I hope this message finds you well. Today we’re going to see if you can identify with the Law firms in Clanton, Mississippi. Before we get started, just in case you missed them, here are some of the topics that we have recently touched on:
- Learn the 4 Reasons That Client Files Are Consuming your Office
- The 7 Laws that Impact HR Records Retention
- The 4 Best Practices to Avoid Becoming Addicted To Hoarding
This week we will reveal the 3 preconceived notions that modern culture has about records retention in the offices of attorneys.
Let me start by saying, I am sure that after dealing with legal matters all day long , the last thing that you want to do when you get home is pick up a novel about other lawyers… or maybe you do. John Grisham has always been a favorite author of mine. His ability to bring life to the details of a situation has always fascinated me. In his book Sycamore Row, Mr. Grisham depicts the process of trying to retrieve a file from a law office through the eyes of his main character Jake Brigance. Jake is searching for a will in a probate case dating back to the late 70’s:
He entered the freeman Law Firm in search of a client file…It would take hours. He opened drawers and looked at files, dates, names, and so on, and in doing so touched documents that had not been touched in weeks, months, maybe years. “Every room has file cabinets. Looks like the current files are kept in the lawyers’ offices, some by the secretaries.”
Commenting, as he looked “The files date back about five years. Some are retired, some are not. I’m still looking…I haven’t finished the second room yet…” Exhausting the file retention of the main floor…”There’s a large basement filled with old furniture…and more files.”
Not finding the file in the basement, he move up to the attic which was lined with rows of cardboard boxes stacked four deep. Each box had a code handwritten in black marker “real estate, 1/1/76-8/1/77”; “criminal, 3/1/81-7/1/81”; and so on. He pulled a box out of the stack labeled “probate, 1979-1980”, opened it and began leafing through a dozen files. He retrieved a file that was an inch and a half thick, and began to track the legal work…
Now, I know that is a dramatization, but how closely does this hit home?
- Are current files either on your desk or in the filing cabinets in your office?
- Are files in the process of either opening or closing located in your secretaries work space?
- Are closed files acting as support columns in the basement and attic?
When you think of attempting to retrieve a file, is that effort measured in moments or hours or maybe even days. Some best practices that will help you not to parallel that of Jake Brigance are:
- Initially, don’t disrupt your client engagement process, digitize your records as you close the file.
- Scanning a document takes the same, if not less time, as physically filing it.
- Use OCR (optical character recognition), software to make the file keyword search able.
By following these initial best practices, you will be able to retrieve your documents from your desktop and begin to distance yourself from your counterparts in Clanton.
Document Mountain is known as a leader in document 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 documents on a monthly basis. To learn more about Document Mountain grab a free special report on, Discrimination Lawsuits on the Rise” but the best way to determine if we can help your specific situation in a brief 20 minute conversation. Ready to see if we can help? Click here to schedule a brief 20 minute conversation or click on the box below.