While state ethics rules prohibit lawyers from making payment agreements with clients for a “nonrefundable retainer fee,” an opinion from the New York City Bar Association says an arrangement for a flat, nonrefundable monthly fee is permissible if certain conditions are met.

The city bar’s Opinion 2015-2 cautions lawyers, however, that if they do charge a “reasonable minimum fee” to clients, they may only do so under Rule 1.5(d) of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct if the retainer agreement clearly defines, among other details, how the fees will be calculated and when a lawyer’s work reaches the point where the fee is nonrefundable.

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