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In re Rule 1.19- Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct

Supreme Court of Arkansas

December 15, 2016

IN RE RULE 1.19- ARKANSAS RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

          PER CURIAM.

         The Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct proposed a new rule to address issues related to the maintenance of a client's file and rights and obligations to materials contained in the file. By per curiam opinion dated June 2, 2016, we published the proposed rule for written comments due to the court by September 1, 2016. In re Proposed Rule 1.19- Arkansas Rules of Prof'l Conduct, 2016 Ark. 240 (per curiam).

         After reviewing and taking into consideration the comments submitted, we now adopt the proposed rule with some minor changes, effective on January 1, 2017. The new rule is published below.

         Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct

         Rule 1.19. Client Files - Definition, Retention & Destruction.

         (a) Client file - Definition and duty to provide copies of client-file documents to the client. The use of the term "client" refers to both current and former clients.

         (1) For purposes of these rules, the client file shall consist of any writings or property provided by the client to the lawyer and any documents, in paper or electronic format, that are the product of the lawyer's representation, including pleadings, correspondence, and other documents prepared or received by the lawyer in furtherance of the representation. Documents that have not been filed with a tribunal, delivered or served, or other documents drafted but unexecuted or undelivered that the client has explicitly paid for the drafting, creation, or obtaining thereof, including such items as transcripts, depositions, medical records, and reports of experts, shall be provided to the client as part of the file.

         (2) The following records are not included in the client file, even if they are maintained by the lawyer in association with the representation and the client file, and such records are not ones to which the client is entitled to review or receive a copy:

(A) The lawyer's work product, which includes the documents the lawyer used to reach an end product of the lawyer's representation, the lawyer's notes, and preliminary drafts of pleadings and legal instruments;
(B) Internal memoranda prepared by or for the lawyer;
(C) Legal research materials prepared by or for the lawyer and factual research materials, including investigative reports prepared by or for the lawyer for use in the representation, unless the material has been specifically paid for by the client or procured by the lawyer for the client's use;
(D) Documents such as internal conflict checks, firm assignments, notes regarding any ethics consultation, or records that might reveal the confidences of other clients.
(E) Items not included in the list of excluded items shall be considered to be part of the client file to which the client is entitled.

         (3) Upon the client's written request in any format, the lawyer shall surrender the client's original file or a copy of the file, in paper or electronic format, to the client. Upon written authorization of the client, the lawyer shall surrender such file to the client's new lawyer. The lawyer may deliver a statement for costs ...


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