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Retainer Agreement or Engagement Letter

When Required

Lawyers and paralegals are required to document the terms of their engagement with a client when acting in a limited scope retainer or providing legal services on a contingency fee basis. For more information, see the Law Society’s Limited Scope Retainer and Contingency Fees pages.

When Recommended

Lawyers and paralegals should consider using a retainer agreement or engagement letter for every matter. Confirming the essential terms of the engagement with the client in writing manages client expectations and reduces the risk of misunderstanding between you and your client.

Some of the content of a retainer agreement or engagement letter will depend on the client and the nature of the matter. However, lawyers and paralegals may wish to start from a precedent or use a checklist to ensure their agreement or letter contains essential terms. In all cases, the language and meaning of the retainer agreement or engagement letter should be clear and written in plain language.

To avoid disputes later, lawyers and paralegals should also consider

  • reviewing the terms of the engagement with the client
  • providing the client with an opportunity to ask questions
  • addressing each client’s questions or concerns, and
  • confirming the client’s understanding of the scope and terms of the engagement.

Sample Documents

Related Resources


Last updated: May 28, 2021

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