Continued storage of documents of a closed case may lead to unnecessary wastage of office space and subsequently more rental costs. Keeping in mind that law documents come in both paper and electronic formats, it is important to adopt an efficient system of disposing of documents that are no longer required while preserving valid ones.
Read on to find out when it is safe to shred your legal documents.
Lawyers are known to hold onto pieces of documents for reference purpose. This could be a case that was solved in the past. However, laws change and your current documents may not be as useful or applicable now. At this point, it could be prudent to weed out all old documents. Some lawyers prefer to convert paper documents to digital formats through processes such as scanning to save on office space. This, however, does not get rid of outdated information. Use cross cut shredders to finally get rid of every suspicious document that might compromise your client or your office.
To protect client information
As a lawyer, you may be in possession of sensitive personal or financial information of your client. The state requires you to store this kind of information safely to prevent it from predators. Failure to which you will be held accountable. If this kind of information is no longer useful to you then you must shred documents related to the case. This will keep both you and your client safe.
Sometimes a lawyer could be keeping multiple copies of the same document. With the use of computers these days, one can produce numerous copies at once. It, therefore, makes more sense to keep one copy or two for back up purposes. The rest should be shredded without much thought.
The death of a client
When the client has died, their case ends and therefore their documents should be destroyed. However, not all documents should be destroyed because an issue could arise. If your client’s case was less serious such as drunk driving or noise making, then you can destroy their files. Some cases, however, are sensitive for example murder and should be kept much longer.
Time is up.
The law requires that legal documents should be kept for a certain amount of time before they can be destroyed. Some documents can be kept up to 15 years, others require only 5 years while others such as real estate cases should be kept for as long as possible. So, if the time for keeping your documents according to your field is over, destroy the documents. No one will hold you accountable for anything.
To run a successful business, it is important to get rid of all unnecessary costs and to manage all documents efficiently. As a lawyer, you could be doing yourself a huge favour by destroying all documents that are no longer in use.