THE WORD “RETAINER” IS AMBIGUOUS EVEN AMONG THE LEGALLY SOPHISTICATED
The word “retainer” has a variety of meanings, including a client's authorization for the attorney to act in matter, a fee paid simply to have the attorney available when the client needs legal help, a lump-sum fee paid to engage the lawyer at the outset of the matter, and an advance payment for work to be performed in the future. Black's Law Dictionary 1341-42 (8th ed. 2004). Indeed,
Over the years, attorneys have used the term “retainer” in so many conflicting senses that it should be banished from the legal vocabulary. . . . If some primordial urge drives you to use the term “retainer,” at least explain what you mean in terms that both you and the client will understand.
Id. (quoting Mortimer D. Schwartz & Richard C. Wydick, Problems in Legal Ethics 100, 101 (2d ed. 1988)).
SOURCE: DALLAS COURT OF APPEALS - 05-10-00725-CV – 4/27/12