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Are forms filed with USCIS on your behalf considered "work product" before your petition is granted?

San Antonio, TX |

Our attorney sent us documents to sign and when we looked over them we found many many errors (some small like typos and some big like questions left blank or filled in with incorrect answers). When we called about it he said that he doesnt review them until we sign and return them and then if he needs to he will just scratch something out and write in the correction. I find it a bit suspect if not just stupid to review the docs after we sign rather than before but our real concern is that he may not have actually reviewed them at all before filing. We asked him for a copy of what he sent to USCIS but told us that before our application is granted it is considered work product so he doesnt have to give us a copy. Are completed forms (i-485 etc) considered work product?

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Attorney answers 5

Posted

What I can tell you is, don't sign any documents with mistakes in them. Make the lawyer fix the mistakes before you sign anything. If he/she refuses, find a different attorney.

Irene Vaisman, Esq. 11 Broadway, Suite 615 New York, NY 10004 (646) 253-0516 This is not legal advice and a client attorney relationship is not created. For a free consultation call (646) 253-0516.

Posted

What a great question. In my opinion, once you have signed those forms, they can no longer be claimed as attorney work product. Most attorneys will provide a copy of the applications submitted to homeland security upon request. Those forms contain information you've sworn is true, so you should know what is in those forms before your interview. I've worked for several firms that use the same practice. The clients reviews the forms, makes changes, and then signs. You should only sign the forms once they are corrected. Good luck with your case!

Posted

Work product is a defense in a discovery request, it has nothing to do with you requesting a copy of your files. He may or may not be required by law to give you a copy, but you can easily get a copy by filing under the freedom of information act.

The above is intended only as general information, and does not constitute legal advice. You must speak with an attorney to discuss your individual case.

Posted

In my practice clients are free to make payments. I will not give them a copy of the forms or file the forms on their behalf until they have paid in full. In your case you would have made all payments - or the case would not have been filed - so I would have provided you with a copy of the forms and all attachments that were filed with the forms.

Bottom line: Completed forms are a work product. The attorney does not have to file them or give you a copy unless you have paid for them as set forth in your representation agreement. Sounds to me like you have met your obligation and you are entitled to a copy of what was filed.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much for your answer. One more follow up though, you said that completed forms are a work product. It is my understanding that attorneys are not required under ethical guidelines to give work product to clients upon request as they are required to provide a copy of their file. So because you said the I am entitled to a copy my question is, do they cease being defined as "work product" because they were filed, or because i have paid my fee in full? Thanks again and i promise this will be my last question:)

Asker

Posted

hey nevermind I found my answer:) The clearest pronouncements on these issues have been made by the courts of Texas. In Resolution Trust Corp. v. H---, the court concluded that entire contents of a client's file belong to the client, and that neither the attorney-client privilege nor work-product doctrines were applicable. Relying upon a simple but compelling principal-agent analysis, the court was particularly critical of the attorney's suggestion that the work-product doctrine permitted it to retain possession of certain documents : The work-product doctrine is equally inapplicable. The doctrine protects materials that are not covered by the attorney-client privilege but are prepared in anticipation of litigation and contain material revealing the attorney's thoughts or strategies. . . . None of the materials at issue here were prepared in anticipation of litigation, unless H--- claims that it created material in anticipation of litigation with its own client. Such a statement would be an admission of a breach of the fiduciary duty owed by H--- to Caprock, and it could hardly serve as a basis for this Court to allow H--- to prohibit Plaintiff from obtaining these documents. (Citations omitted.)

Posted

In general, I believe the Texas State Bar requires attorneys to provide clients with copies of their files. Not doing so is listed as one of the possible grounds for discipline on the State Bar's website. http://www.texasbar.com/Content/NavigationMenu/ForThePublic/ProblemswithanAttorney/File_a_Grievance/default.htm. As another responder stated, work product has nothing to do with this particular situation.

This post is intended as general information only. No information contained in this post should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information presented in this post does not form an attorney/client relationship. You should consult an attorney directly for your individual legal needs.