Record Retention Kit

Below is a compilation of articles and ethics opinions from the State Bar of Michigan's Standing Committees on Professional and Judicial Ethics concerning a lawyer's duty to safe keep the property of clients and third parties.

Ethics Opinions included

  • R-5 Duty to Establish Retention Plan
  • R-7 Trust Account Guidelines
  • R-12 Notice to Clients, Microfilm
  • R-19 Client Request for Copy of File
  • RI-86 Availability of Files to Client
  • RI-100 Retirement
  • RI-109 Damage to Files
  • RI-178 Lawyer Referral Services
  • RI-240 Disposition of Older Files

State Bar Ethics Opinions

The State Bar Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics is authorized to provide written opinions in response to a request from a member of the State Bar concerning the member's own prospective conduct, or in response to a judicial officer concerning an ethics question arising in a proceeding pending before the judicial officer. The committee is not authorized to provide opinions on past conduct or on questions of law.

Informal opinions are drafted by individual committee members and are circulated to the committee for comment before release to the inquirer; the opinions are denoted "RI" to indicate informal opinions interpreting the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct. Formal opinions have interest or wide reaching implications for the entire Bar, and are approved by the State Bar Board of Commissioners prior to release; the opinions are denoted "R" to indicate formal opinions interpreting the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.

State Bar Ethics Opinions have no force and effect of law and may not be relied upon as an absolute defense to a charge of ethical misconduct.

Additional References

  • How to Handle Requests for Copies , Dawn M. Evans
  • Disposition of Client Files , Catherine M. O'Connell
  • Focus on Professional Responsibility, Ownership of Lawyers File About Client Representations—Who Gets the Original? Who Pays for the Copies?, Vol. 79 No. 8 Michigan Bar Journal 1062 (Aug. 2000)
  • Focus on Professional Responsibility, Break Away Lawyers, Vol. 77 No. 10 Michigan Bar Journal 1078 (Oct. 1998)
  • Ethics Spotlight, Closing a Law Practice, Vol. 71 No. 10 Michigan Bar Journal 1056 (Oct. 1992)
  • Ethics Spotlight, Time Periods for Record Retention Plans, Vol. 70 No. 10 Michigan Bar Journal 146 (Oct. 1991).
  • Ethics Spotlight, Client's Request for Return of Representation File, Vol. 70 No. 11 Michigan Bar Journal 1196 (Nov. 1991).
  • Ethics Spotlight, Withholding Client File Until Payment of Bill is Made, Vol. 68 No. 5 Michigan Bar Journal 360 (May 1989).
  • When the Client Doesn't Pay the Bill, Vol. 68 No. 9 Michigan Bar Journal 824 (Sept. 1989).
  • Record Retention Overview, Vol. 74 No. 11 Michigan Bar Journal (Nov. 1995).

Notice to Lawyers:
State Bar of Michigan ethics opinions are advisory and non-binding in nature. This index is a complete historical catalog. Some of the listed ethics opinions, though not expressly superseded in subsequent ethics opinions, may be nonetheless outmoded or no longer sound due to subsequent changes in case law, statutes, or court rules. Practitioners are urged to thoroughly research all sources to determine the current validity of any given ethics opinion.