Attorney Retainer Agreements

Over 20 years ago, I was looking out my office window in Crystal City watching people below in Crystal City park enjoy what I recall was a beautiful day.  A colleague standing nearby had a different perspective.  Peering through the same window at the people below, he shared this thought.  He didn’t know how people could even cross the street without having some knowledge of the law.  Yet some businesses, regardless of the size and resources, make important decisions that have legal ramifications without seeking the advice of competent legal counsel

Not all businesses can afford in-house counsel, and for those who can, many do without.  In-house counsel can best keep a finger on the pulse of the business intellectual property.  However, a business that has no in-house counsel can negotiate an arrangement with outside counsel to function in the capacity of in-house counsel

Under such an arrangement, outside counsel could be available on demand to answer general legal questions and provide legal counsel, which could be covered by a retainer.  The amount of the retainer could vary according to the services that outside counsel is expected to provide during the period that the retainer covers. 

Under a retainer arrangement, outside intellectual property (IP) counsel could also assist the business in managing the intellectual property portfolio and coordinate efforts with other counsel, including general counsel, domestic and foreign intellectual property counsel, and litigation counsel. 

Outside counsel could also participate in conference calls, including calls with general counsel, engineering directors and marketing directors, to discuss the status of patent and trademark matters and invoices.  Additionally, outside counsel could participate in periodic meetings to discuss general matters, develop intellectual property strategies, participate in product development sessions, attend tradeshows, coordinate patent watch services and more. 

In order to earn and maintain a relationship with a business, outside counsel may provide some of these services, and other services, free of charge.

If you have a question about retainer arrangements, askme at