Storing Hard Copies of Files

Keeping track of file folders:

  • Note the location of the file folder in your database.
  • Storing in alphabetical order: this is the most straightforward way to store files and allows the legal advisor to look up the file without consulting a database to match the name to the corresponding file number first.
  • Storing in numerical order: storing files by file number provides an extra measure of privacy. This method is also be preferred if clients have (near) identical names. Furthermore, storing files by file number rather than name can be advantageous if the number of clients is growing rapidly, since you do not have to move large volumes of files around when a file cabinet corresponding to a letter fills up.

Backing up Physical File:

  • A scanned copy of the client file should be saved at all times.
  • It is best practice to scan and upload all client documents as they are received to ensure back up of paper file
  • Lawyers’ notes are not always necessary to scan and save
  • See the guidelines for soft files

Storing Closed Cases:

  • When a case is closed, mark the outside of the file folder with the date of closing and reason for closing the file.
  • In the cabinets where you store closed cases, organize the files by case number.
  • Closed files should be kept for at least, 5 years after the case has been closed and no other action has been taken
  • Look at the practice of local law firms and bar associations to assess if there is a local best practice or legal requirement that recommends a longer duration
  • Consider the duration of the RSD cycle until the point of resettlement/residency (or other applicable durable solution), which may extend the file storage period you set
  • You may also wish to dispose of the physical file if the client only received an intake, and then failed to return to the office or was not reachable for 3 months