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TO RETAIN, practice. To engage the services of an attorney or counsellor to
manage a cause, at which time it is usual to give him a fee, called the
retaining fee. The act by which the attorney is authorized to act in the
case is called a retainer.
2. Although it is not indispensable that the retainer should be in writing, unless required by the other side, it is very expedient. It is therefore recommended, particularly when the client is a stranger, to require from him a written retainer, signed by himself; and, in order to avoid the insinuation that it was obtained by contrivance, it should be witnessed by one or more respectable persons. When there are several plaintiffs, it should be signed by all and not by one for himself and the others, especially if they are trustees or assignees of a bankrupt or insolvent. The retainer should also state whether it be given for a general or a qualified authority. Vide the form of a retainer in 3 Chit. Pr. 116, note m.
3. There is an implied contract on the part of an attorney who has been retained, that he will use due diligence in the course of legal proceedings, but it is not an undertaking to recover a judgment. Wright, R. 446. An attorney is bound to act with the most scrupulous honor, he ought to disclose to his client if he has any adverse retainer which may affect his judgment, or his client's interest; but the concealment of the fact does not necessarily imply fraud. 3 Mason's R. 305; 2 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 139.