My attorney won't give me my file because I owe him money – can he do this?

11 Dec My attorney won't give me my file because I owe him money – can he do this?

In Texas, a client’s file belongs to the client NOT the attorney -no matter what the reason may be.  If you do not pay your attorney in Texas, the attorney does not have a lien on your file unlike other states who do.  If your attorney refuses to give you your file, then you should contact the Texas State Bar at 1-800-932-1900 or 1-800-204-2222 ext. 1790 or http://www.texasbar.com

If you owe your attorney money, that is a separate matter and has no bearing on you obtaining your file from the attorney.

Over my years of practice, I have had clients come to me where their previous attorney has refused to give them their file.  Usually a phone call or letter from me has gotten the file released.   Some attorneys may give you a copy of your file  – that is not acceptable or permitted.  An attorney may keep a copy of your file (and should keep a copy of your file) – just not the original file.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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