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What Does a Lawyer - Client DWI Retainer Agreement Look Like? And, What Does it Mean?

At Gaynell Williams LLC, nearly all of the DWI clients are completely new to the process, as they have never been in a similar situation before.

What Does a Lawyer - Client DWI Retainer Agreement Look Like? And, What Does it Mean?
What Does a Lawyer - Client DWI Retainer Agreement Look Like? And, What Does it Mean?

Such clients, as they have never had to hire a lawyer before, have a lot of questions and concerns, especially about the retainer agreement they sign at the very beginning. “How do DWI or DUI attorneys get paid?”, “What costs does the retainer amount cover? “What do the additional costs mean?”, etc. are the most common questions we get.

To make the process a little easier to follow, we have here both our actual Retainer Agreement that we use to engage our professional legal services, as well as an explanation for what every provision stands for.

Let’s first take a look at our DWI Retainer Agreement:

DWI Lawyer-Client Retainer Agreement | New Orleans DWI Attorney

This is a Copy of The DWI Retainer Agreement that Gaynell Williams Law Uses for New DWI Clients


I, undersigned client (hereinafter referred to as “I,” “me” or the “Client”, do hereby retain and employ Gaynell Williams and Gaynell Williams, L.L.C. (hereinafter referred to as “Attorney”), as my Attorney to represent me in connection with the following matter:


1. ATTORNEY’S FEES. As compensation for legal services, I agree to pay my Attorney as follows:

Flat Fee

I understand that the flat fee for these legal services is ___ ____, which is due and payable before resolution of the case. The fee reflects not simply the number of hours which individual lawyers may devote to my representation, but also the experience, reputation, skill and efficiency of the attorneys, as well as the potential inability of the firm to accept other employment during the pendency of the representation. I understand that if the entire flat fee is not received by the resolution of the case, then this agreement is null and void. This agreement pertains to the representation through trial only. Any writ, appeal, new trial motion or any other kind of post-trial relief must be the subject of a new written fee agreement.

2. COSTS AND EXPENSES. In addition to paying Attorney’s fees, I agree to pay all costs and expenses in connection with Attorney’s handling of this matter. Costs and expenses shall be billed to me as they are incurred, and I hereby agree to promptly reimburse Attorney. If an advance deposit is being held by the Attorney, I agree to promptly reimburse the Attorney for any amount in excess of what is being held in advance. These costs may include (but are not limited to) the following: long-distance telephone charges, photocopying ($0.10 per page), postage, facsimile costs, Federal Express or other delivery charges, deposition fees, expert fees, subpoena costs, court costs, sheriff’s and service fees, travel expenses and investigation fees.

Advance required ____ Yes ____ No

I agree to advance __ for costs and expenses, which amount shall be deposited in Attorney’s trust account and shall be applied to costs and expenses as they accrue. Should this advance be exhausted, I agree to replenish the advance promptly upon Attorney’s request. If I fail to replenish the advance within ten (10) days of Attorney’s request, Attorney shall have, in addition to other rights, the right to withdraw as my Attorney.

3. NO GUARANTEE. I acknowledge that Attorney has made no promise or guarantee regarding the outcome of my legal matter. In fact, Attorney has advised me that litigation, in general, is risky, can take a long time, can be very costly and can be very frustrating. I further acknowledge that Attorney shall have the right to cancel this agreement and withdraw from this matter if, in Attorney’s professional opinion, the matter does not have merit, I do not have a reasonably good possibility of recovery, I refuse to follow the recommendations of Attorney, I fail to abide by the terms of this agreement, and/or if Attorney’s continued representation would result in a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

4. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION. In the event of any dispute or disagreement concerning this agreement, I agree to submit to arbitration by the Louisiana State Bar Association Legal Fee Dispute Resolution Program.

