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Is it common practice for a lawyer to charge a client for their files copied and then sent to another lawyer?

Dallas, TX |

We have withdrawn the service of our former attorney because of wrongdoing and excessive fees and hired another attorney. The other attorney has sent us a bill for the copies made. Is this common practice to do this when you change attorney's and the files are sent to another attorney? We were never informed that we would be billed for these copies by our former attorney so you can imagine the shock when we received a bill for almost $600.00.

Attorney Answers 2


Many attorneys include a provision in their retainer agreement that you will pay for copying charges, but when it comes to returning the file of a former client, the copy is for the attorney's own use (since they are required to return the file to you). While the retainer agreement may state that you are responsible for the charges, most attorneys would not hold you to it. I would ask them to waive it. If they are withholding your file awaiting payment, then they may be violating your state's ethical rules.

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We are currently in a dispute with this attorney after finding out that they never filed documents with the court and never served the notices we were told were being served. We retained a different attorney and then got this bill for these copies of files that they sent to the other attorney. Funny thing is the invoice they want us to pay is from the company that made the copies and they want us to make the check out to the other company even though it is billed to the law firm.


There are many attorney (most) that would not charge you for a variety of reasons, mainly to be decent and avoid headaches, help clients, etc.

There are others that may have in their RETAINER AGREEMENT a provision which allows for such charges.

You own the records, so they attorney must give them to you, and in most states cannot hold for payment

As the attorney in writing to kindly waive the fee for copying and see what is said

If your case involved the attorney retrieving records on your behalf it is customary to ask for the costs associated with those records back. Since the charge is very large I would assume that part of the cost is record retrieval expense being passed along

Good luck

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