Informal Opinion Number: 970182

Rules: 1.15;1.16(d); 1.22
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Safekeeping Property
Summary: file of prospective client

Reference Note:  Rule 4-1.15 was amended, effective July 1, 2013.  This opinion is based on the rule in effect prior to that date.  Please see the July 1, 2013 version of Rule 4-1.15 and 4-1.22.

Reference Note: Effective July 1, 2016, subdivision 4-1.22 of Rule 4 was repealed and a new subdivision 4-1.22 adopted in lieu thereof. This opinion is based on Rule 4 in effect prior to that date.

QUESTION: X was seeking representation for pending litigation involving a personal injury claim. X gave Attorney the file to review. Attorney reviewed the file and decided not to take X´s case. Attorney notified X that Attorney was not interested and requested that X make arrangements to pick up the file. X failed to respond to Attorney’s request. It has been more than a month and the file is still at Attorney´s office while the litigation is ongoing. What may Attorney do with the file? ANSWER: Attorney may return X´s file by personal delivery or by a mail or delivery service which has a tracking system. Attorney may not destroy X´s file. Attorney may make a copy at Attorney´s own expense for Attorney´s protection.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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