Generate a File List for Document Production During Discovery


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When making initial disclosures in federal court (or state court, if your jurisdiction requires them), it’s sometimes easiest to just tell opposing counsel all the files you have without sending over a mountain of paper. That way, opposing counsel can specifically request just what they want.

The easiest way to create a list of the contents of the client file is actually using the command line, although there are some free tools that can do it, too. Here is how to create a file list on all platforms.


Open a command prompt (All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt, or just search for “command prompt” from the Start Menu), and navigate to the client’s folder using cd (for change directory). For example, you might enter something like this:

 cd "c:\Users\sjglover\My Dropbox\Firm Files\Client Files\123456 Client's Name"

In order to navigate from the command prompt, you generally need to know where you are going (the names of your folders, in other words). You can use the tab key to automatically complete the directory you have started typing. For example, you could enter My Dr, then press tab to get My Dropbox. Once you are in the right place, use the following command:

 dir /S /W > filelist.txt

While this is really easy to do from a command prompt, Karen’s Directory Printer is a free utility for people more comfortable with a graphical user interface.

OS X and Linux

On a Mac or Linux machine, generating a file list works much the same way. First, open the terminal. On a Mac, just use Spotlight (Command+Spacebar) and search for Terminal. In Linux, if you don’t already know how to open a terminal, just look for it in your applications directory, use your global search box, or consult the forum or help pages for your distribution.

Once you have opened the terminal, navigate to your client’s directory. As with Windows, you do this with the cd command, and you can use the tab key to autocomplete. However, you must use forward slashes instead of backslashes. So you might enter something like this:

  cd "Dropbox/Firm Files/Client Files/123456 Client's Name"

Once you get to your client’s directory, type the following:

 ls -R > filelist.txt

Cleaning up the file list

Either method on either operating system will create a text file named filelist.txt in the client’s folder with a list of all the files, including all subdirectories.

However you generate the file list, you will have to clean up the resulting text file. Remove all directory information other than the names of the folders in the file. Here’s a part of what a cleaned-up file should look like:

 2010.07.21 Order permitting Pl to amend compl.pdf
 2010.09.24 Minute entry.pdf

 2010.05.21 Complaint.pdf
 2010.05.21 Summons.pdf
 2010.06.15 Amended complaint.pdf
 2010.06.15 Cert of Svc.pdf
 2010.06.15 Not of ECF.pdf

And so on. Also remove any privileged files, including the /Drafts, /Notes, and /Docs from Client/Irrelevant, Privileged & Protected folders.

If you print the file to PDF, you can distribute the file list with your initial disclosures.



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  • Boy, do I thank you for this! I was trying to do exactly this for my lawyer — we had five CDs with duplicated info — so she wouldn’t have to print out and lug the documents to court. I knew it was possible because I started using computer with DOS, and I knew exactly how to do it through DOS but not with Windows. Now, thanks to you, I do. It’s about two months late but hey.

    • Sorry I couldn’t be more timely. Next time you’ll know, at least!