The Beyond Blog

ILTA White Paper: The Hidden Costs and Risks of Electronic Records Retention

electronic records retention

Tiptoeing Around the Elephant in the Room?

Is the unchecked accumulation of digital files across your DMS, file shares and cloud repositories putting your firm in jeopardy?

Since law firms started adopting the first document management systems (DMS) 25 years ago, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of electronic files stored digitally. As of August 2019, NetDocuments was managing over 9.1 billion files across more than 2,500 organizations globally, while iManage is serving more than 2,000 law firms.

And that’s just one piece of the puzzle. A typical law firm may have client matter information stored in as many as 30 different types of repositories, and the volume of data continues to grow every day.

The Elephant in the Room: The Hidden Costs of Electronic Records Retention

Given the industry trend to embrace more “paper lite” approaches, it’s understandable that most records management and information governance teams have focused on reducing the volume of physical records in offsite storage, rather than worrying about the impact of cumulative growth in electronic records over time.

However, the reality is that most law firms today are now storing virtual mountains of digital records they no longer need — including matter files from ex-clients who have been inactive for more than a decade. The costs and risks of this “keep everything just in case” approach are significant — and pose looming threats for law firms that fail to act.

READ MORE: “The Elephant in the Room: The Hidden Costs of Electronic Records Retention” by FileTrail CEO Darrell Mervau, originally published in the November 2019 ILTA white paper on “Information Governance.” or listen to the ILTA Radio interview podcast.