February 23, 2016

FYI: Records Management/Document Retention

The core asset of every law firm and legal organization is information. Lawyers sift through enormous amounts of information on a daily basis -- everything from client files to printed contracts to the emails they receive on their smartphone. Making sense of all this information and ensuring that it's sufficiently protected and accessible is a daunting, but absolutely necessary, task.

Records management, often abbreviated "RM," is the strategy organizations employ to manage such information. RM is the process of identifying, organizing, maintaining, and accessing all of the records created or received by an organization in its day-to-day operations. These records can be electronic or paper and include virtually everything that passes through an organization's doors. There are many reasons a firm or individual might employ a particular RM strategy, but the most important reasons are the most practical: improving productivity, cutting costs, and complying with legislative, regulatory, and internal policy requirements.

Below is a listing of some helpful informational resources regarding RM, as well as a listing of some of the major RM solutions currently available.


     Legal Technology Resource Center

  • Herding Cats: Managing Electronic Data in a Law Firm (PDF)
    Electronic data - email, forms, documents, spreadsheets, and databases - must be effectively managed to both tap into its true potential and for retention and compliance. In this presentation for the Chicago Bar Association, strategies for using technology, planning, and training to effectively manage electronic data were reviewed.
  • A Necessary Security Blanket: Document Retention Policies
    This article explores the creation of document retention policy best practices and provides solutions for retention of electronic documents.

     American Bar Association

     American Association of Law Libraries


  • Guide to Record Retention Requirements

     Law.com Legal Technology

     Lexis Nexis Applied Discovery Law Library


     Network Alternatives

  • “Is Your Firm’s E-mail Disappearing Into a Black Hole?” (PDF)

     Sedona Conference