what they actually need from their lawyers – both in-house and outside counsel. Attorney Bio