Is it worth it to pay for an hourly retainer?

We don’t take cases unless, in our estimation, you will get a settlement that will more than compensate you for the fees that you pay us. Indeed, under many employment laws, your employer is required to pay most, if not all, of your expense if you win at trial. (The “fee shifting” in employment and civil rights cases is different from almost all other forms of litigation. Win your contract dispute or divorce, and you still have to pay your own lawyer.)
Still, it does happen that people end up underwater. They spend a lot in attorney fees and lose, or they end up ahead, but not enough to make the whole ordeal worth it. Where that line is – what is valuable to you – varies from person to person. For some, it’s a straight cost-benefit exercise. You spend some to get some. If you spend a lot, and get a little, it’s a loss. For others, intangibles are more important. It’s worth it to see their weasel of a boss be forced to sit and answer questions for hours in a deposition.
Where you fall in that spectrum is something only you can know.