Partner A is recent to the private practice of law, as opposed to government or in-house practice.
So he came to me asking how to do a retainer agreement for a new client he landed. A big company wants us to get a work visa for a prospective employee.
A: How should I do the retainer agreement?
Fed: I would make sure to define who the client is. Is it the sponsoring company or the worker? Whichever way, get both to sign off on a retainer defining to whom our duty runs.
A: That sounds needlessly complicated. My friend the immigration lawyer says he's never done it that way.
Fed: That's what I've got. Take it or leave it.
Four days later.
A: That worker just told me some bad stuff that will keep him from getting his worker visa. And would probably make the company not want to hire him any more. He told me to be sure not to tell the company.
Fed: Not a problem.
Fed: No. That's why we are so careful with the retainer agreement. Just remind him that the retainer he signed says the company is our client, not him.
Fed: Oh, you wrote it so he is the client?
Fed: You did neither.
A: No. It seemed needlessly complicated. And my friend said he never did it. So I just did a standard one with the company.
Fed: This is the friend with the immigration clinic in the turn-of-the-century walk-up in the garment district.
Fed: So now we have a retainer agreement with the company, and a duty to inform it of information, but you've interviewed the worker in an attorney-client fashion, and he probably not unreasonably thinks we are his attorney, and he's instructed us not to reveal information.
A: More or less. It's my theory that you jinxed it.
Fed: What did you do at Major Defense Contractor? Slow down the turbines with your head?
A: It's never like this on TV.
Fed: Except the part now, where I kick you very sharply between the legs.
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