Digitize or Destroy? Key Considerations for Law Firm Records

Should law firms digitize or destroy client matter records?

Why Law Firm Records Management Systems Matter

Many firms continue to reassess their operations spending, in light of uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic. Office space is one area where law firms have traditionally invested a great deal, and are now carefully reevaluating. Another is physical records management. Why pay for exorbitant offsite storage costs for paper records no one will look at? What is the safest and most efficient way to decide whether to digitize or destroy old client matter records?

But even as firms adopt more paperless processes, many questions remain.

  • What should you do about the backlog of aging paper records?
  • Does it make financial sense to digitize everything in offsite storage?
  • What is the safest and most efficient way to “cull” a few decades’ worth of client matter records you no longer need?

Digitize or destroy records?

In a recent article in Legal Management: The Magazine of ALA, Darrell Mervau of FileTrail provides some tips on how to approach the question of “digitize or destroy?”

For most firms, digitizing everything is cost-prohibitive. It only ends up postponing the more important question of whether or not you really all those records in the first place. A more pragmatic approach is to go ahead and digitize paper records “as you go” — on an as-needed basis. In parallel, you should develop a plan to identify entire categories of boxes you can safely destroy.

An advanced records management system can streamline the process of reviewing which records can and should be destroyed. Workflows help to automate the review and approval process, and break it up into phases if needed. By upgrading your records management software, you should be able to capture a complete record of all activity and approvals. 

Managing records in this way not only reduces your ongoing storage costs, it also significantly reduces security, compliance and litigation risks for the firm and your clients