How to manage your records

- Consider investing in a records-management software system to ensure the secure preservation of records electronically.

There are very reputable companies that make software for legal records management. Most of these software systems are licensed per work station, so it can be a costly investment. So whoever is in charge of this should shop carefully.

- Do not consider an e-mail In Box as a tool with which to manage records.

The e-mail systems like Outlook were never meant to be records-management systems. When e-mail files get really large, they tend to get corrupted…

When it’s e-mail, you probably have all kinds of things in there and don’t separate the wheat from the chaff because it takes too much time. So you get sloppy.

If you are going to use your e-mail as a client file, think about what you want in there and what you’d want someone else not to see. Delete it, and then delete the deletion.

- Store records in a location outside the offices of your law firm.

Even in small and midsize firms, there’s so much data it’s hard to back it all up on one tape, and it becomes harder to recover that much data. So some firms are turning to business continuity systems [with which] they send their data electronically off-site so it can be easily retrieved.

- Leave the records-management responsibility to an expert in the field rather than rely on an in-house policy.

Most large firms have had a director of records or a manager of records, which was mostly a paper-pushing position. But what has happened is that 80 percent of records now are electronic, and so it’s an entirely different process to manage electronic records. That’s where an information officer [comes in and] works closely with a records manager to do the overall management of the electronic records.

- Follow the lead of publicly traded business clients, which have had to pay close attention to their record-management practices as federal regulation of those practices has tightened.

Regulation that’s now affecting publicly traded companies, such as Sarbanes-Oxley [a 2002 federal law that established strict standards for corporate governance], will probably come to affect private industries like law firms, and that will mean lawyers will have to be much more careful about how their firms keep their records.

(c) HENRY CHACE

This blog is run by the authors of FindProtected.
FindProtected is a security program that allows you to search for password protected files. With FindProtected, you can effectively identify protected files containing sensitive data on your network.

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