Did you know that as many as 53 percent of small businesses in America are sued in any given year?
This figure probably won’t astound you if you’re a busy law firm dealing with the legal needs of local or national businesses. And, of course, this doesn’t account for the myriad of other legal cases law firms deal with.
Such an enormous volume of work generates legal file after legal file—most of which firms must keep for several years. So how do you ensure you’re not buried under a pile of paper (or digital) documents?
Read on to learn how to get your legal filing systems in order today.
Get Clear on What You Have to Keep
Legal file organization is trickier than other businesses due to the amount of paperwork that must be kept on file for a certain number of years.
Be sure to review your federal and local file storage responsibilities—from both a legal and ethical standpoint. Once you know what you need to store, you can appropriately discard unnecessary files.
This will give you more storage space, you’ll have fewer files to digitize if you decide to take that route (more on that later), and you can be confident you’re operating within responsible document management parameters.
Channel Marie Kondo for File Organizing Tips
Now that you only have the files you need to keep, it’s time to sort them out. First, audit the remaining files and create an inventory. We suggest creating categories like:
- Client names
Tailor this to your office’s needs. Finally, go through one section at a time, eliminating duplicate copies and other unnecessary files.
Decide on Your File Naming System
File organization is only as good as the system used.
Once you’ve decluttered your files, it’s time to create a filing system that works for everyone in your firm—from office managers to paralegals to partners. Keep it logical, consistent, and free from jargon and acronyms.
Look here for blank tabs and other law firm administration supplies.
Put Some Filing Standards in Place
An essential part of deciding how to organize files in a legal office is ensuring the way things are filed in the future remains the same as today.
Create a filing system guide and distribute that to everyone in the office. This should cover everything from opening new client files and preparing trial documents to ordering office supplies and billing clients.
Convert As Much to Digital As Possible
Finally, is your firm stuck in the dark ages still using paper files. Then it’s time to embrace cloud storage.
While you might not be able to ditch the paper right away, you should at least start digitizing your archive so it’s easy to sort and search.
Learning how to organize office files might be a complicated process for traditional offices. Still, it’s worth it to know your documents are safe from disasters like fires and can be accessed at the touch of a button whenever needed.
Not to mention the positive impact going paperless has on the environment.
Legal File Organization Matters
Keeping your documents organized is as easy as A, B, C.
You need to know what you have to keep and what you don’t. You need to create a sensible labeling system so everyone in your office can find files. And it’s worth digitizing each legal file—at least, as many as possible—for cloud storage.
For more advice on law firm administration, read the other blogs we’ve carefully curated on our site.