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Most of those who work in the legal field have not seized the opportunity to implement a truly in-depth data retention policy.  A surprising number of law firms lack a policy for the management of internally-stored information.  Law firms with comparably few employees are even less likely to have a comprehensive data retention policy.  This is quite the mistake, especially considering the context of legal work.  From setting standards for the use of personal computing devices to ensuring employees do not have access to the firm’s information when leaving the company and limiting data access based on authorization, there is plenty for the average law firm partner to be worried about.  Let’s take a quick look at the best way to implement a comprehensive data retention policy.

Simplify the Classification of Data

Data classification protocols often prove quite complex and fail to provide meaningful results.  Law firms of all types and sizes will benefit from unilateral protection standards.  Data should always be stored on a highly secure platform designed with specific access controls that minimize touchpoints.   It does not matter if the data in question is internal-only or client-facing; it should be shielded properly.

Perform a Data Audit

Data oversight is an essential element of a truly solid data retention policy.  However, it can be challenging to determine which employees are interacting with and storing specific content.  Determine where data is located and how it varies by department.  Data can be stored in the cloud, on-site, in print form and in other forms.  It is up to your law firm’s managers and partners to guarantee staff members are responsible for the data they generate as well as its storage and protection.

Detail the Retention Rules

Make your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy perfectly clear.  A hastily created or improperly worded BYOD policy makes it difficult for employees to understand expectations.  Focus on retention rules that shift data offline to secure spaces, make your BYOD policy details known and your employees will be obligated to follow your rules.  Communicate the importance of this new policy to your team in plain English and it will be that much easier to establish firm-wide compliance.

Don’t Forget to Perform an Audit

Once the data retention policy is implemented, your focus should shift to completing a yearly audit.  This is an opportunity to review the existing processes, address any concerns and modify policies in accordance with organizational alterations, changes in staffing, etc.

 

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