Fixed Fee Retainer Agreement for the Slacker Set

Here’s the Deal

I, [Fill in the blank here, yep this is You!], hire [Our Law Firm Name] as my lawyers.

1. Unless you see your signature and my signature at the bottom of this deal, WE ARE NOT YOUR LAWYERS. Once you sign this and WE sign it, WE ARE YOUR LAWYERS. It’s pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many lawyers fuck this part up.

2. We’re not going to keep being your lawyers if you do something really crappy, like lie to us, hit one of us (even if “us” refers really to “me”), hit somebody else, lie about hitting somebody else, basically lie about anything. We will definitely DROP YOU LIKE A ROCK if you don’t pay us. I, I mean we, cannot emphasize that enough.

3. We won’t be your lawyers anymore if we decide we don’t want to be. This is called our “professional judgment,” and it comes in handy ALL THE TIME. It’s a lot different from amateur judgment. Think of it as “pro” level of judgment or even “pro plus.” Really good judgment. A plumber also has professional judgment, but you’re not asking for professional advice about toilets, though BTW, plumbers get paid more than me and get paid faster. Go Figure!

4. If you tell me something and your mom is not in the room or if no one else is in the room or if no one else is looking on as you are in Hangouts or on Facebook—or so long as you’re not sending me something by email or Twitter from your cubicle AT WORK (unless it’s a text on your own phone or on your own iPad, but not on your work’s WiFi!)—than I’ll treat things that you tell me as super duper secret. Actually, I’ll treat everything you tell me as if I’m in the NSA or CIA and you’re one of our undercover spies. EXCEPT I WOULD NEVER GIVE YOU UP, man. I’d only do that under extreme threat of death or the possibility of dismemberment or losing my hair. Though I would if a judge tells me I have to. Or if you try to use me for a Ponzi scheme or some other bullshit fraud like that. Don’t try it.

Here are some examples—and, as a lawyer (BUT NOT YOUR LAWYER UNTIL THIS DEAL IS SIGNED, REMEMBER!)—I am required to say “solely for illustration purposes only.” For example, if you tell me you think Gandhi was a dick, I won’t tell anyone you said that. Not even my wife or my boyfriend, as applicable. That’s hypothetical. Or if you said the person causing your legal problem deserves a swift kick in the nads, I won’t kick him/her in the nads AND, MOREOVER, I won’t even tell him/her you talked to me about nads.

5. We have to talk to the other side, which in this case is [name of jerk or asshole causing your problem or, if there is no jerk or asshole, the name of that nice person] or that person’s lawyer. If you don’t let me talk to these guys, then I’m basically talking to you and to myself. I can talk to myself A LOT, but it’s not very productive from a legal point-of-view and it can lead to a pretty hefty bill if I charge by the hour (more on that below). Basically, I can’t do my job if you won’t let me talk to the other side, so that’s a no go, senor/senorita.

IF YOU READ ANYTHING, READ THIS PART

6ish. I, [Your Name. Again, yep, a bit repetitive here but repeating things is the best way to make them totally and completely legal], will pay [my law firm name. Again, for emphasis and to sound impressive] this amount:

$______________________ through or for [ ] HINT: pick something that could happen or that I’m supposed to do. Could be the end of a drought, a famine, or a pestilential plague (all unlikely) or could be when we finish your project or resolve your problem (we give that a fifty-fifty chance, as everything) or it could be a specific date (I don’t like hard and fast dates though, so say “on or about” if you can). Let’s chat on Google and agree on something that goes here.

7. You can pay me by the hour, which means I will bill you for each one-tenth of an hour, which is EVERY SIX FRICKIN’ MINUTES! That’s a royal major hassle and would suck for both of us. But if you really want me to bill that way, I charge $350 million per hour. This comes into play if I finish your project or problem (or whatever we’ve agreed on up there in paragraph 6ish or so) and you just want to get more legal advice without paying for it. If you want more, we’ll need to write up another one of these here deals. Or charge you $350 million per hour. Your choice.

Ocho. [The full amount][The amount of $XXX.XX] must be paid before [My law Firm Name] will be your lawyers.

STOP! Here’s something kind of like fine print, except I think it’s important, so read it cuz it’s stuff that’s not included in the amount I just told you about up there. It’s the “extra” stuff. The nickels and dimes, if I may.

9. The regular price of using my brain as your lawyer does NOT include expenses and stuff like filing fees, deposition or transcript costs, paper clips, mileage, ink, witness fees, staples, medical equipment, reports or records (including vinyl), lightbulbs, expert witness fees, extra espresso shots, police records, private investigator fees, in-App purchases, etc., etc. You understand that you will be billed monthly for these “extra” expenses.

We didn’t change this next part. Sounds pretty officious and serious so we figured we’d leave it in:
10. You understand that [Firm Name] need not continue further with your legal work until satisfactory fee and expense arrangements have been made in writing and that [Firm Name] may discontinue representation and have the right to withdraw based on the nonpayment of legal fees or other charges.

Date: [Date]

________________________________
[Your PRINTED Name]

________________________________
[My Super Formal LAWYER PRINTED NAME] Plus Secret ID#:
[Address]
Telephone:  [Phone Number]
Facsimile:  [Fax Number] (HAHA, just joking!)
email:  [e-mail Address]
Twitter: @[TwitterHandle]

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C. Hank Peters ("Chank") is an attorney whose background includes a rural, small-town, solo practice in Minnesota. He uses his practice experience from the late 1970s to advise attorneys who want to establish a lean and client-focused legal practice. He is one of a few legal marketing attorneys online and remains the inspiration for the website Big Legal Brain.

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