As a lawyer, you know how much paper your firm produces on a daily basis. You use paper to record important information, but you cannot dispose of this material in a haphazard manner. In fact, certain original legal documents must be kept for a minimum length of time per Texas Bar Association rules.
But file retention can be time-consuming, inconvenient, and expensive without professional legal document management help. That’s why many law firms turn to document management legal services for secure and convenient legal file storage. Armstrong Archives provides the perfect legal document management solution.
Legal Document Management: File Retention Rules for Texas Lawyers
According to the Texas Center for Legal Ethics’ Opinion 627 (April 2013), an attorney can dispose of client files after the proper “passage of time.” The opinion does not state how long this period is, but uses a five-year retention period as its basis. However, the opinion suggests that the length of file retention isn’t as important as having a solid file retention policy.
Texas Opinion 627 suggests that law firms should include the following components in their file retention and destruction policy:
- Guidelines for the protection of confidential information
- Procedures for turning files over to clients, if requested
- Precautions to avoid accidentally destroying files against the client’s interests
The opinion also states that firms should destroy files in a manner that does not sacrifice client confidentiality. Disposing files in a trash bin without shredding them, for example, can violate regulations. Firms should retain items that could still have value to a client, such as original documents and notes. Having legal document management systems in place is extremely important.
According to the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, firms must retain trust account records for 5 years. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure state that firms cannot destroy certain settlement agreements and discovery materials. Neither of these rules specifies a retention timeline for closed client files.
The Hassle of On-Site Legal Documents Storage
Once you determine how long you will store the various legal documents your legal practice produces, you will need plenty of space to store these records until it is safe to dispose of them, and then a plan for secure document destruction. But even the best, most organized on-site file retention and destruction system is not without issues. The possible pitfalls include:
- Insufficient storage space on site to warehouse all documents that must be kept.
- Accidental destruction of important files, resulting in spoliation of evidence.
- Loss of important files resulting in charges of legal malpractice.
- Destruction or loss of confidential information, breaching client confidentiality.
In addition to the possible legal ramifications, do-it-yourself legal document management and file storage can be time-consuming, messy, and confusing. Legal professionals are busy running their law firm. Then you have clients to work with and cases to win, it is not in your best interest to worry about file storage for all your paper documents. That’s why having someone provide you with legal document management solution is the best option.
Document Management for the Legal Industry With Armstrong Archives
Legal file storage is a sensitive practice. Proper legal document management, retention and destruction requires knowledge of legal ethics, guidelines, laws, and confidentiality agreements, as well as standard archival practices. Going through this process without professional help can result in headaches and legal consequences. And trusting any old law practice management software could be detrimental.
Ease the burden by hiring the legal document management professionals at Armstrong Archives.
Are you ready to store your important legal files while enjoying security, affordability, and convenience? Contact Armstrong Archives to learn more about our legal records management services today.
Frequently Asked Questions
How difficult is it to access a legal document remotely?
Our document management system makes it very easy for your law firm to access any document that you need within just a few hours or less. Once your records arrive at our warehouse, we index your important documents and store them securely. This allows us to know where each of your firm’s documents are should they be needed. You may choose to have all of your legal documents scanned upon arrival, or you may utilize our scan-on-demand document management system.
Many of our legal clients find that scan-on-demand is a good choice for older files and legal documents that are not likely to be referenced frequently. With this solution, paper legal documents are stored, and then should they be needed, we can scan and email the requested files to your firm within a few hours or less.
Do you often work with law firms?
Yes! We work with countless law firms, offering legal document management system and off-site legal records management for both local and statewide law practices. Your legal practice management is in good hands, with both a cloud-based solution (our legal document management software) and a locally owned warehouse.
Why shouldn’t we store documents ourselves?
Of course, law firms are more than welcome to store legal documents themselves, though doing so is quite expensive, time-consuming, and requires plenty of space over the years. Should a legal document become lost or destroyed, there are often ethical and legal repercussions to consider. But a professional legal records management company like Armstrong Archives provides legal document management designed to alleviate concerns and protect law firms.
Posted By: Sherri Taylor – President/Managing Partner
Sherri Taylor is the Managing Partner and President of Armstrong Archives, one of the largest independent records and information management companies in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.