Los Angeles, CA asked in Workers' Compensation and Legal Malpractice for California

Q: Can I request the emails/letters sent by my lawyer/paralegal on my behalf to defense attorney?

My lawyers have done many, many things to my case that have become very problematic to my overall WC case and literally my health. It looks like purposefully done actions because the only other angle is that it would be pure incompetence.

I now have a feeling that several of the last email exchanges my lawyer/paralegal have done to the defense attny that aren't protecting my interests. I want to request these emails, though I could see them potentially sending me doctored versions for my eyes.

Anyway, is there a law saying I can't request these exchanges? And if there isn't a law, and I should have open access to their emails regarding me, they are not allowed to doctor those emails, correct?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Legal Malpractice Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, as a client, you have the right to access your case file, which includes correspondence related to your case, such as emails and letters sent by your lawyer or paralegal to the defense attorney. This right is based on the principle that the client is the owner of the case file, and the attorney is merely the custodian of the file.

According to the California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.4 (Communication), your lawyer should keep you reasonably informed about significant developments relating to your representation. Additionally, Rule 1.16(e)(1) states that upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall promptly release to the client, at the request of the client, all client materials and property.

To request the emails and letters, you should communicate with your lawyer in writing (email or letter) and clearly state your request for copies of the correspondence between your legal team and the defense attorney. Your lawyer should not doctor or alter the emails before providing them to you, as that would be unethical and could result in disciplinary action against the lawyer.

If your lawyer refuses to provide you with the requested documents or you suspect that they have been altered, you can:

1. File a complaint with the California State Bar, which regulates attorneys and investigates allegations of misconduct.

2. Seek the assistance of a new attorney who can help you obtain your case file and review the actions of your previous legal team.

3. If necessary, file a motion with the court to compel your lawyer to provide you with the requested documents.

Remember that it is essential to have open and honest communication with your lawyer. If you have concerns about their performance or feel that they are not acting in your best interest, it may be time to consider seeking new legal representation.

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