• Dr. Giugi Carminati, Esq.

E-Case Management: Anatomy of a Client File


Do all your electronic client files look the same? No. Are they all organized the same? They should be. Can all client files, regardless of practice area, look the same? No. While I would be happy to come and look under the hood of your electronic organization (really, I would) you can begin to tackle the messy universe of client file management by having a clear idea of what pieces of documentation are standard in your particular cases. In this short piece, we will use a Colorado family law case to guide you through a client file template.


Here is what it looks like:


Casefile: This is where final documents exist. A final document is a document that has either been received from the other side, stamped by a court, or sent to an external party. The Casefile is the outside facing collection of documents. There are no drafts, no unfinished documents, no "nearly perfect" items. This is where if you find a letter dated November 12, 1999, it was sent on November 12, 1999. Within the Casefile, the following basic folders should appear:

  • Fee Agreement

  • Correspondence

  • Pleadings (Complaints, Answers, Returns of Service)

  • Motions

  • Orders

  • Notices

  • Disclosures

  • Discovery Requests Sent

  • Discovery Requests Received

  • Discovery Responses Sent

  • Mediation

  • Subpoena

  • Sworn Financial Statements and Financial Disclosures

  • Trial

Workfile: This is the law firm's work area. This folder contains drafts, works in progress, document repositories, and legal research. The folders will be a little different because their purpose is a little different:

  • Correspondence

  • Pleadings (Complaints, Answers, Returns of Service)

  • Motions

  • Orders

  • Notices

  • Disclosures

  • Discovery Requests Sent

  • Discovery Responses Sent

  • Mediation

  • Subpoena

  • Hearings

  • Sworn Financial Statements and Financial Disclosures

  • Legal Research and Attorney Notes

  • Trial

You can work with subfolders, but this will give your case an initial structure. Notice the absence of a folder called Miscellaneous. Don't make one. Don't even think of creating one, ever again. It is the kiss of death of case organization.


Document Productions: This folder should have a number of standard subfolders, as follows:

  • Client Document Productions

  • Opposing Party Document Productions

  • Third-Party Document Productions

Client Documents: This folder is the "Document Dump." This is where documents received from the client get thrown into when they first arrived, waiting to be processed into the client file. For more on this, check out our inprocessing article. The subfolders here will vary from case to case. What the subfolders should have, though, is the date of receipt of documents so you and your staff can keep track of what was received when.


If your firm does not have a standard client file, make one. When a new case comes in, copy that tree structure into the new client file and begin from there.

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