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Page Title: Legal Assistance Office Reading File
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advice, must be clearly entered on the attorney’s notes. The best time to do this is immediately after the action. If the case is resolved in one visit (or perhaps one consultation  and  a  follow-up  visit  to  execute  a document), a client case file would not normally be opened. The client’s case can be opened, disposed of, and   the   Legal   Assistance   Case   Record   and   any supplementary  attorney’s  notes  filed  immediately. LEGAL ASSISTANCE OFFICE READING FILE A copy of each outgoing piece of correspondence should be placed in chronological order, most recent on top, in the monthly legal assistance office reading file. This file should be maintained separately from the regular office reading file. These files maybe destroyed after 2 years. Material contained in the legal assistance reading files, as well as the individual client case files, is  privileged. REFERENCE MATERIAL FILE A separate index and series of files should be kept for reference material other than that which normally would be placed in the library. Included in this category are notes, releases, pamphlets, and bulletins not subject to  being  serialized  or  kept  by  category  in  loose-leaf  or bound form. It is important that this system be kept up to date since these items are often highly relevant to pending  cases. FORMS FILE A   good,   well-indexed   form   file   can   be   of immeasurable  importance  to  a  legal  assistance  office, especially where it relates to matters of local practice. Considerable savings in time and effort can be made by reference  to  a  previously  drafted  form.  However,  do  not let the form file get too large; discard or change any forms in the file that are obsolete or no longer used. FILING PRACTICES All papers filed, other than original documents not susceptible to being punched, should be secured in the file.  Letters  and  replies  should  be  in  chronological order, with the most recent on top. Every effort should be made to see that files are not retained on the lawyer’s desk unless they are actually being used. In larger offices, a chargeout slip or card should be used to indicate where the file is located. FILE RESPONSIBILITY Responsibility for the maintenance of the client files should be assigned to one person. It is a mistake to assign the newest person in the office to the important job of filing. Proper files management is vital to the smooth  operation  of  an  office  and  it  requires  an experienced clerical assistant be assigned this duty. Clear, written instructions must be given to the person responsible for the files. FILE RETENTION When a matter has been concluded, the case file should be closed quickly to conserve valuable filing space. Only two items should be kept: (1) the Legal Assistance Case Record and (2) the attorney’s notes containing the file history. All documents, including those drafted by the legal assistance attorney, should be returned   to   the   client   together   with   whatever correspondence  and  memorandums  the  legal  assistance attorney  determines  that  the  client  should  have.  The remainder of the file can then be destroyed. January  of  each  year  should  be  scheduled  for  the destruction  of  all  2-year-old  closed  files.  For  example, in January 1994, all files closed during 1991 may be destroyed. LEGAL ASSISTANCE OFFICE REPORTS Only one regular report is required for the legal assistance program. This is an annual report of the number of legal assistance cases handled during the calendar year. This is broken down by types of cases and  includes  time  figures.  The  information  required  for the annual report is obtained from the individual Legal Assistance Case Record, NAVJAG 58 10/9. This should be  tabulated  and  transferred  onto  a  Legal  Assistance Report, NAVJAG Form 5801/3, on a monthly basis. At the  end  of  the  year,  the  figures  for  the  month  of December can be added to the already prepared totals for the previous 11 months and the annual report quickly and  conveniently  prepared.  This  job  should  normally be done by an LN or secretary assigned to the legal assistance  office. Any  legal  assistance  provided  by  Reserve  lawyers must  also  be  reported.  If  the  Reserve  lawyer  provides the legal assistance at a base legal assistance office, then each of the matters handled by him or her should be included  in  the  reports  made  by  the  active  duty  legal assistance officer, as these matters are part of that office. In  some  areas,  legal  assistance  is  rendered  by  the 11-9

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