General Retainers

Modified on Thu, 07 Mar 2024 at 05:52 AM

This article explains what General Retainers are and how to use them.


NOTE: General Retainers do not work with the Quickbooks Online or Xero integrations.


Setting up General Retainers before connecting to QuickBooks will prevent the connection. 



Many firms require the ability to receive client funds prior to starting work (in the operating account in addition to the Trust Account). Actionstep’s General Retainer functionality makes receiving funds, paying invoices, transferring funds between matters, and refunding retainers simple yet customizable to suit the specific needs of your firm. 


Enabling the General Retainer Function

To enable the General Retainer function, go to Admin > Billing > General retainer and toggle the Enable button to On.  


Payment automation can be set to Automatic or Manual. 


You also need to enable the General Retainer function in the Matter Billing Options on the matter by going to your matter > Billing (calculator) > Matter Billing Options and scrolling down to the section General retainers 




Receiving funds into General Retainer

To receive funds into the General Retainer, click on the Global Create Button > Client Receipt

If you would like to pay existing invoices while receiving funds, check the boxes corresponding to the invoices you would like to pay. If not, leave all boxes unchecked. If the amount being received exceeds the amount that is allocated to invoices, you will see an info box prompting you to choose what you would like to do with those unallocated funds. Here, you can choose to allocate them to the retainer.



In the screenshot above, there is a matter AR balance of 1,740.00. However, 3,000.00 is being received. This leaves 1,260.00 that can be allocated to a General Retainer balance.

Finally, save to allocate the funds to the selected matter's General Retainer Balance.



Payment of Bills using General Retainers

Funds held in the General Retainer on a matter can be used to pay invoices for that matter.


Click on the Global Create Button > Retainers > Pay Invoice



This will take you to the New retainer invoice payment screen.

Choose the relevant Matter and then Amount to apply from the Available funds and click Save.




General Retainer Matter Transfers

Funds held in General Retainer can be transferred between matters to pay other bills for matters for the same client by selecting the transfer button on the General Retainer screen within a matter.


Click on the Global Create Button > Retainers > Transfer




Funds held in General Retainer for a matter can be transferred to other matters. To do this, select the "From matter" and enter the transfer amount. Next, select the matter to which you’d like to transfer the funds in the Transfer to column of the matter list. To distribute funds between multiple matters, select the +Add row button and select additional matters. Save to apply the transfer.

Retainer transfers can be viewed/edited/deleted from the General Retainer screen in a matter.



Refunding General Retainers

Sometimes a portion of the general retainer is unused, and you will want to reimburse the client.

Click on the Global Create Button > Retainers > Refund



This will take you to the Refund retainer screen.  Complete the required fields and click Save.



Retainer Replenishment

You can also enable the Retainer replenishment function by going to your matter > Billing (calculator) > Matter Billing Options and scrolling down to the section Retainer replenishment.



When this is enabled, you can set up a minimum balance on your general retainer which means that the customer must always have that minimum amount in their general retainer account for you to proceed with their matter. A top-up trigger amount can also be set for when you would like to request a top-up.

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