Client File Retention Calculator
Understanding how long your clients’ files should be retained is an important and practical step in deciding to operate a paperless law firm. Please follow the prompts and answer the questions to better understand the ethical requirements of physical file retention in North Carolina. For more information about your ethical obligations please read RPC 209, RPC 234, or contact ethics counsel.
Calculate how long you need to keep your client’s file as set forth in NC Ethics Opinion RPC 209.
Do you have consent from the client to destroy their file?
With the consent of the client, a closed file may be destroyed at any time. RPC 209 Be mindful of original documents with legal significance or practice areas involving estate matters, incompetents, minors, post-conviction relief, and appeals.
Has it been more than six years since the conclusion of representation?
After six years, a lawyer is not required to notify the client that the file will be destroyed. However, be sure to review the file for:
- Property that belongs to the client
- Original documents with legal significance (e.g. original wills, titles, or stock certificates)
- Other documents or information that may be essential to any matters for which the statute of limitations has not ru
Absent the client’s consent to disposal of a file, a closed file must be retained for a minimum of six years after the conclusion of the representation. RPC 209
Does the client’s matter involve minors, incompetents, estate matters, continuing/outstanding payments, or possible post-conviction issues that would require retaining the file for more than six years?
NC Ethics Opinion RPC 209 states that “six years is the minimum period for retaining a closed client file.” It is worth noting that certain cases or issues may require the retention of a closed file for more than six years.