|Question||Big Company paid $100,000 at the beginning of the year to a large law firm to retain its services should they be needed during the course of the year. The law firm specializes in real estate law and is considered the best firm in this field. Big Company feared that one of its competitors would engage the law firm. This would prevent Big Company from being able to use the firm’s services because of conflict-of-interest rules that preclude a firm from representing different clients with actual or potentially adverse legal interests. To prevent this, Big engaged the firm and paid the retainer fee. Occasionally, Big asked the firm to perform legal work in areas where Big’s in-house lawyers were not as well equipped. It is now December, and it is clear that a substantial amount of the initial retainer will not be used to pay for legal services rendered. The retainer agreement provides in this case that any unused amount shall be returned to Big, with interest, at year-end.
Big Company is a long-term client of yours. It has asked you to look into whether any of the retainer fee will be deductible. It wishes to have this advice before the beginning of next year when it will determine whether to pay another $100,000 retainer to the law firm for the year.
a. Do the Treasury regulations provide further guidance in this situation?
b. Do the Treasury regulations to refine or add to the initial research question?
c. Do the regulations adequately address the research question? If so, what are your conclusions, and on what are they based?