Illinois State Bar Association Opinion 12-06

ISBA Professional Conduct Advisory Opinion No. 12-06

Topics: Client Files; Law Firms

Digest of the ISBA:

A lawyer must maintain records that identify the name and last known address of each client, and reflect whether the client’s representation is active or concluded, for an indefinite period of time. A lawyer must keep complete records of trust account funds and other property of clients or third parties held by the lawyer and must preserve such records for at least seven years after termination of the representation. A lawyer must also maintain all financial records related to the lawyer’s practice for not less than seven years. For other materials, if appropriate steps are taken to return or preserve actual client property or items with intrinsic value, then it is generally permissible for a legal services program to dispose of routine case file materials five years after case closing. Other considerations, such as administrative expense and the six-year Illinois statute of repose, suggest a general retention period for most lawyers of at least seven years. Any method of disposal must protect the confidentiality of client information.”


Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4, 1.6, 1.15, and 1.16;

ISBA Professional Conduct Advisory Opinion 94-13;

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 769;

735 ILCS 5/13-214.3(c);

Restatement Third, The Law Governing Lawyers § 46 (2000);

Arizona Ethics Opinion 08-02 (December 2008);

West Virginia Ethics Opinion 2002-01 (March 2002).


The full text is available at…