When it comes to managing contracts and client files, law firms face unique challenges. Law firms have an ethical responsibility to safeguard client information. Data security must be top of mind for law firms that want the biggest and be cases. Still, the necessary layers of security law firms must invest in needn’t be hampered by a bad user experience or poor interoperability.
Lawyers already have plenty of paperwork to deal with. From the attorneys themselves to their assistance, searching through piles of paperwork for one document is no one’s idea of fun. Especially if you need that document for a court appearance in 20 minutes. Put simply, setting up a secure, efficient document management system can save your law firm money and reputation.
Still, while every firm is unique, there are some common best practices firms can implement to fit their operation. Let’s start with the first and most important best practice: proper security measures.
1. System Security
If you have not already invested in a secure document management system, ensure your current system is properly secured. Keeping sensitive matter files secure and separate from other records can save you many hours of lost time and effort and thousands of dollars in security breaches. There are three primary steps you can take to ensure proper network security in your law firm.
First, ensure the right people have access to the right documents. You don’t need to give everyone in the law office access to every important document. Next, keep proper records within your internal system regarding who has what files. You need to ensure the chain of custody isn’t broken. Finally, once you have decided where everything will be stored, communicate your data storage policy with other team members in your office.
2. Go Electronic
No law firm is 100% electronic. There is still a need for paper. Still, law firms can and should easily move the storage of contracts and other important client files. Moving most files to an electronic system saves money and time. You’ll reduce your offsite storage bills, and electricity bills and create more physical space.
Electronic document management systems also reduce the amount of time it takes to retrieve documents. Instead of waiting for hours or even the next day to access an important document, comprehensive systems allow you to quickly access the documents you need from your computer or mobile device.
3. Retention Schedules
One of the most important, but often forgotten aspects of data security revolves around proper data retention. Law firms must ensure they keep retention schedules in mind as they assess their overall data security situation.
Work with your records management team to develop a schedule for how long to keep your records. A common practice is for firms to keep their client matter files a specified number of years after a matter or case closes. If the case does not formally close, look at it from a broader billing and firm process perspective.
We hope you can see why it’s so important to get a proper records management program set up at your law firm. If you work for a law firm that doesn’t have a records management program in place, we can help. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org for a comprehensive demo of our document, contract, and email management services.