Attorney’s Lien: The right of a lawyer to hold a client’s property until the client pays for legal services provided.
In general, a lien is a security interest used by a creditor to ensure payment by a debtor for money owed. Since an attorney is titled to payment for services performed, the attorney has a claim on a client’s property until compensation is duly made.
A 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.
A retaining lien is more general in its scope. It extends to all of a client’s property that an attorney might come into possession of during the course of a lawsuit. Until an attorney is compensated for services, he or she has a claim or interest in such property.