The Bridge - August 2013 - (Page 11)

Records Management: What it Means For Legal Services Professionals By Melissa Carlis of Oce Business Services Managing information in the form of corporate data, documents and records is arguably one of the most crucial activities for a law firm or corporate legal department and its staff. Many law firms even create entire departments to maximize the value of that information and to help their staff access it to make better decisions. But when legal services professionals fail to enact a thorough records management policy, they are at a disadvantage because they may not have the ability to produce required information as quickly in a legal proceeding. In addition, they could be held liable for damages suffered by a client or any third party who relied on the documents. This failure to maintain substantive procedures can end up causing severe financial pain and damage to both firm and client reputations. Why is maintaining records so complex? Many legal challenges often arise because each state has varying degrees of regulation that impact each industry differently, and these variations can alter critical aspects of a records management policy, such as the definition of a record, the duration of time a record needs to be maintained and the format in which it must be retained. In response to these complex legal requirements that may or may not coincide with operational needs, many firms that operate internationally and domestically across state lines have taken the "hold on to everything" approach. While this may ensure that vital information is not prematurely discarded, it can cause hours of wasted time, not to mention additional digital and physical storage costs. Further, records management is generally not a core competency for most attorneys or their firms' management team. Effective records management requires a dedicated staff, consistent maintenance and frequent training to ensure standardized adherence to policies and procedures. Effective records management considerations Managing electronic records — including records already in digital format and those in the process of being converted — is also vital to an effective records program. Following are some tips to keep in mind for improving your management of electronic and paper-based records:  Process analysis — Analyze current processes and procedures to create a benchmark between the current state and desired outcome.  Records classification — Either at creation or upon receipt, classify each record to ensure that it is recognized appropriately, and then separate the documents that have no value or are copies and can thus be discarded.  Retention and disposition — Create a retention schedule that will help determine what data or information should be declared a record, and how each record should be managed throughout its lifecycle. This also includes the later stages, such as disposition when either permanent archiving or destruction takes place. 11 Golden Gate Chapter August 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - August 2013

The Bridge - August 2013
Editor’s Corner
President’s Message
Final Rule Makes Changes to HIPPA Regulations and HITECH Act and Could Lead to More Breach Notifications
Relationships in Business
Effective Change Management for Sustainable Records Future
Records Management: What it Means for Legal Services Professionals
Change is Good: E-Discovery and the Modern Practice of Law
2012– 2013 Fiscal Years Financial Report
August Event
Salary Survey Order Form
Test Yourself
Job Bank
Member Anniversaries
2013 Business Partners
Golden Gate Chapter Leadership
August 2013 Calendar

The Bridge - August 2013