The courts no longer have the ability to accept new cases and when it comes to the ones they have already allowed, they can’t find the associated files without a substantial delay.
If you are involved with the law, you face many challenges providing justice for you clients. One of those challenges shouldn’t be records management. Learn how records management gives justice a chance, when it is managed efficiently.
Today we are going to discuss the 2 main impacts that flawed records management has on the justice process. Before we get started, just in case you missed them, here are some of the topics that we have recently touched on:
- Discover the 3 tell tale signs that you could practice law in Mississippi
- Learn the 4 Reasons That Client Files Are Consuming your Office
- The 7 Laws that Impact HR Records Retention
Now we are going to look at how flawed records management is keeping the courts systems from processing cases first because they can’t accept any more physical records, let alone find the ones they have already.
We have all had this happen to us, you have to have one file, you have no idea where it is and you have spent hours looking for it. These files look like:
- Client Records / Correspondence / Pleadings
- Notes / Memoranda / Telephone messages
- Exhibits / Case Printouts / Research materials
That is exactly the situation that the New York City’s court system found itself in. The District Attorney, Ken Thompson, has called the conditions abysmal and has indicated that room is running out for the 18,000 felony and 23,000 misdemeanor case files that must be stored. The leading indicator of the archaic nature of the records is that the prosecutors must track the files in a manual spreadsheet. This manifests itself tangible in that files cannot be found without substantial delays. According to Thompson “the risk of a case being dismissed because a file cannot be found is real.” The impact of this flawed records management is that it is encumbering the flow of court cases, potentially keeping innocent people behind bars or conversely allowing guilty people to walk free.
In your mind, your practice may not be classified as “abysmal” but ask yourself the simple questions as indicators that there may be bigger issue:Do you retain files in a paper format?
- Do you retain files in a paper format?
- Are those paper files found in Bankers Boxes and filing cabinets?
- Are you able to retrieve a file in 6 minutes or less?
- Do you know who has touched your files and what they have done with them?
- Is a new revision of your records added every time a change is made to your records?
- Are your files backed up on a regular basis?
- Do you know exactly how long you need to retain a specific file?
Flawed file management has a large impact on the flow of justice but it doesn’t have to be considered normal. There are 2 simple steps that can dramatically improve a bad situation.
- Adhere to structure. Determine a consistent manor in which all of your records will be stored and ultimately retrieved (first name/last name/client number/document type, etc.)
- Digitize everything. Start from this point forward capturing everything in a digital format as opposed to keeping it in a paper format.
Don’t allow flawed file management to impede your efforts in providing the best possible outcome for your clients.
Discover some related topics:
- The 4 reasons that client files are consuming your office
- The 3 tell tale signs that you could practice law in Mississippi
- The Best Practices to avoid being addicted to hoarding
About the author
Document Mountain is known as a leader in file management by companies across the globe. Document Mountain currently streamlines document related processes for hundreds of companies so that thousands of end-users can securely store and manage millions of files on a monthly basis. To learn more about Document Mountain visit www.documentmountain.com or grab our free Records Retention Review, or we can help your specific situation in a brief 20 minute conversation to establish do you have a problem and how big of one it is. Simply fill out the form above.