Crucial Law Firm IT Policies: Document Retention Rules

by | Mar 27, 2014 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Rekall is all for going paperless and we have published articles to this effect recently. For more information on important considerations for going paperless, please visit Rekall’s Legal TechTalk blog by clicking here.

Part of going paperless is establishing a sensible workflow to get rid of the piles of paper you have in your office. Who doesn’t want to live clutter-free? Recently, we published an article that recommends a process for scanning files and then getting rid of them by either mailing them to the client (as applicable), saving them (if they’re important originals), or shredding them (most preferable).

However, we want to caution you against getting too scan-happy. Chances are you’re going to grow to love shredding your piles of paper. But resist the temptation of creating a digital nightmare for yourself. As you scan, take the time to archive old documents. If there are files you’re positive you’ll never need again, get rid of them. If you hold on to useless documents, you’ll have to search through all these useless documents to find what you need.

When drafting a document retention policy, there are a few important considerations we want to draw your attention to. First, be sure you’re following federal and state regulations. Next, if you are governed by internal bylaws or other industry standards, follow them. Finally, assume that all documents you have will potentially be needed in the future. Do you need successive copies of everything? Do you need ten emails that went back and forth about something or just the last email in the thread? You’ll want to err on the side of caution without complicating your life with unnecessary documentation. That may prove easier said than done!

If all else fails keep the paper that you have made thus far and invest in document storage services. They are inexpensive, they guarantee security of your files, and they have very fast delivery services in case you need them. Moving forward, go electronic with all new documents. This by far is the easiest way to transition to a paperless law firm.


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