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There are no specific rules, and a lot will depend on the type of file. Some types of file will be kept for longer than others.
Most firms would consider that files of all sorts should be retained for at least 6 years, as this is the priXXXXX XXXXXmitation period for a claim being brought against the solicitor.
There is a Law Society Practice Note here, which contains guidance to solicitors on how long files should be retained - http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/documents/downloads/practicenote_file_retention.pdf