Copying Costs of Client Files, Papers and Property
Client files, papers and property, whether printed or electronically stored, shall include:
1. All papers and property provided by the client to the lawyer.
2. All pleadings, motions, discovery, memorandums, and other litigation materials which have been executed and served or filed regardless of whether the client has paid the lawyer for drafting and serving and/or filing the document(s).
3. All correspondence regardless of whether the client has paid the lawyer for drafting or sending the correspondence.
4. All items for which the lawyer has advanced costs and expenses regardless of whether the client has reimbursed the lawyer for the costs and expenses including depositions, expert opinions and statements, business records, witness statements, and other materials which may have evidentiary value.
Client files, papers and property, whether printed or electronically stored, shall not include:
1. Pleadings, discovery, motion papers, memoranda and correspondence which have been drafted, but not sent or served if the client has not paid for legal services in drafting or creating the documents.
2. In nonlitigation settings, client files, papers and property shall not include drafted but unexecuted estate plans, title opinions, articles of incorporation, contracts, partnership agreements, or any other unexecuted document which does not otherwise have legal effect, where the client has not paid the lawyer for the services in drafting the document(s).
A lawyer who has withdrawn from representation or has been discharged from representation, may charge a former client for the costs of copying or electronically retrieving the client's files, papers and property only if the client has, prior to termination of the lawyer's services, agreed in writing to such a charge. Such copying charges must be reasonable. Copying charges which substantially exceed the charges of a commercial copy service are normally unreasonable.
A lawyer may not condition the return of client files, papers and property on payment of copying costs. Nor may the lawyer condition return of client files, papers or property upon payment of the lawyer's fee. See Rule 1.16(g), Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.
A lawyer may withhold documents not constituting client files, papers and property until the outstanding fee is paid unless the client's interests will be substantially prejudiced without the documents. Such circumstances shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, expiration of a statute of limitations or some other litigation imposed deadline. A lawyer who withholds documents not constituting client files, papers or property for nonpayment of fees may not assert a claim against the client for the fees incurred in preparing or creating the withheld document(s).
|Adopted:||June 15, 1989.|
|Amended:||January 22, 2010.|