Ex-Files: Retain or Return a Former Client's Files?

December 17, 2015

By: Devika Kewalramani and Robert B. McFarlane

Moses & Singer Client Alert

It is well-established law in New York that client files belong to the client, with minor exceptions. If a law firm is terminated by its client by its client during a litigation, is the firm required to turn the litigation file over to the client without being paid accrued counsel fees and the cost of assembling and delivering the file? The First Department recently ruled that a law firm had a retaining lien on the file, that the commericial Division erred in requiring the firm to release the litigation file without first being assured of payment, and that the client was responsible for the cost of assembling and delivering the file.

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