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Madam Esquire, How, how many years, is a California attorney…

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Dear Sir, Madam Esquire, How long...
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: 2 years ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 7 minutes by:
3/2/2016
Lawyer: Ely, Counselor at Law replied 2 years ago
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 103,583
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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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.

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Lawyer: Ely, Counselor at Law replied 2 years 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!
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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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