Law Firms Need a Document Destruction Plan
No matter how large or small your legal practice, your business is privy to an enormous amount of confidential information, including:
- Personal details, such as bank accounts, mortgage information, medical records, and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
- Agreements related to marriage, death, estates and wills.
- Information on business strategies, mergers and acquisitions, patents, trade secrets, undisclosed IPOs or other sensitive business data.
Protect Your Clients and Your Business
Practically every piece of physical or digital record that you manage is covered by attorney-client privilege.
Even the most minor lapse in keeping these records safe could result in a huge risk for your firm. In addition to the financial and legal risks of mishandling client information, your business may experience a big dent in its reputation, and lose existing as well as potential clients due to efficiency and trust issues. While you need a systematic plan to safeguard your clients’ records, you also need a meticulous approach for destroying those files at the end of the applicable record retention period.
At Crown Information Management, we truly understand the legal industry’s record keeping challenges. Our data destruction professionals are well-versed with the various regulatory requirements that are applicable to every branch of law practice. From designing information management and destruction plans, to providing records storage and destruction services, we help law firms across Florida to protect their business and their clients.
Key Reasons to Create a Formal Document Destruction Plan
A document destruction plan spells out a detailed timeline for storing, as well as destroying paper and electronic files that contain information pertaining to your law practice and your clients.
Here are some of the reasons why you should design and institutionalize a formal plan for your legal firm.
- Create Staff Awareness and Compliance: Introducing a formal document destruction policy will help you educate and sensitize your staff about your record retention and destruction processes. Moreover, after providing them adequate training, you can also hold them accountable for any non-compliance with the stated policy.
- Provide Adequate Clarity to Clients: Very often, your clients may not store copies of relevant legal documents, simply because they assume that you retain them in the firm. However, a meticulously-designed document destruction policy will spell out the process of communicating with clients, and informing them about the files that you will be destroying, once the applicable retention period is over. This will give them an opportunity to retrieve the information they need, before you shred the files.
- Comply with Legal Requirements: A documented destruction plan will help you and your employees track and comply with applicable laws regarding retention of client information. After all, you don’t want a situation where someone accidentally discards client files that had not reached the minimum retention period.
- Earn Discounts on Insurance: The existence of a formal document retention and destruction policy gives insurers assurance that you are taking all the necessary steps to preserve and protect your clients’ files and information. This may allow you the opportunity to earn discounts on your professional liability insurance policies.
A professionally crafted document destruction plan provides detailed information on:
- File closure process once the legal matter concludes
- File storage – both physical and digital records
- Timelines to review stored documents and track what and when to destroy
- Exceptions and type of records that require permanent retention
- Assignment of responsibilities for access and disposal of the files
- Timely intimation to clients for impending data disposal
- Approved methods of disposal, along with a step-by-step process for in-house shredding or outsourced data destruction services.
Need help with designing a document destruction policy for your law firm? Looking for a trusted partner for efficient and safe disposal of paper and electronic records? Call Crown Information Management today. Discuss your requirements with one of our experts at 800-979-9545, or contact us online for a free estimate.