Attorney’s Lien Law and Legal Definition

Attorney’s lien refers to the right of a lawyer to hold a client's property or money until payment has been made for legal aid and advice given. The property may include business files, official documents, and money awarded by a court.

Lien refers to the legal right a person has on another’s property if an obligation is not discharged. As an attorney is entitled to payment for services performed, the attorney has a claim on a client's property until compensation is duly made. The right to an attorney's lien may come from the common law or from specific state statutes.

An attorney can exercise a charging lien or a retaining lien. Charging lien is an attorney's right to a portion of the judgment that was won for the client through professional services. It is a specific lien and only covers a lawyer's claim on money obtained in a particular action. Retaining lien is more general in scope and it allows an attorney to keep a client's papers until the client has paid for the attorney's services. However, attorney's retaining lien is not recognized in some states.