Release of Client's File
Attorney A has completed a domestic case in which the mother and father sought custody of minor children. Client C has requested that Attorney A turn over to the client the entire file exclusive of work product. Part of the file includes home studies prepared by relevant Department of Social Services. The Department of Social Services was not involved in the case except to perform home studies at the request of the court upon the suggestion of one or both attorneys. At least one of the two home studies is stamped with a statement that the home study is confidential and for court use only. Client C has specifically requested copies of the two home studies in the case.
May Attorney A ethically release the home study to Client C at Client C's request?
Yes, unless the judge orders otherwise. DR 2-110(A) (2) and EC 2-32 require a discharged lawyer to turn over to the client all papers and property to which the client is entitled. While some reports or studies prepared by the Department of Social Services may be confidential by law, home studies done simply at the request of the court in a private custody case do not appear to be made confidential by any statute. In the absence of a court order or statute making such a report confidential, the attorney should release these studies to his client since they are not the work product of the attorney and would certainly be relevant and helpful to any future proceedings in which the client a represented by another attorney or by himself. See CPR 3.