Skip to main content

As a client, am I entitled to my legal "file"?

San Francisco, CA |

After enduring a long winded legal issue that eventually went to court, I was curious as to whether I'm entitled to ask for my legal file. By file, I mean the actual binder my attorney used to reference various photos and materials the day of court. In reviewing my legal bills, I see I was charged for the compilation of this binder, copies, etc. I have all my original copies of important documents, but have not seen all the info. presented by our adversary and would like to have this info handy in the event I want to report the business on consumer website and they attempt to sue for defamation and I need a civil law atty to handle things from that point on.... Am I out of line in requesting this material? I understand client files are to be kept for 7 years in most cases.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


The client file belongs to you. Feel free to request it. Your attorney may request you sign an acknowledgment of receipt.

I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference

Donna Michael-Hall Bolton

Donna Michael-Hall Bolton


Most often, your attorney will make a copy for you.


Yes. The California Rules of Professional Conduct require an attorney to return to a client all papers and property to which the client is entitled. The complete original file belongs to the client and the attorney may copy the file at his or her own expense.

There is no legal requirement, however, that the attorney keep client litigation files for 7 years.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


Absolutely. The file is yours and you have a right to it upon the end of your case, or the end of the representation by the attorney. Make a written request. Put a reasonable time limit for its preparation for you to pick it up. If the attorney does not provide it to you within a reasonable time, go to the California State Bar website and issue a complaint against the attorney.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

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