4 Steps to Legal Records Management

esignature for lawyers

It may not be the most exciting part of practising law, but good records administration is vital for attorneys and may be time- and money-saving.

Paper document management methods have traditionally made it difficult for law firms to handle their legal records. Due to the difficulty in managing and organising paper record systems and the lengthy time required for access and maintenance of paper records, electronic records and signature disclosure systems have become increasingly popular among the organizations

It is fortunate that today’s cloud-based records management technologies offer secure and effective legal records management options for lawyers. Firms can save physical storage space and valuable billable hours by utilising digital record-keeping technologies. A client-centred experience and the protection of sensitive client data can be provided at the same time by law firms.

Introducing a legal records management system at your firm is easy when you follow the steps outlined below. Prior to adopting a new system like document signing software, we’ll go over everything from legal considerations in records management to firm-specific elements. As part of our discussion, we’ll show you how to leverage technology to make legal documents administration easier, more efficient, and more effective.

1. Know Your Requirements 

In order to get the most out of your organisation’s legal records management, the first step is to figure out where your firm is and what it needs.

It’s important to pinpoint the issues you’d like to solve if your organisation is still relying on a paper-based records management system. 

Do you or your company’s employees spend a lot of time manually entering data and organising files? Ever been stumped trying to locate a specific file? There are times when I’m away from my desk that I need access to a document. These concerns could be alleviated if a digital legal records management system is used.

Your firm’s size and practice area also have a role in records management. As an example, smaller law firms are better suited to the use of practice management tools that include built-in digital document management. Firms can store all of their legal records and documents in the cloud using an integrated recordkeeping and practice management system.

Your company is likely to place a high value on ease of use and efficiency. To save time and money, you should choose a legal records management software that can readily interact with other programs like Clio.

2. Prioritise your Organisation’s Structure

Law firms, which deal with sensitive client data and legal records, need to treat records as the valuable information assets that they are. As a result, law firms must place a high value on document organisation.

Legal documents must be accessible and easy to locate in addition to being maintained in a competent legal file system. Digital management systems are better when access is a concern.

Consider a scenario in which an attorney is working on a case and has to obtain a business document from a client’s file. The lawyer would have to visit the office and go through paper files if using a typical document management system. 

It may be difficult or even impossible to locate a document if it is stored in the wrong location. Alternatively, if a lawyer needs remote access to a document, they can use an application like Clio. The document can be retrieved in a matter of seconds by simply typing in a keyword.

In addition, lawyers no longer have to make copies and different versions of the same document because digital records and papers exist. Having fewer duplicate documents not only saves time, but it also aids in better organisational practices. 

The option to file papers directly from the source makes it simple to keep documents and data organised right from the start, in addition to these other capabilities. Using Clio’s email add-ins, for example, you can store emails and attachments directly to specific cases.

3. Know Data and Privacy Laws 

Customers put their trust in attorneys with regard to their court records. As a lawyer, you are also obligated to safeguard the confidential information included in the records and documents. 

For legal records management, this entails developing policies and procedures for how your company manages client data and documents, including policies for document retention and records management, as well as policies for the destruction of records, when appropriate.

A lawyer’s obligation to protect client data and comply with all applicable privacy and data protection laws is outlined in greater detail in our guide to law firm data security. This means that you must also be familiar with and compliant with any privacy and data protection laws that have an impact on legal records management.

You should double-check your state’s rules and regulations in this area, as they can differ from one state to the next. The bar association in your state may be a useful starting point for your investigation. While the Washington State Bar Association provides regulations and duties for how long particular types of documents must be kept, it also offers guidelines on document preservation and records.

Legal records management is another area where technology can help you meet your legal and ethical duties. For example, using legal software with built-in security safeguards to store client documents in the cloud can help you meet your legal records management system’s requirement to secure client information from data breaches.

4. Use Software to Keep Records Easily 

As a lawyer, time is your most precious commodity. Non-billable and administrative chores take up a considerable percentage of lawyers’ workdays. 

Lawyers spend barely 2.5 hours of an 8-hour workday doing billable work, according to the 2020 Legal Trends Report. Some of the less efficient time can be attributed to activities such as searching for, storing, and managing legal records manually.

Legal records administration can be made easier and more efficient with the use of software, allowing you to spend more time on clients, billable work, and expanding your law practice. The following are a few important advantages of utilising a digital records management system:

Use Electronic Signatures

Paper-based document and record management comes with the additional burden of dealing with signatures, which takes time and effort to complete. In addition to saving time and money, electronic signature software for lawyers provides a better customer experience.

Conclusion

In order to preserve client information and comply with privacy and data protection rules, legal records management is vital. A legal records management system can assist attorneys build more productive and efficient work processes. Use the free electronic signature software to manage the legal documents.