NOTICE: By initialing in the space below, you are agreeing to have any dispute arising out of the matters included in the “Alternative Dispute Resolution” provision decided by neutral binding arbitration as provided by Louisiana Arbitration Law; and you are giving up your right to have the dispute decided in a court or jury trial. By initialing in the space below, you are also giving up your rights to discovery and appeal. If you refuse to submit to arbitration after agreeing to this provision, you may be compelled to arbitrate under the authority of the Louisiana Arbitration Law.

I have read and understood the foregoing and agree to submit to neutral binding arbitration disputes arising out of the matters included in the “Alternative Dispute Resolution” provision.


Client’s Initials


Attorney’s Initials

5. ADDITIONAL TERMS. Attorney and Client agree to the following additional terms:

___________________________ _______________________________________________________

Failure to abide by the aforementioned schedule may result in the firm’s withdrawal from the matter. Should you terminate this agreement; the work of the undersigned attorney will be billed at a rate of $250.00 per hour, not to exceed the total amount of the fee charged for handling this matter.

6. FILE RETENTION. Our office will maintain your file for a minimum of five years after termination of representation, after which your file may be destroyed without further notice.

7. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. I have read this agreement in its entirety and I agree to and understand the terms and conditions set forth herein. I acknowledge that there are no other terms or oral agreements existing between Attorney and Client. This agreement may not be amended or modified in any way without the prior written consent of Attorney and Client.

This agreement is executed by me, the undersigned Client, on this ______ day of

_____________________, 2022.



The foregoing agreement is hereby accepted on this ______ day of

_____________________, 2022.



Elaboration of Various Contract Provisions:

Flat Fee

Let’s start with the Flat Fee provision. This simply means you will be charged a fixed price that will not change later. The amount that is designated at this time will remain the same during the whole of the representation. There will be no changes and no surprises. This amount shall reflect the amount of work that goes into preparing for your case and represents the expertise, experience, and reputation that Gaynell Williams Law brings to the table. The agreement also asks you to pay the entirety of the fee before the resolution of the case. When the retainer amount is paid, the amount is earned immediately.

In addition, it mentions that if there is a new trial motion, writ, or appeal of any kind, a new fee agreement would be drawn up. Two important points that you should know, are:

  • The designated fee is paid to the attorney, no matter what the ultimate outcome is.

  • This initial retainer agreement covers representation in the appropriate District Court only.

We are here only to advise on how to take a case further and provide you with options based on a meticulous review of all the evidence. The final decision to either plead guilty or proceed to trial is always going to be yours.

After a client has retained a lawyer, the client has several options. The client could either:

  • First, the lawyer could contact the district attorney and discuss the reasons why the case should be dropped and not go forward.

  • If the district attorney decides to charge the client, then the retained defense attorney could work with the district attorney to find an appropriate lesser charge that the one in which the client was arrested. Many times, clients choose to plead to the lesser included crime.

  • Regardless of the final charge by the district attorney, the client can always go to trial and seek to prove that the client is not guilty of the charged crime.

  • And the client is found guilty by a judge or jury, the client can always appeal the case to the Court of Appeal.

If the client decides to appeal after an adverse ruling before the district court, it will take a fresh retainer agreement and new legal fees. That is because the initial retainer agreement covers only the disposition of the case at the district court level. Similarly, if the case results in a mistrial, and the client is charged again, the client will also pay an additional fee because a second trial is a new procedure.

For a client who has been charged with a third offense DWI or later, there is jury selection which alone takes about half a day, and then there are witnesses, jury deliberations, and more which can make DWI trials last much longer. New trials and appeals entail preparing for the case all over again, which makes a new legal fee and a retainer agreement imperative.

Costs and Expenses

Like we said before, the initial retainer covers the attorney fee, irrespective of the fact whether you win, lose, or plead in a trial. But, a lot goes into preparing for a case. other costs include the hiring a private investigator, the payment of expert fees, courier or delivery charges, and travel expenses. These are additional costs and expenses which the retainer does not cover. These expenses are to be borne by the client.

