Q. Where does my Retainer Deposit go when I hire a family law attorney?
A. Family Law lawyers are required to place all unearned fees into a State
Bar approved Attorney Client Trust Account.
California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 4-100.
This is because the deposit does not belong to the attorney, it belongs
to the client. It is only after fees are earned or costs are expended
that the attorney may remove that amount of money from their trust account.
Some lawyers do not maintain or use their trust accounts, and some will
take the money upon retention as though they have earned it. This can
result in discipline against the lawyer.
The importance of ensuring that you attorney follows State Bar practices
cannot be overstated. Do not hire a lawyer that does not maintain a trust
account. One good reason for this is that if you ever terminate that attorney's
employment, you want to know that the money he or she has not earned is
available to be returned to you at once.
Here's an article concerning things you might consider in choosing
and retaining a family law or divorce attorney.