Procedure for Withdrawing Services (continued)
When the retainer is terminated, you must deliver to the client, or to the new lawyer, the contents of the file that belong to the client, and at no charge (assuming no outstanding accounts exist). It is appropriate to charge for photocopying where the contents have already been provided to the client. However, note that a lawyer should not enforce a lien if to do so would prejudice materially a client’s position in an uncompleted matter. Confirm in writing the client's permission for you to communicate with new counsel, and transfer the file to him or her.
If there is a dispute as to ownership of the contents of the client's file, take time to research the law to determine which documents you are entitled to keep.
Take time to consult document retention requirements (see the module on File Retention) to ensure you are keeping all documents that you are required to retain (e.g., trust account records). It is very important to also keep documents that might help you defend against an action for professional misconduct or negligence. Note important limitation periods for such actions.