Retainer Terms and Billing Policies 2019


This retainer is a legal agreement setting out your obligations, our obligations and a budget. You and us may rely on this agreement if there is a later dispute over billing or scope of services. While it is written in non legal language we suggest that it be shown to someone (besides us) who is a lawyer or has who has experience dealing with lawyers. The agreement incorporates by reference the general terms set out below as they may be amended from time to time.


Unless indicated otherwise, fees do not include HST (currently 13%) and disbursements. Typically, these items (excluding special disbursements noted below) combined add about 25% over the fees quoted. Fees are based on time spent and our insurance risk. Unless otherwise specified, hourly rates are currently $350 partners time, $250 associates time and $150 staff time.


Disbursements are of three types. 1) out of pocket costs (couriers, bank charges, court fees etc.) incurred on your behalf 2) overhead costs related to your file (photocopies, software expenses, mileage etc.) and 3) special disbursements that because of their amount need to be separately set out in the retainer (expert witnesses, title insurance, capacity assessments etc.).

We do not measure every mile, photocopy, scan, long distance charge, stamp and cheque in a file. You agree that we may make reasonable estimates of these disbursements.


We do not bill at regular intervals. We bill on your request or at significant times in your file.


You may dispute your bill with us directly. Typical disputes are that the account exceeds a written quote, that the results achieved were disappointing, that the time docketed was excessive or inaccurate, or I do not wish to pay for other reasons. If such disputes are brought to our attention within 30 days of our account, we will respond. We will want to meet you and show you every email, letter and document that we created or responded to. We will review the retainer contract or email that we sent as it was amended throughout the file to insure the billing rate, and budget is being honoured. If we feel we were wrong, we will correct our mistake and possibly offer even a further reduction for prompt payment. Otherwise we will increase our account for any further time spent arguing with you and for having our account assessed (see below).

You can assess our account within 30 days of receiving your final account. Thereafter, we can do so and you cannot without leave (permission) in advance from a Judge. An assessment usually involves one or more visits to a government paid “assessment officer” with authority to resolve the amount of the account and issue a court judgment for amounts found owing. You should review the provisions of the Solicitors Act. The forms used for a court assessment may be found here.

Overhead Disbursements Rates

In house copies, faxes, scans $0.25 / page

Mileage $0.40 / kilometre travelled

Divorcemate (family law software) $125.00

Will Software $33.00

Estate Software $200.00

ACT civil litigation software $200.00

Fast Company Incorporation / minute book software $125.00

Internal binding and or tabbing $10/ item

Quicklaw legal research software $10/ item

Credit card Payments – 2% of any payments to offset bank charges

File Storage Policy

We keep physical files for 15 years offsite with Records XPress, a Canadian professional storage company. Original wills are kept on site in a fire resistant cabinet. Electronic files are permanently stored externally in Dropbox and internally on a NAS server. We do not charge back these costs. We may refuse to store inactive company minute books / seals, inactive files of unusual size or weight and physical items. In the event you require us to produce files at a later time, we typically charge $100 per file request against our time and retrieval cost, payable in advance.

Missed Appointments Policy

If we miss an appointment on less than 12 hours emailed or voicemail notice, the appointment or rescheduled appointment will not be billed to the client. If you miss an appointment on less than 12 hours emailed or voicemail notice, we will charge $100. Missed means half an hour or more late. Charges are waived for LAO or socially assisted clients however we consider this a breach of your retainer agreement and may advise that we are terminating our services.

Budgets, Quotes, Estimates, Typical Costs

All figures exclude hst and disbursements unless otherwise indicated.

Budgets and Quotes will not be exceeded unless they are varied in writing by us. Budgets are based on the progress of a file or lawsuit and Quotes are for a distinct service. Note that if if requested or necessary extra work outside the listed services occurs, we may charge extra.

Estimates are what we expect you will be charged based on completion of our intake form and any further requested information.

Typical Costs are what clients with similar situations to yours have been charged in the past. This figure includes disbursements and hst. These may vary but this is the easiest and quickest number we can provide.

Unless otherwise stated in writing, all services are based on Hourly Fee Rates as follows:

Partner $350

Associate $250

Clerical $150

Limitation Periods

In the time between your first contact with our firm and your payment of our retainer and your receipt of an email confirming we are acting for you, we are NOT retained. Time limits for initiating actions (“limitation periods”) or other deadlines may have passed that extinguish your legal rights. Tough luck. Don’t blame us. A summary of Ontario limitation periods is at this link

Complaints and Compliments and Copyright

We value client feedback on how we could have or can in future serve you better. We value compliments. The meter is off (you are not billed) for these discussions. On rare occasions clients have posted complaints about us on or contacted our professional regulator, Law Society of Ontario or our insurer . If this is done, your retainer is at an end and when we become aware of this, you will be asked to pay any outstanding balance and pick up your file. On other occasions, clients post or write thank you and compliments about us.

You agree that any comments, complaints or compliments about are services may be used by us for marketing purposes with any personal identifiers removed.

Despite paying for our services, we maintain the copyright in any precedents, drafting, or other works provided to you. You have a licence to use these for your matter only and they may not be distributed or reproduced without our express consent.

Joint Retainers

In any retainer with more than one client or where the term “joint retainer” is used, you acknowledge that we have additional obligations that affect our duties of confidentiality and loyalty to you found at the following link