The Lawyer's Guide to Records Management and Retention

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American Bar Association, 2006 - Law - 291 pages
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This book will help any law firm create and maintain an effective and well-organized records management program, including administration and storage of client files and administrative records in all types of media. Firms will learn to implement an efficient information, document, and file retrieval system, thus reducing costs, avoiding ethics violations, and ensuring client satisfaction. In addition, the book covers legal and ethics compliance when it comes to management and retention of both paper and electronic files.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Our Objectives
2
What Kinds of Records Are We Talking About?
3
How Much of This Do Really Have to Do?
5
Records Management in Law Firms
6
MatterSpecific Needs
7
Other Historical Approaches
8
Central Filing Operations
9
Facility and Space Allocation
142
ClientMatter File Sequence
144
Supplies
145
Paralegals and Secretaries as Users
146
Consistency
147
Lawyers
148
Technology
149
Administrative Records
150

Client Records Management Today
10
Mergers
11
Technology
12
Administrative Records
13
Rationale and Benefits
15
Staff
17
Lawyers as File Clerks
20
The Role of Paralegals in Records Management
21
Staff Conflict
22
The Role of Records Management Staff
23
Cost Avoidance
24
OffSite Storage
25
How Much Is Enough?
27
Productivity and Efficiency
28
Electronic Records
29
Conclusion
30
Ethics Compliance and Risk Management
33
Ethics and Records Management
34
Risk Management
35
and Information Management
38
Maintaining Confidentiality
39
Ownership and Possession of the Matter File
42
What About Liens?
50
Disposition of Closed Matter Files and Other ClientRelated Records
52
Other Laws and Other Records
54
Conclusion
55
Records Retention Schedules
59
The Need for a Records Retention Schedule
61
The Myth of Permanence
62
The Cost of Permanence
63
Historical Records
64
Vital Records
65
The Concept of Grouping
66
Documentation
68
Setting Up a Records Retention Program
70
Preparation and Permission
71
Mistakes to Avoid
73
Development of Key Components
74
Use of a Preexisting Records Listing
78
The Inventory Process
79
Constructing the Schedules
81
Records Appraisal and Analysis
82
The Record Series
83
How Complex Should It Be?
84
Never Ever
85
Analysis of the Legal Research
87
Trigger Events
89
Review and Revision
90
Policy and Procedures
91
Duplicates Reference Material and Other Extra Records
92
Duplicate Copies
93
Reference Material
94
Drafts
95
Chron Files
96
Implementation and Deployment
97
Operating Procedures
99
Records Retention and Disposition
103
Administrative Records
104
Personal Filing Areas
105
Dealing with Mystery Boxes
107
Disposition of Matter Files
109
Determining Disposition Points for Matter Files
110
Statutes of Limitation
111
Client File Retention Periods
112
DocumentSpecific Retention Periods
113
Electronic Records and the Matter File
114
The Vanished Client
115
Indexing
119
Building Indices
120
Creating Indices That Work
121
Structure and Terminology of an Index
123
Terminology and Clarity
127
Planning and Development
130
Application of the Index to Filing Systems
131
Is Automation Necessary?
132
InFile Hard Copy Indexing
134
OnFile Only Indexing
135
Filing and Records Maintenance
137
File Room Organization
138
Centralized Records Operations
139
Details Details Details
141
Titling Case Files
151
Grouping Records Within Case Files
153
Sequencing Documents in Case Files
156
Grouping Records Within Administrative Files
157
Titling Administrative Records
158
Inactive Records
159
Additional Resources
161
Filing and Managing Electronic Documents
163
Ethics Considerations
164
The Need for Effective Data Capture and Retrieval
169
Managing the Dataset
170
Data Structures
171
Systems and Technology
177
Before You Do It Yourself
178
On the Upside
179
Other DoItYourself Approaches
181
Primary ToolsWord Processing and Spreadsheets
182
Spreadsheets
183
Databases
184
OfftheShelf Software
185
CustomDeveloped Systems
187
The Functional Specification
188
Technical Specifications
189
Know Your Needs
190
Get Other Input
192
Utilizing a Functional Specification
193
Educate the Vendors
194
Vetting the Vendor
195
Summary
197
Staffing and Training
199
The Lawyer as Records Manager
200
Figure Out What You Do
201
The Need for Lawyer Involvement
202
The Right Reporting Relationship
203
Who Should Be in Charge?
204
Job Titles
205
How Many People Do You Need?
206
Organization Structure
207
Staffing Hiring and Training
208
Job Descriptions
209
EndUser Education and Training
210
RM Staff Training
214
Habituation
215
Additional Resources
217
Outsourcing
218
Records Storage
219
Records Destruction
220
Record Management Program Implementation
221
Program Components
222
Commencing Implementation
224
The Need for an Ordered Process
225
Reduction of Volume
226
Information Value
227
Organization Should Precede Action
228
Where Do We Start?
229
Approaching Specific Implementation Tasks
230
Training Approaches
231
Physical Files
232
Managing Electronic Records
234
Records Management and Document Management Software
235
Other Configuration Issues
236
User Interface
238
Classification Structures File Plans and Records Retention Schedules
239
Imaging and Microfilm
240
Summary
241
Sample Records Management Department Charter
243
Strategy and Direction
244
Sample Records Management Policy Statement
245
Records Management Reading List
247
Legal Issues
248
Records and Information Management Associations and Organizations
249
Local LegalSpecific Records Management Organizations
250
LegalSpecific Records Management Software Vendors
253
Destruction Certification Memorandum
255
Client Files Review and Documentation Procedures
257
Client File Review Announcement
261
Client Files Review and SignOff Memo
263
Client Notification Letter
265
Index
267
About the CD
291
Copyright

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