You’d think there would be a straightforward answer to this question, but unfortunately there’s no clear rule under California law. Here’s a look at the ways this issue is approached and how to best protect yourself. Continue reading
Attorneys maintain files on their clients’ cases with documents (and sometimes other property) that clients have provided in connection with those cases. These files have to be returned to the client, at a client’s request, when the attorney’s “employment has terminated,” subject to “any protective order or nondisclosure agreement.” Cal Rules of Prof Cond 3–700(D)(1). Given this rule, it’s imperative that attorneys establish an office policy on the retention and disposition (including destruction) of client files, and notify clients of this policy. Continue reading
Case files routinely contain documents (and sometimes other property) that clients have provided. The California Rules of Professional Conduct require that an attorney return these items, at a client’s request, when the attorney’s “employment has terminated” (subject to “any protective order or nondisclosure agreement”). Cal Rules of Prof Cond 3–700(D)(1). Here’s sample language that you can use in a letter to a client at the end of the case. Continue reading
You’ve started a law practice and the clients are beginning to arrive. How will you organize your client files? Your first thought may be to use an alphabetical system by client name. Big mistake. Instead, stick to numbers. Continue reading
Not sure where to begin on your trial notebook? Start with your office files. Continue reading
The files you keep on your clients’ cases usually include documents (and sometimes other property) that your clients have given to you in connection with their cases. What happens to all this stuff when you’re no longer on the case? The answer: You’ve got to give it back. Continue reading
Most attorneys are aware that there are rules about retaining and disposing of client files, but not enough of them have a clear policy that follows these rules and communicate the policy to their clients. It’s when the representation is over that the policy kicks in. Continue reading
Being effective at trial requires the highest level of organization and preparation. Any disorganization or unpreparedness will show, and it can undermine a case. The best time to start organizing trial materials is when setting up the files at the inception of the case.