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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 102341
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Madam Esquire, How, how many years, is a California attorney

Customer Question

Dear Sir, Madam Esquire,
How long, how many years, is a California attorney required to keep a former client's file before destroying it?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

This depends on the type of case. While no California statute expressly governs client file retention, ethics opinions and accepted practice has worked out the following standards:

CRIMINAL CASE - life of client

JUVENILE DEPENDENCY CASE - "substantial period" if not life of client

PROBATE CASE - unclear, perhaps at least 5 years

TRUST CASE - unclear, perhaps duration of trust and at least 5 more years

GENERAL CIVIL - unclear, perhaps at least 5 years.

See more HERE and HERE.

NOTE that the above are subjective time frames. Because no specific rule exists (the closest official rule is the criminal case for life of the client), whether or not the attorney erred by disposing of the file would eventually be up to the Bar, the Court, or another authoritative body.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or replied positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!