An electronic records management (ERM) strategy is important for any organization, but it is critical in the legal field. Whether a law firm or a corporate legal department, there are prescribed document destruction and retention rules that must be followed. In this article, the legal support experts at National Legal Staffing Support, LLC (NLSS) explain why it is vital to use digital records management in the legal field.
While there are requirements to store legal paper documents in some cases, the practical applications for using paper documents on a day-to-day basis are few. In the world today, nearly all legal documents have a digital counterpart. Digital copies can be transmitted electronically, authenticated electronically, and stored electronically — so for all practical purposes, electronic records are much more useful and efficient than paper.
A common question about digital documents is how to manage them. There are several considerations to explore. Let’s look at some of them.
Many people understand that most email systems use encryption to protect emails from being intercepted and read. It’s important to understand, however, that attachments to an email are often not encrypted. If you simply email a legal document, it may be at risk.
Legal firms should use an ERM platform or email system that provides end-to-end encryption. This policy will ensure that not only the email correspondence is protected, but any attachments as well — at least while the data is being transmitted. But what about when you are storing data?
Data at rest — stored documents, for example — must also be protected. A document management system, such as the one used by NLSS, provides password protection, automatic backups, access control, and document tracking. This process ensures that only the right people can access legal documents, and a record is kept of all access and changes.
Many professional document management systems have automatic features that help law firms and legal departments stay compliant with applicable laws and regulations. These systems track how a record is being used and alert the user if action is outside the document’s compliance rules.
State bars have jurisdiction about the minimum amount of time to keep legal files. Model Rules, such as ABA Rule 1.15: Safekeeping Property, suggest at least five years. States sometimes set this requirement at six years, and some even longer.
With digital records management systems, meeting the storage requirements of digital legal documents is automated and requires no physical space. The various cloud storage providers offer encrypted storage service at affordable rates.
Digital documents are ideal for collaboration. When using a secure email system, each document can be where it needs to be when it needs to be there. Changes are tracked, and provisions are made for making comments or notations.
In the 21st Century, there are plenty of options available to make digital documents secure, compliant, and convenient. ERM systems are specifically designed to ensure that anyone dealing with sensitive information can do so effectively and efficiently. A legal firm may need to store some paper copies of documents, but even those rules are changing.
About National Legal Staffing Support
Based in Boca Raton, FL, National Legal Staffing Support is the leading provider of LPO (legal process outsourcing). The company is a pioneer in the legal industry and offers exceptional paralegal services, client communication management, document management solutions, pre-litigation support, pre-filing analysis, and research. Their solutions have helped firms grow their practice without increasing overhead costs and improve the quality of client care.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.