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My personal injury case in California was settled out of court can my lawyer charge me for my file (copy)

Temecula, CA |
Attorney answers 8

Posted

The answer is probably covered by your written retainer agreement which you should have received. The file belongs to you as the client unless you agreed to pay a fee to copy for the attorney.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Posted

Correct. Although the attorney must release client papers and property to the client at no cost, the attorney may enter into an agreement providing that the client will pay for the cost of making a copy of such papers and property for the attorney to retain in his or her own files. See Rule 3-700, Discussion (stating that rule 3-700(D) is “not intended to prohibit a member from making, at the member's own expense, and retaining copies of papers released to the client, nor to prohibit a claim for the recovery of the member’s expense in any subsequent legal proceeding”).

Scott J. Corwin

Scott J. Corwin

Posted

No you cannot be charged, the file is yours.

Posted

Check your fee agreement as it should contain your agreement with respect to the file.

Free Consultation. 1-877-258-3083. Serving the Nation. Only 29% Fee Deducted.

Scott J. Corwin

Scott J. Corwin

Posted

True, but the original file is the property of the client.

Posted

Look to your fee agreement for the answer.

Free Consultation. 1-800-330-2274

Scott J. Corwin

Scott J. Corwin

Posted

Yes, review it.

Posted

The file is yours. However, whether the lawyer can charge you a copying fee depends upon your retainer agreement.

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

Scott J. Corwin

Scott J. Corwin

Posted

The original file belongs to the client.

Posted

The file is yours and he must release it immediately to you and he cannot charge you for a copy, although he may make a copy for himself at HIS cost. To "hold your file hostage" is a violation of the state Bar rules of professional conduct (Rule 3-700 (D)) which is written as follows:

(D) Papers, Property, and Fees.
A member whose employment has terminated shall:
(1) Subject to any protective order or non-disclosure agreement, promptly release to the client, at the request of the client, all the client papers and property. "Client papers and property" includes correspondence, pleadings, deposition transcripts, exhibits, physical evidence, expert's reports, and other items reasonably necessary to the client's representation, whether the client has paid for them or not;"

You may have already paid him for the cost of it under the "costs" provision of your retainer agreement anyhow. Cite the Rules section to him and you'll get your file today.

Scott J. Corwin

Scott J. Corwin

Posted

Good answer

Posted

The attorney has a legal duty to provide your file to you free of charge no matter what the retainer says. If the attorney wants to copy it is at his own expense. This is a basic rule pursuant to the California Rules of Professional Responsibility that every attorney should know and abide by.

No attorney/client relationship is or shall be created by this response on Avvo to non-clients of The Law Offices of Norman Gregory Fernandez.

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Posted

A discharged attorney who wants to keep a copy of the file normally must bear the copying expense, absent an agreement to the contrary with the client. See, e.g., San Diego County Bar Formal Opinion Number 1984-3; Bar Association of San Francisco Formal Opinion Number 1984-1; and San Diego County Bar Formal Opinion Number 1977-3. However, where copying is done to enable the attorney to fulfill his or her obligations as attorney of record until the client and successor counsel relieve the attorney of those duties by filing the substitution, the attorney ethically may seek reimbursement from the client for those copying costs. However, the attorney cannot withhold the file until the copying costs are paid.

Scott J. Corwin

Scott J. Corwin

Posted

Norman is correct

Posted

I don't practice in California but in Missouri and Kansas the file is the property of the client and must be given to the client if they ask. The lawyer is entitled to keep a copy.

Scott J. Corwin

Scott J. Corwin

Posted

Brian is correct on this one!

Posted

No.

Scott J. Corwin

Scott J. Corwin

Posted

Short and to the point.

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