Guide to Retention and Destruction of Closed Client Files for Paralegals - Appendix 3

Dealing With File Contents When Closing the File

 The following are some suggestions with respect to dealing with the contents of the file when preparing a file for closing.[1]

Document

Client

Paralegal

  • Retainer Documents [Retainer Agreement, Client Instructions, Conflict of Interest, Acknowledgments, Initial Letter to the Client]
 

Previously given to the client

Keep

  • Client Documents Existing Prior to the Retainer
 

Return

Paralegal to determine whether to keep a copy in accordance with the paralegal firm’s File Retention Policy.

  • Documents Prepared by the Paralegal for the Client [e.g. letter, affidavit].
 

Return

Paralegal should keep a copy unless the document can be retrieved from another source Even where the document can be obtained from another source, the paralegal may wish to retain a copy if it is likely that the document will be required in the future.

  • Court Documents such as pleadings, legal memoranda, document books etc.
 

Provide the client with these documents or access to these documents in accordance with the caselaw

Paralegal should determine whether to keep a copy in accordance with the paralegal firm’s File Retention Policy

  • Drafts of Documents
 

Provide the client with these documents or access to these documents in accordance with law

Paralegal should keep a copy if the document confirms client instructions and if the paralegal reasonably believes that this might be an issue in the future.

  • Documents of the Opposing Party [Pleadings, document books etc.]
 

Provide the client with these documents or access to these documents in accordance with law

Paralegal should determine whether to keep a copy in accordance with the paralegal firm’s File Retention Policy.

  • Letters from Third Parties
 

Provide the client with these documents or access to these documents in accordance with law

Paralegal should keep a copy.

  • Letters to Third Parties
 

Provide the client with these documents or access to these documents in accordance with law

Paralegal should keep a copy.

  • Caselaw
 

Provide the client with these documents or access to these documents in accordance with law

Paralegal should keep a list of the cases.

  • Transcripts
 

Provide the client with these documents or access to these documents in accordance with law

Paralegal should determine whether to keep a copy in accordance with the paralegal firm’s File Retention Policy.

  • Experts’ Reports
 

Provide the client with these documents or access to these documents in accordance with law

Paralegal should determine whether to keep a copy in accordance with the paralegal firm’s File Retention Policy.

  • Client’s Property
 

Return

Paralegal should retain records as required by By-law 9.

  • Notes to the File, Inter-office Memoranda, Tape-recordings or notes of conversations
 
 

The paralegal should keep these if they document client instructions.

  • Time Entries/Dockets
 
 

Keep

  • Paralegal Firm’s Accounting Records Relating to Client Matter
 
 

Keep


1 When a paralegal transfers a file upon discharge or withdrawal from representation additional considerations apply. In this regard, subject to the paralegal’s right to a lien, the paralegal must deliver to or to the order of the client all papers and property to which the client is entitled and, subject to any applicable trust conditions, the paralegal must give the client all information that may be required in connection with the case or matter. In addition the paralegal must cooperate with the successor paralegal or lawyer so as to minimize expense and avoid prejudice to the client. Rule 3.08 of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct sets out the paralegal’s obligations in this regard.