LEO: Files - Termination/Withdrawal of LE Op. 1357
Files - Termination/Withdrawal of Representation: Refusing to
Allow Client to Ascertain the Content of His File.
June 7, 1990
The Committee has considered the facts you have presented and is of the
opinion that an attorney's refusal to allow a former client to ascertain
the contents of that client's file is presumptively prejudicial and
violative of DR:2-108(D) which requires a lawyer to take reasonable
steps for the continued protection of a client's interests upon
termination of representation. It is the Committee's view that the
client's former attorney is obligated to explain and furnish a list of the
contents of the file indicating which items involve unpaid fees and which
items are the client's property, i.e., either provided originally by the
client or for which no fees are owing. (See LE Op. 1101 (September 29,
1989); LE Op. 1124 (September 27, 1989, August 12, 1988); and LE Op.
1176 (December 19, 1988))
The Committee further believes that a determination as to any prejudice
to the client which actually results is a factual question requiring a
decision by a finder of fact. Since the Committee is not constituted to
resolve questions of fact, such determination is beyond its purview.
Committee Opinion June 7, 1990