Advance Required

This part of the provision in the agreement asks you whether or not you are to pay an advance to the attorney for the future costs and expenses as they accrue. It also expects you to reimburse the lawyer for any amount that is in excess of the money held in advance, within 10 days of the attorney’s request.

No Guarantee

Next, the agreement confirms in writing that the attorney makes no guarantees

about any potential outcome of your case. We can only promise to put in our best effort and work hard on your behalf to present your case the best we can, but we cannot promise a win. It is unethical for a lawyer to promise a result. While we only know one side of the story at the time of signing the retainer agreement, even after evaluating all of the State’s evidence, a DUI lawyer can’t guarantee either a win or a loss. There are too many uncertainties and other factors that can come into play. One can never tell what a judge or a jury will do, or we might encounter some new developments and be forced to change our strategy mid-way through the trial. Any number of things could happen to prevent a lawyer from making a prediction about the outcome.

But, it also means that our expertise and skills will come in handy if and when we have to deal with a surprise element. This is where our pledge to represent you to the best of our ability comes into practice. Through years of experience, we know that it is important to be thorough and comprehensive with our approach every time we take a case; still, our trial strategy takes the strengths and weaknesses of a case into consideration. Therefore, our strategy is always unique to every individual client and case.

Furthermore, we do not anticipate being fired by our clients and promise to do our best on your behalf while resolving any concerns you might have. But, it does happen that sometimes clients or lawyers go their separate ways. If you have an issue with our representation, we simply ask that you bring any concerns to our attention. In the event that you fail to abide by our advice or the terms of this agreement, amongst other things, we reserve the right to cancel this agreement at any point in time. If the agreement is terminated by the lawyer or by the client during the process, of course, there are instances where the client is entitled to a refund. The amount of the refund depends on when during the representation the contract was terminated.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Being careful comes naturally with being a lawyer. A client might have a disagreement with regard to any of the provisions in this agreement. And, no matter how strong our relationship becomes over the course of the litigation, these matters can turn ugly in no time. We obviously have first-hand experience of disputes being heard in courts, which means we know how long, expensive, and grueling this process can be. Arbitration, on the other hand, offers a more streamlined and less expensive means for resolving contractual disputes.

For this reason, we have included this arbitration clause in our retainer agreement. If we do fall into such disagreement, this provision calls for resolving the matter through arbitration as provided by Louisiana Arbitration Law. The agreement binds both parties to give up their rights to discovery and appeal, and submit the matter to the Louisiana State Bar Association Legal Fee Dispute Resolution Program.

Additional Terms

Under this clause, we mention in writing, any terms not already mentioned in the agreement, but that we agree upon during our consultation. The firm reserves the right to withdraw from representation if these terms are not adhered to. And, as we said before, we don’t anticipate being fired by our clients, and we are here to resolve all your doubts and answer your questions; but, if you decide to terminate the agreement, this provision informs you that the undersigned attorney would expect to be paid $250 for every hour of work they put in, not to exceed the total amount of the fee charged for handling this matter.

File Retention

There are various reasons why attorneys retain client files for a certain period of time after the resolution of the client matter. The documents might come to use in the future, by either the lawyer or the client. There have also been cases where clients have made claims of negligence and/or breach of contract against their lawyers, in which case a well-documented file may help the law firm to successfully defend such claims.

At Gaynell Williams LLC, we maintain your file for 5 years at a minimum. After 5 years, we have the right to destroy your file without giving any further notice.

Final Word

For those considering hiring Gaynell Williams. L.L.C. for a DWI case, we hope this review of our Retainer Agreement proves helpful. We understand that being arrested for DWI and trusting an attorney to represent you for the first time can be a difficult decision. But, with this article, we do hope that we were able to eliminate some of your apprehensions while showing you what you should expect from our retainer agreement.

Contact Us Today

Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.

This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may affect your legal rights.

© 2022 Gaynell Williams

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