September 28, 2018 Top Story

Court Clarifies Duty to Provide Entire Client File on Termination

Ethics rule requires attorneys to provide more than end product to former clients

Catherine M. Chiccine

A recent court ruling has cemented the majority view that attorneys have an ethical duty to turn over their entire file to clients upon termination of representation, including privileged communications and confidential settlement agreements.

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The ruling rejects an interpretation of  ABA Model Rule 1.16 that requires only the return of end product to former clients. ABA Section of Litigation leaders caution attorneys to be aware of their jurisdiction’s interpretation of Rule 1.16 to avoid sanctions.

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