Attorneys maintain sensitive client files, and they must therefore have strong plans for disaster recovery. Documents have always been an important part of practicing law, but in these days of digital overload, attorneys are bombarded with more files than ever before. Most legal documents can’t simply be shredded at the conclusion of a trial, because lawyers could be sued for destroying relevant evidence if the case is challenged. This is especially true following the Enron scandal; federal discovery rules are now more complex and stringent than ever. In such an environment, it’s crucial to have a way to backup legally crucial files through document scanning services.
To consistently handle records in a legally responsible way, firms can create a Records Management Plan, which serves many purposes, from preventing the inappropriate disclosure of documents to file closure procedures. A Records Management Plan is at its most basic a set of guidelines directing the lifecycle of legal documents within a firm. Having an RMP in place can protect firms from malpractice litigation.
Within the RMP, retention periods and practices for different documents should be outlined. For instance, law firms typically hold onto foundational business documents for the long term, while periodically purging client files. It’s also important that the RMP outline communication with clients about how and when legal documents will be destroyed. Malpractice statutes of limitation, jurisdictional regulations and the firm’s resources will factor into how long to hold onto files, when to archive them electronically and when to shred documents that are no longer needed.
Document scanning services like Polygon can help law firms looking to protect their legal records. By keeping important legal documents in a secure cloud environment, law firms can avoid troublesome lawsuits down the road. Moreover, this off-site storage approach makes it easy to pick up your law practice where you left off before a flood, earthquake or fire tore through your law offices. We also recommend vetting disaster recovery services as part of RMP development. Finding a recovery partner before disaster strikes is the key to speedy recovery of documents following a storm.
[ Photo by: w.marsh, via CC License ]