Phone: 780.298.2577

The Usual Terms

agile, efficient, and creative legal research and writing support for Alberta's lawyers


What are the Usual Terms?

For the convenience of our clients, we make the usual terms of  our research and writing retainer available online. This allows Orion Legal Research to arrange new work with our clients without the time-consuming ritual of a drafting, sending and signing a new, hard-copy retainer letter.

Note that these terms were last updated on August 15th, 2017. If you are looking for an older version of the usual terms, please contact us for an archival copy. You will need to let us know when we worked for you to find the appropriate version of the usual terms.

The Usual Terms

0. Incorporation and Application of the Usual Terms

Occasionally Orion Legal Research and its clients will arrange for work informally, without using a traditional retainer or engagement letter, printed in hard copy and signed by both parties. Your request for work by telephone or by email implies agreement to incorporating these terms. We link to them in our emails to you, and will do our best to direct your attention to them and the important topics they cover. We of course cannot commit you to these terms by silence alone, so we request that you write to us to confirm that the usual terms are acceptable (or to ask questions if they are not).

When we agree to work for you by telephone or by email, these terms form part of that agreement unless something that contradicts them was explicitly agreed to, in which case the contradicted parts of these terms don't apply. Sometimes the usual terms will be incorporated to fill in gaps. For example, if we have discussed a flat fee for a particular project, but have not recited our usual policies on confidentiality and conflicts, then these terms provide those latter terms without changing the flat fee explicitly agreed-upon. Sometimes new work will be commissioned entirely on the usual terms, in which case these terms form the whole of our agreement.

These terms may be updated from time to time, but those changes will not change the terms of current work. If Orion Legal Research agrees to work for you under some or all of the usual terms, then the version of the usual terms published at the time we agreed to work are what govern our work for you.

1. Work Details

Normally Orion Legal Research will discuss certain basic parts of our work: a delivery deadline, a budget, fee or retainer, and a general description of the work product. This part of the usual terms will not often form part of our work for you, but in the event that some of these essential terms are not discussed, we will perform our work with the following in mind.

1.1. The Usual Fee

If no fee has been discussed and agreed upon, Orion Legal Research will bill hourly according to our fee schedule.

1.2. The Usual Budget

If no budget has been discussed and agreed upon,  Orion Legal Research will budget time as best we can, and evaluate our billing in accordance with the relevant rules of court, but will not "cap" fees. We strongly recommend that you discuss a budget with us when arranging for work.

1.3. The Usual Deadline

If no delivery deadline has been discussed and agreed upon, Orion Legal Research will do our best to deliver within 10 business days (two weeks).

1.4. The Usual Work and Product

In the very unlikely event that the particulars of the work and product have not been discussed and agreed-upon, Orion Legal Research will write to you describing what we intend to research and write on your behalf. We will assume time is of the essence and begin working according to that proposal as soon as is practicable. It will be up to you to clarify our proposal and instruct us accordingly if it will not meet your needs or expectations. Please keep in mind that we assist you, and do not usually represent your own client directly, and so will need strategic direction from you.

Please note as well that, unless specifically requested and agreed-upon, we will not file documents on your behalf or otherwise deliver or submit them to third parties, nor prepare hard-copy documents for submission or filing.

2. Materials We Need

Unless we have specifically requested certain documents, we generally request that you provide us with copies of:

  • Confirmation that you have complied with Law Society client identification rules for your client;
  • Pleadings for the matter we are assisting you with;
  • Applications and affidavits relevant to our work for you; and
  • Your own relevant research materials and drafts (to prevent duplicate work).

Where trust funds are involved we may need further information from you to comply with identification and verification rules.

Please exercise caution with sensitive documents. If restrictions on documents prohibit certain people from viewing them (for example, an expert’s report produced under Family Law Practice Note #7), we can delete and destroy, but cannot unsee.

3. Communication and Professional Responsibility

3.1. Office Hours

Our regular office hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., during which we are generally available by telephone and email. We can be reached after hours but please be advised we may choose to value bill for time spent on unexpected, after-hours telephone calls that we do not initiate.

3.2. Confidentiality and Conflicts

As our client, you are entitled to the same confidentiality with us that your clients expect of you. Before discussing research in detail we check for potential conflicts. If you are proposing work to us, do not include confidential information or documents before a conflict check is completed.

3.3. Communicating With and Representing your Client

While we are required to collect identifying information for your client, including their contact information, we are not retained by your client, or retained by you to represent your client. We do not typically communicate with or advise your client directly, but are happy to discuss our research in a meeting with you and your client. When we do so, we are advising you, and assisting your client as an outside consultant or expert, not as their counsel. We do not go on the record for, or act for, or represent, your client.

We may in some circumstances be available to act as your agent or as co-counsel for your client. Please discuss particulars with us if you would like this kind of work. If we have not expressly agreed to do so, we have not agreed to act as agent or co-counsel.

4. Fees, Disbursements and Billing

4.1. Billing and Budgeting

We will typically bill at the conclusion of our work, but we may interim bill prior to completion of work. Interim bills may issue when work-in-progress exceeds $500, or monthly when work takes place over more than a month.

Setting a budget sets mutual expectations about the depth and complexity of the final product. We always recommend that one be set. Please be advised we may go over a budget in order to effectively finish writing, note-up, and other tasks necessary for competent work. We typically do not take retainers for projects budgeted under $1,000 and unless a retainer is explicitly agreed to, we do not expect one under the usual terms.

4.2. Fees and Disbursements

We bill for our services by the hour unless a flat fee has been agreed to. Our Schedule of Fees and Disbursements is available online here, and this forms part of the usual terms. Please note that our fees are typically billed at $125.00 per hour. If you have questions or concerns about your account, please contact us.

You are responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses paid to third parties. Some common disbursements are also detailed on our Schedule of Fees and Disbursements. If an expected disbursement will be large we may instruct third parties to invoice you directly for them. Before incurring any large disbursement, we will discuss with you.

4.3. Payments

Orion Legal Research presently accepts payment by cash, cheque and electronic transfer. We regrettably cannot accept payments by debit card or credit card at this time. If payments by card would be preferable, please advise.

4.4. Outstanding Bills and Interest

Our accounts are due when we render them to you. If an account goes unpaid, interest accrues at a rate of 18% per year until the account is paid.

4.5. Recovering our Bills as Disbursements to Your Client, and as Costs Awards in Litigation.

If you intend to disburse the cost of research onto your own client, please discuss your billing preferences with us and we will do our best to accommodate them to assist you with your own timely billing. In litigation matters we are happy to provide information, at no cost, concerning recovering the cost of our bills as part of a costs award.

5. Frequently Asked Questions

Please consult our online F.A.Q.. These will help explain our role and some of these terms.