Legal Definition of Retain, Retainer

To engage the services of an attorney or counselor to manage a cause, at which time it is usual to give him a fee, called the retaining fee or retainer.6 min read

What Is a Retainer?

To engage the services of an attorney or counselor to manage a cause, at which time it is usual to give him a fee, called the retaining fee or retainer. The act by which the attorney is authorized to act in the case is called a retainer. Although depending on the laws and rules of particular jurisdictions, it is not indispensable that the retainer should be in writing, unless required by the other side, it is very expedient. It is therefore recommended, particularly when the client is a stranger, to require from him a written retainer, signed by himself; and, in order to avoid the insinuation that it was obtained by contrivance, it should be witnessed by one or more respectable persons.

What To Do If There Are Several Plaintiffs?

When there are several plaintiffs, it should be signed by all and not by one for himself and the others, especially if they are trustees or assignees of a bankrupt or insolvent. The retainer should also state whether it be given for a general or a qualified authority. There is an implied contract on the part of an attorney who has been retained, that he will use due diligence in the course of legal proceedings, but it is not an undertaking to recover a judgment. An attorney is bound to act with the most scrupulous honor, he ought to disclose to his client if he has any adverse retainer which may affect his judgment, or his client's interest; but the concealment of the fact does not necessarily imply fraud.

The act of withholding what one has in one's own hands by virtue of some right.

An executor or administrator is entitled to retain in certain cases, for a debt due to him by the estate of a testator or intestate.

It is proposed to inquire,

1. Who may retain.

2. Against whom.

3. On what claims.

4. What amount may be retained.

Who Can Retain?

In inquiring who may retain, it is natural to consider, 1st. Those cases where there is but one executor or administrator. 2d, Where there are several, and one of them only has a claim against the estate of the deceased.

- 1. A sole executor may retain in those cases where, if the debt had been due to a stranger, such stranger might have sued the executor and recovered judgment; or where the executor might, in the due administration of the estate, have paid the same. He may, therefore, retain a debt due to himself or to himself in right of another or to another in trust for him; the debt may be retained when administration is committed to another for the use of the creditor who is a lunatic or an infant entitled to administration. An executor may retain if he be the executor of the first testator; but an executor of one of the executors of the first testator, the other executor, being still living, is not an executor of the first testator, and therefore cannot retain. An executor may retain before he has proved the will, and if he die after having intermeddled with the goods of the testator and before probate, his executor has the same power.