A Lawyer In Making

Closing the Case

What They didn’t teach you at the Law School

Law School prepares you to think, write and research like a lawyer, but once you’re at the door of a law firm or a courtroom, there’s a whole new set of skills you need. The present series of articles aims to enrich a new lawyer with all these skills in order for him/her to excel.

Finally, the case has been successfully concluded and it’s time to close the case.

Closure of the case should be done according to the proper procedure. There should be a proper written policy which should be a collaborative effort of everyone who has any responsibility in implementing it. Also the policy once framed, should be explained to the entire office.

Here are certain tips for the closing the case:

• Review the final order and make sure everything which ought to be done has already been done. A case file should be closed only after the final action has been completed in the case and the final bill has been paid in full.

• A closing file memo is a great idea. This will provide a quick summary of your involvement in the case and create a permanent record of your representation. Your file label should adequately reflect this information.

• Prepare a Case Closing Letter for the client telling that the case is concluded and that they should contact you if they have any questions.

• Return all original documents such as birth certificates, marriage registration, divorce decree or bank statements, to the client.

• Organise the documents. Make sure you have printed all important emails related to the case and put them in the file.

• Scan all important documents such as court orders, certificates, Vakalatnama, important correspondence, etc. and save in a folder in your computer for future reference and appeals that may lie.

• Any unnecessary or duplicate copies of documents should be removed from the file.

• Use a “Closed File” stamp, colour-coding system or some other method for indicating closed matters.

• Understand your firm’s policy for storing files. You might need to pull the file out at some point, so it is important to know where to find it. In majority of cases all references to closed matters occur within a year of the closing date. So it is suggested that the file should be placed in the “closed/interim” section for a period of time.

• Establish a calendar for file destruction. Mark this date on the folder.

• Make sure the file closing date is reflected in the client/adverse party index for purposes of conflicts of interest.

• Develop a document retrieval system for saving briefs, pleadings, research and other information that might be useful in future cases.

• Keep an index of all closed files, indicating whether the file is located on-site or in an outside facility. Maintain records of all outside storage facilities.

• Refund all fees that have not been earned as well as advanced costs that have not been spent.

Whether the case is small or big, it’s always a great feeling to put it in its final resting place.

*Executive Editor, Lawyers Update; Director General, Universal Institute of  Legal Studies

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