This Week in Legal Ethics – File Transfer

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LegalEthicsBannerBy Melanie Hodges Neufeld

I mentioned last week  that the Law Society website has a Common Concerns section that provides information on ethical issues lawyer’s may face. Another area covered in this section is file transfer. Three common questions about file transfers are dealt with in this section:

  1. What documents on the file is the former client entitled to? Which documents belong to the client and which documents belong to the lawyers?
  2. What fees can the lawyer charge to transfer the file?
  3. If there are unpaid fees, does the lawyer have the right to assert a solicitor’s lien over the file?

Back in 2010, former Complaints Counsel, Jody Martin, and I co-presented a webinar on this topic: File Transfer on Termination of Retainer.  The presentation is still available on the CPD website if you’d like some further information. Please note that the Code of Conduct references are out of date. Other law societies also provide helpful guidance such as Ownership of Documents in Client’s File by the Law Society of BC.

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