Legal Definition and Related Resources of Retainer

Meaning of Retainer

In the law relating to administration of estates , the term denotes the common law right of an executor or administrator who is also a creditor of the deceased to retain as much of the estate as is sufficient to pay the debt, in preference to all other creditors of equal degree. Also, the term denotes the duty of an executor or administrator to hold back from the share of a legatee any amount of debt owed to the deceased by the legatee. The term also has the meaning of an advance payment of a fee or part thereof which a client pays to an attorney when he retains the attorney to act for him. Any fee paid to engage any professional advisor to give advice , or to secure a prior claim upon his services in case of need, and thus is not limited to lawyers fees. See Irwin v Young, 90 S. E.2d 22, 212 Ga. 1.

Retainer Alternative Definition

The act of withholding what one has in one’s own hands, by virtue of some right. See “Administrator;” “Executor;” “Lien.” In Practice. The act of a client by which he engages an attorney or counsellor to manage a cause, either by prosecuting it, when he is plaintiff, or defending it, when he is defendant. 200 111. 353. The word is also used to denote the fee which the client pays his attorney when he retains him to act for him, and thereby prevents him from acting for his adversary. 200 111. 353; 38 Kan. 668. In English practice, a much more formal retainer is usually required than in America. Thus it is said by Chitty (3i Prac. 116, note [m]), that, although 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. 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. See 9 Wheat. (U. S.) 738, 830; 6 Johns. (N. Y.) 34, 296; 11 Johns. (N. Y.) 464; 1 N. H. 23; 28 N. H. 302; 7 Har. & J. (Md.) 275; 27 Miss. 567.

Retainer Legal Definition

The fee which the client pays when he/she retains an attorney.

Synonyms of Retainer


  • anhabo
  • compensation
  • employment fee
  • engaging fee
  • fee contingent on future legal services
  • fee paid to secure legal services
  • income
  • payment
  • professional fee
  • recompense
  • remuneration
  • retaining fee Associated Concepts: attorney’s retainer

Related Entries of Retainer in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Retainer in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Retainer in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Retainer in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Retainer in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

Related Legal Terms

You might be also interested in these legal terms:

Mentioned in these terms

Retainer Of Debts, Right Of Retainer.


You might be interested in these references tools:

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Retainer in the Dictionary Retainer in our legal dictionaries
Browse the Legal Thesaurus Find synonyms and related words of Retainer
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Related topics Retainer in the World Encyclopedia of Law


This definition of Retainer is based on the The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary . This entry needs to be proofread.

Vocabularies (Semantic Web Information)


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Sitemap Index Sitemap Index, including Taxonomies The URI of Retainer (more about URIs)


See Also

  • Law Dictionaries.
  • Executors and Administrators
  • M
    eaning of Retainer in the U.S. Legal System

    Definition of Retainer published by the National Association for Court Management: Act of the client in employing the attorney or counsel, and also denotes the fee which the client pays when he or she retains the attorney to act for them.




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