In Maryland, there is a 3-year statute of limitations to sue for breach of contract. See Courts & Judicial Article 5-101. Many law firms in Maryland extend the time to sue their clients for legal fees to 12-years by having the client sign their Retainer Agreement under “seal”. See Courts & Judicial Article 5-102(a)(5) (creating a 12-year statue of limitations for contracts signed under seal).
The operational language, found above the clients’ signature line, creating the 12-year statute of limitation typically states “witness my hand and seal”, “signed and sealed”, or the more formal “I agree to the foregoing and set my hand and seal on this 4th day of July 2017”.
The deceptive part is that the operational language itself does not explain that the law firm has extended its time to sue the client from 3-years to 12-years. Nor have I ever seen Retainer Agreement in Maryland that explains to the client the significance of a signing the document under seal.
Note that the clients’ execution of a Retainer Agreement under seal does not extend the clients’ statute of limitations to sue the lawyer, unless the lawyer also signs the document under seal.