Law offices create volumes of paper and electronic files. The paper files become a hassle to store. Most law offices have to rent a storage room for them. However, unless you choose carefully, that can be troublesome, as is keeping files past their retention date. Law offices can reduce the risk of stolen documents by creating a retention schedule for law firm document destruction based on the state’s rules regarding destroying files.
At the end of the retention period, law firms should ask a client if they want their files. If not, they need to go through the law firm’s document destruction procedure. If you don’t have a document destruction procedure, contact Royal Document Destruction today to discuss law firm document destruction and set up a schedule.
Creating a Law Firm Document Destruction Policy
If your firm has converted to electronic files, the records management software you use should notify you when a client’s file is at the end of the retention period. If not, you should be keeping a schedule for client files so you can destroy them as soon as possible after you are done representing the client.
As part of your law firm document destruction policy, you should have different filing cabinets for documents you must keep forever and those you can destroy after the document retention period expires. You must keep certain documents, such as estate plans, for life, but other documents need to be destroyed at the end of their retention period.
Separating files by retention time makes them easier to find when it’s time to destroy the files. You must also have a documentation system to keep track of when you destroy the files, including the client name, last representation date and document destruction date.
If you are unsure about document retention time frames, check with the Ohio Bar Association. Certain files might need a longer retention time than others. Match the time with the length of time a client could file a malpractice lawsuit against the firm. For example, if document retention standards require you to keep a client’s file for five years, but the client has six years to file a malpractice claim, you might keep the file for six years.
Destruction of Client Files
When a file’s retention time is up, you should remove the file from the filing cabinet to a locked shred box. The only way to ensure someone doesn’t steal your client’s identity is to shred the files with a professional shredding company. Our truck comes to your office, and you can watch us shred the files.
We also shred electronic media. When a hard drive or portable storage drives, such as USB drives are upgraded or no longer work, they should also be shredded. Hackers can recover data even if the drive doesn’t work for you.
Your firm’s retention schedule should also include digital media – it is not enough to wipe the drives.
Contact Royal Document Destruction
If your firm needs help creating a document destruction procedure, lock boxes, and scheduling a shredding truck to come to your office, contact Royal Document Destruction for an appointment. We’ll help you create a schedule to shred documents and leave you with lock boxes to better help you manage your files.