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How do I get my file from my former attorney even if I have a right to it?

Cheyenne, OK |
Filed under: Professional ethics

I found on your site that even though I have an outstanding bill to my attorney's and dispute the charges, I still have the right to my file. How do I get the file from my attorney?

Attorney Answers 2


Write a letter and send it certified. Issues you’ve raised are important but a resolution requires specific review of all of the facts and circumstances, such that it is nearly impossible, if not entirely impossible, for an attorney to give you a useful legal analysis based solely on a summary posting on an internet site. I appreciate your concern. I know this is not the answer that you are looking for, but I believe that you will need to obtain a consultation with an attorney to further explore the specific circumstances behind your question.

I truly wish you the best.

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This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. Laws vary widely from state to state. You should rely only on the advice given to you during a personal consultation by a local attorney who is thoroughly familiar with state laws and the area of practice in which your concern lies. In the event that you have follow up questions, please post them directly on this site. This does not create an attorney-client relationship and the attorney does not read unsolicited emails. Thank You.

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Generally speaking, you are entitled to your file. There is some language in the Oklahoma rules that an attorney may hold papers for security for a fee (see para. 9 below). I would send a registered letter asking for it and if no response, then you may want to address your concerns to the Oklahoma Bar Association.

Good Luck
Oklahoma Statutes Citationized
Title 5. Attorneys and the State Bar
Chapter 1 - Attorneys and Counselors
Appendix 3-A - Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct
Article Client-Lawyer Relationship
Section Rule 1.16 - Declining or Terminating Representation
Cite as: O.S. §, __ __


Olahoma Rules of Professional Conduct
Chapter 1, App. 3-A
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Rule 1.16. Declining or Terminating Representation

(a) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if:

(1) the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;
(2) the lawyer's physical or mental condition materially impairs the lawyer's ability to represent the client; or
(3) the lawyer is discharged.

(b) Except as stated in paragraph (c), a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if:

(1) withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client;
(2) the client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer's services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent;
(3) the client has used the lawyer's services to perpetrate a crime or fraud;
(4) the client insists upon taking action that the lawyer considers repugnant or with which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement;
(5) the client fails substantially to fulfill an obligation to the lawyer regarding the lawyer's services and has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled;
(6) the representation will result in an unreasonable financial burden on the lawyer or has been rendered unreasonably difficult by the client; or
(7) other good cause for withdrawal exists.

(c) A lawyer must comply with applicable law requiring notice to or permission of a tribunal when terminating a representation. When ordered to do so by a tribunal, a lawyer shall continue representation notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation.

(d) Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee or expenses that has not been earned or incurred. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law.

[1] A lawyer should not accept representation in a matter unless it can be performed competently, promptly, without improper conflict of interest and to completion. Ordinarily, a representation in a matter is completed when the agreed-upon assistance has been concluded. See Rules 1.2(c) and 6.5. See also Rule 1.3, Comment [4].

Mandatory Withdrawal
[2] A lawyer ordinarily must decline or withdraw from representation if the client demands that the lawyer engage in conduct that is illegal or violates the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law. The lawyer is not obliged to decline or withdraw simply because the client suggests such a course of conduct; a client may make such a suggestion in the hope that a lawyer will not be constrained by a professional obligation.

[3] When a lawyer has been appointed to represent a client, withdrawal ordinarily requires approval of the appointing authority. See also Rule 6.2. Similarly, court approval or notice to

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