Offsite Document Storage for Texas Lawyers and Law Firms
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 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 help. That’s why many law firms turn to document management services for secure and convenient legal file storage.
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.
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 Storage
Once you determine how long you will store the various 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 file storage can be time-consuming, messy, and confusing. When you have clients to work with and cases to win, it is not in your best interest to worry about file storage.
Convenience and Peace of Mind With Armstrong Archives
Legal file storage is a sensitive practice. Proper document 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.
Ease the burden by hiring the document management professionals at Armstrong Archives. They offer:
- Convenient and affordable offsite records storage at a secure, locally-owned warehouse,
- Electronic document scanning and free digital access to your files,
- Secure destruction services in compliance with legal and ethical guidelines, and
- A customized logistics plan for your firm’s document storage needs.
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.
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.