Skip to main content

In California, can an attorney keep my file when he/she no longer represents me? Attorney Client Privilege Confidential files

Concord, CA |

I consulted an attorney firm to review my case for wrongful termination, retaliation, etc.. during in person meeting attorney requested copies of some important documents I have (timeline that clearly explains case, proofs for case, recommendations, claim filed at company about not equal opportunity employment etc..) After wasting months on this process that was a waste of time and money, a month of wait to get feedback, and attorney not responding to my calls, nor giving me the follow up attorney promised during in person consultation (not free and very expensive for what she did). Attorney called me recently and told me that they were not going to take my case which did not make any sense considering that attorney who reviewed my case told me that employment cases were not her expertise!

In summary, this lawyer did not want to represent me. Can this lawyer keep copies she made of my confidential files during consultation? Since this lawyer is not longer working with me she should not have the right to keep my confidential documents for my case. I'm going to find another lawyer. I found this online which is one of the main reasons why an attorney should not keep copies of documents. "An attorney may be required to provide the client with a copy of his/her file in order to avoid damaging the client's legal position in the underlying matter for which the attorney was retained."

Attorney Answers 3


  1. I'm not sure what your question is. An attorney has an obligation to maintain your file for several years. An attorney also has the obligation to make your file available to you upon reasonable request. So if you want your file, you can get it. I'm not sure if that answers your question.

    This response is based on limited information. It is not meant as and does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.


  2. Yes the lawyer can keep a copy of your documents. She is required to provide you with a copy of your file, but she may keep a file for her own purposes. If you already have a copy of all of the documents, then there would be nothing new for her to provide to you at that point.

    Lawyers have an obligation of confidentiality. It does not matter whether the lawyer turns out to be a friend with someone, she is required to keep your secrets.

    I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation, social security disability and legal malpractice. Nothing I write on Avvo is legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in anything I write on Avvo without retaining your own lawyer in your state. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.


  3. No, an attorney cannot keep your files. They belong to you. The lawyer is, however, entitled to keep a copy of your file for his/her records.

Professional ethics topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics