Legal Question in Personal Injury in New York

In a hybrid agreement for a lawsuit, with a flat fee retainer and an additional contingency fee if case is successful, would an attorney put the retainer flat fee I give him, in a client trust account and he would withdraw it as earned or would he put the fee in his own account? Would any unused portion be returned to me at the end of the case? Is there a certain language that I should make sure is in the retainer to make sure it will be refundable? I appreciate any help and feedback. Thank you very much.

Asked on 4/25/13, 4:54 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys


Your agreement with your lawyer is at arms length and thus you can make every part of it explicitly conditional on partial stage completion to conclusion of the suit. Normally, your attorney should place the advance money in escrow and withdraw sums in different stages (similar to a construction contractor). Any unused portion should be returned to you but that also is dependent on the type of case and agreement as to payments in different stages. The most important factor is your trust in your attorney; your gut feeling and belief that he is fighting your battle to your satisfaction. Is that not the means and ends to every professional service agreement? How well do you know your attorney and was he refered to you by a trusted source?

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Answered on 4/25/13, 7:17 pm

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