A written policy or set of procedures for records management plan will incorporate risk, research into legislation related to retention, and a sound understanding of the records you generate while building your case. Written procedures remind you and any other staff about your practice’s records management approach, and will demonstrate that you are acting in good faith consistently, especially regarding the permanent destruction of records.
How to make Records Management policy or procedures?
- create an inventory of all the paper and electronic records, under your custody and control,
- assign retention periods to records – retention schedule, detailing all the records you have and when they should be destroyed.
- keep detailed notes of your research on retention to assist with ongoing retention scheduling.
Ongoing maintenance and storage
Once you have a records management plan in place, it is important to keep up with regular clean-up of files. Dedicate a set amount of time to organizing records for a few minutes each week, or an entire day once a year. Be sure to double check your retention schedule at this time. Do you have anything that should have been destroyed?
Don’t forget the electronic records! They will have the same retention as the paper files.
There are two options for storing files:
- Onsite storage requires secure, clean, and pest-free physical space in your office.
- Commercial offsite storage is the second option: it is clean, secure, and offers certified destruction. But there are drawbacks: costs can spiral quickly since most storage services will charge fees for retrieval and delivery which can add up over time.
Records Management Ltd. offers compliant solution for your closed clients files at no cost to you*. Call 1-800-775-0093 to obtain more information about our E-Archive for Law Firms (adherent to the updated retention Guide from the LSUP)
Notes, correspondence and mails (communications) - Keep
Pleadings – Put in the firm precedent file or destroy
Client documents – Give to the client
Opposing party documents – Give to the client
Case law List and destroy Assets (estates, family, commercial) - Give to the client
Liabilities (estates, family, commercial) - Give to the client
Drafts of agreements (commercial, family) - Keep as evidence of client instructions along with the final version
Medical evidence – Give to the client
Wage loss evidence – Give to the client
Research (non-legal information referred to at trials or hearings) – Put in the firm research files