Does the client own the file at the lawyer’s office?
The original file of the client is the property of the client and not the lawyer. The file includes pleadings, discovery, correspondence, memorandum, research and even the attorney’s notes. In fact, the Supreme Court of Texas Committee on Professional Ethics ruled in only limited circumstances can an attorney refuse to provide a client with his notes and legal memos. The only time a lawyer may refuse to produce his work product is when: 1) the lawyer has a lien on the file for money owed; 2) a court orders the lawyer to withhold the notes; 3) disclosure of the information would violate a duty owed to a third person; or 4) disclosure would run the risk of causing serious harm to the client. These limited reasons typically do not apply during the course of representation by a lawyer to a client. Sometimes, lawyers will only provide a client a copy of the file or worse will not include all items of the client’s file. If this happens, you need an experienced lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. The failure to turn over client property can result in a civil lawsuit for conversion and breach of fiduciary duty.
If your lawyer wants to keep a copy of the client’s file for his records, the copy must be made at the expense of the firm, not the client. If you have any questions concerning your rights, or the retrieval of your file, please contact our office.
Contact Our Firm
If you have questions regarding legal malpractice, we encourage you to contact Nowak & Stauch, PLLC by completing the contact form located on this website. We accept most cases on a contingent fee basis, and offer services in English and Spanish.