In Maryland, it is common practice for the law firm to draft a retainer agreement that states the client is signing it “under seal”. The phrase “witness my hand and seal” or “signed and sealed” are the typical operative phrases.
What does it mean to sign a retainer agreement “under seal”? It extends the time for the law firm to sue the client for fees owed from 3-years to 12-years.
I have taken the position on behalf of clients that signing “under seal” does not extend the statute of limitations to 12-years, unless the law firm explained in writing to the client that signing “under seal” extends the statute of limitations. To obtain the client’s informed consent, the Retainer Agreement should contain the following language: “By signing this Agreement under seal, the law firm will have 12-years to enforce this Agreement against you, instead of the normal 3-year statute of limitations for breach of contract”.