Ethical Guidelines for Client Files CLE

Join me for a CLE on June 7, 2017 about OSB Formal Ethics Opinions 2016-191 – Client Property: Electronic-Only or “Paperless” Client Documents and 2017-192 – Client Property: Duplication Charges for Client Files, Production or Withholding of Client Files. Learn:

What are lawyers required to produce and when?

  • In some cases, lawyer notes and communications must be produced, in other instances they can be withheld: do you know the difference?
  • If you store data in proprietary law office software (e.g. in a docketing or practice management program), must you extract and convert the data for the client?
  • What circumstance might provoke disclosure of “confidential” information belonging to another client?
  • Can you refuse to deliver file material on the grounds that it is too burdensome or expensive to produce?
  • Is it possible to deliver less than the “entire client file” if the client consents?
  • Are you required to produce work product? Conflict information? Time and expense records? Reports about the client’s creditworthiness? Expert witness information? Metadata? Text messages?

Standards governing retention and storage of client files – Is it ethical to store client files electronically? Do any exceptions apply? What duties does a lawyer have when using electronic-only storage?

When to charge for locating, segregating, or duplicating file material – When you can (and can’t) pass costs on to the client, whether client originals can ever be destroyed, and your ethical responsibilities to the “impecunious client.”

Appreciate the difference between ethical duties and discoverability – The interplay of the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct vs. state and federal rules of civil procedure.

Throughout the program “best practice” tips will be shared.

Date/Time/Location

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time.  This is a live, online webinar. Watch from your desktop computer or mobile device. Connect to audio via telephone or computer/device speakers.

Who Should Attend?

Lawyers, office managers or administrators, staff – anyone interested in learning more about Oregon’s new formal ethics opinions, 2016-191 and 2017-192.

Does the Program Include Written Materials?

Yes.  Written materials will be distributed electronically to all registered attendees before the event.

Ask Questions/Participate in Live Polling

Questions are welcome during the live event.  Attendees are also encouraged to participate in live, anonymous polling.

Registration Fee

$25 – Visit the Upcoming CLE, click here, or choose the Register button below. Secure payment processing powered by Eventbrite. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Program materials included in the registration price.

Eventbrite - Ethical Guidelines for Client Files

MCLE Credits
1.5 Ethics MCLE Credits pending.

Can’t Attend?

Video and audio recordings of Ethical Guidelines for Client Files will be available to download along with the program materials following the June 7 CLE. Price: $25. Contact me for more information or visit my CLE on demand store after June 7.

All Rights Reserved [2017] Beverly Michaelis

The Year in Review – Top Posts in 2015

Thank you loyal readers!  As 2015 comes to a close, here is a look back at the year’s top posts:

Working Effectively – Time Management, Staffing

File Management – What to Keep, What Not to Keep

Marketing, Business Development, and the Attorney-Client Relationship

eCourt

Fees – Getting Paid, Finances, Credit Cards, Trust Accounting

Security

Technology – Macs, TECHSHOW, Office 2016, Windows 10, Paperless, and More

Potpourri

[All Rights Reserved 2015 – Beverly Michaelis]

50 Shades of Green: Building a Profitable Solo or Small Firm Practice

The OSB Solo and Small Firm Section is sponsoring 50 Shades of Green: Building a Profitable Solo or Small Firm Practice on October 30, 2015 at the Oregon State Bar Center in Tigard.

Topics include:

  • Meeting the challenges of a changing legal world
  • Marketing and business development ideas you can use
  • Business planning 101
  • The new equation for lawyer happiness: mobile + paperless + virtual
  • Getting the right things done
  • Increase your profits by spending wisely
  • Legal ethics: technology in law practice

Register at osbar.inreachce.com – search for SSFP15.

Cost: $60 for section members, $80 for non-members. Registration includes box lunch.  Social hour follows the CLE at approximately 4:25 p.m.

50 shades of Green CLE

 

Not Wired to go Paperless?

Is it possible we’re not wired to run a paperless law office?

There is no doubt that digital archiving is the way to go.  Done right, scanning closed client files is both convenient and cost effective.  But does it automatically follow that lawyers should adopt a completely paperless work flow for active files?

Goldy has a longer attention span than you

We already know that the lowly goldfish has a longer attention span than humans thanks to our increasingly digital lifestyle.  What about processing data?  Is our ability to absorb and retain information equivalent in the digital and paper worlds?  What does the science say?

This is your brain on paper [and it works better]

Evidence suggests that absorption, understanding, and retention suffer when we attempt to digest information digitally:

Consider this excerpt from Ferris Jabr, The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus ScreensScientific American [2013].

Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people’s attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.

If you are still with me: what does this mean for you and your law practice?

If you’ve gone completely paperless – accessing, reading, and digesting information digitally – and feel you are getting good results, why not continue?  You likely made some adaptations along the way that were perfectly natural and work well for you.  Keep up the good work!

For everyone else, the most optimal approach seems to be the following:

  1. Go paperless at the end of a file’s life cycle.  Scan your file.  Return original client documents.  Shred the paper file OR provide it to the client.  Only keep paper if required.  For a refresher on that subject, review our File Retention & Destruction Guidelines, available on the PLF website.
  2. During the course of a case, use paper whenever it works best for you: notes, correspondence, paper-based discovery, materials received from the client.
  3. Strive to keep information that you create or receive digitally in digital form (pleading documents, memos, emails).
  4. Whenever you need to print digital information for review and markup, don’t hesitate to do so.

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]

 

10 Year Paper Retention Requirement – Oregon eCourt Week

If you are a paperless practitioner who has embraced Oregon eCourt with open arms, beware. eCourt filers are required by rule to retain certain documents in their original paper form.  UTCR 21.120, effective May 1, 2014, provides:

“(1) Unless the court orders otherwise, if a filer electronically files an image of a document that contains the original signature of a person other than the filer, the filer must retain the document in its original paper form for 10 years.

(2) On reasonable notice, the filer must provide a paper copy of the original for inspection by another party, the clerk, or the court.”

See Chief Justice Order 14-012 dated March 31, 2014 adopting out-of-cycle amendments to the Uniform Trial Court Rules.

“Filer” means a person registered with the electronic filing system who submits a document for filing with the court.” UTCR 21.010(6).

Other Statutes and Rules May Require Retention of Original Paper Documents

Paperless practitioners should take note of other statutes or rules that require retention of original paper documents. Examples include the Affidavit of Custodian executed when a settlement agreement is reached on behalf of a minor (ORS 126.725(2)) and certain documents filed in US Bankruptcy Court (see Oregon Local Bankruptcy Court Rule 5005-4(e)). For more information, consult the PLF practice aids, File Retention and Destruction and Checklist for Scanning Client Files, available on the PLF Web site.

This is not an exhaustive list. Conduct your own appropriate legal research to identify other instances where original paper documents must (or should) be retained.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis