These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
 Back to main menu

  Print This Leo
LEO NumTopicsSummary

14-Ownership of Files and Attorney Lien Issues

48-Criminal Defense Lawyers

A court-appointed lawyer represented a criminal defendant. The lawyer sent the defendant copies of all pleadings and correspondence, and also kept a diary during the representation. The client later charged ineffective assistance of counsel, and sought copies of all pleadings and correspondence, as well as the lawyer's diary. The lawyer must provide copies of the entire file, including the diary (unless it contained information relating to other representations). The lawyer could not condition release of the documents on payment for copying charges. The Bar declined to determine whether the original or a copy of the documents must be surrendered, deeming it a legal question. [Rule 1.16(e) now governs a lawyer's duty to provide files to a former client.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn