Legal Filing System: How to Organize Your Files in 2021
A legal filing system is a pillar on which successful law firms thrive. Anyone who attempts to prove to you that they work adequately in a messy office is just dodging the fact that there is disorganization. When you do not have an excellent legal file management process in place, you build a situation in which disorder, chaos, and unproductivity live. Being unorganized is a vicious cycle that leads to disappointment and lower productivity. Order and arrangement are some solutions to be successful; however, for lawyers and law firms, legal file and document management systems are necessary for functioning efficiently, ethically, and productively.
If your law firm is disorganized, your team does not work adequately, which costs you time, which costs you money. You cannot charge clients for the time it takes to find a lost file or a misplaced document, nor can you bill a client for the time it takes your team to duplicate work that has been misplaced because of the absence of office organization. Furthermore, you go on the risk of endangering the progress of each of your clients’ cases. Being disorganized leads to misfiled information, missed deadlines, possible conflicts, and a host of other misbehavior scenarios that will not only cost you money and credibility in the legal industry.
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Tips for organizing your legal files
The pretty essential start would be to declutter your current files. It is practically impossible to organize while working under clutter. Therefore, discard the clutter first. Do a crude inventory and classify all your files. This makes it simpler to create your legal filing/file management system from scratch.
You can exclude the duplicate copies and store only the original ones. Declutter one part at a time. Go through each section to get rid of everything that you do not require. You can do this by separating them into several sections according to communication, proposals, pleadings, or even client names.
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2. Clean out the waste documents
You don’t need to store all records forever. One of the main problems that often stop law firms from remaining organized with their files is failing to discard undesirable ones. It takes up significant storage space. By discarding unnecessary documents, your firm can free up space to organize.
Review your firm’s rules to preserve files and know if you can remove some old documents and files. You can also build centralized file preservation policies for your firm. Describe the practices and procedures for what needs to be stored and for how long. Also, specify how to discard these files. Usually, most law firms have a file preservation policy that describes all method(s), from how files are kept to how they’re disposed of correctly.
Having this kind of policy in your firm can help you exercise effective file management and limit excess clutter. This way, you can dispose of unnecessary files and documents properly.
3. Organize your current legal filing/file management system
Once you have cleared your firm of records, documents, books, etc., that are not used or required, you must arrange the leftover items. To start, you will need to formulate standard operating procedures for the firm. The solution to maintaining a law firm is to have a standard set of rules that every employee follows. This generates constancy and transparency throughout the entire firm. Your standard operating procedures will be custom made for your law firm and the field of law that you practice, but usually, they involve instructions for how to manage the following tasks:
- Adding new client files
- Managing office supplies
- Closing, archiving and disposing of client files
- Receiving payments
- Registering new client consultations
- Making appointments for present clients
- Making trial notebooks
- Everyday filing
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4. Create a filing system for your firm
Your document management system is the strength of your law firm’s organizational plan. Arranging offline files and computer files is crucial to functioning efficiently. Create a system that suits all files and documents to ensure progression throughout the firm. This helps every employee know where to search for a particular document within a file. Set up a safety plan to preserve confidentiality by adopting locked file cabinets and passwords for computers. Color-coding is an efficient way to classify different types of cases as well as the case state.
5. Switch to digital platforms
Nearly all law firms use some kind of technology; however, if you are not using technology, you are blowing an opportunity to make your law firm function more efficiently and be more organized. For instance, legal invoicing software to record billable hours is more effective than offline billing and provides you with a searchable record of all accounting activities. Specialized software for handling case files and documents and managing schedules and indexing reduces paperwork, offers immediate access to data, and enhances communication within the firm. Cloud-based document management software makes it very simple for lawyers and administrators to handle assigned tasks and track them. Paperless affidavits will save your lawyers and colleagues hours making presentations.
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Cloud-based legal filing/file management system
Particularly for law firms, there are numerous benefits to going paperless. When you first hold a client to the end of the case, it serves legal firms in various ways.
1. Easy client onboarding and maintenance
You won’t need to scan files for record-keeping if you use software with an electronic signature. You can automatically transfer copies to all individuals involved once they’re signed.
2. Automated workflows
If you set up a file and document management software system correctly, you can automate a customized welcome email to the clients. You can offer FAQs and knowledge on their case and about your firm. You can automatically send them the input forms and requests asking for different documents. This saves a significant amount of time, and your associates won’t have to do all this job manually.
3. Rapid information search
The advantages are even greater once you have held the client. You can scan all the records into your file management software. With features like text-search files, it will only take you seconds to explore through a client’s file and immediately find the data you’re searching for. This won’t seem like a big deal to you now, but when you’re in the courtroom with opposition, you can draw out a fact or document within a few seconds as you’re paperless.
4. Help your clients better
With a cloud-based legal filing or file management system in your firm, you can help your clients better. You can do more in less time. For instance, if a client calls you amid a hectic Monday to inquire for updates about their case document, you can immediately type in a query in your system rather than scrape through the filing cupboards.
5. 24*7 Information Availability
Finally, it is necessary to mention the massive benefit of working from anywhere, at any time. You can be sitting on one edge of the world and fortunately solve clients’ questions on the other corner of the world, mainly since we are working during an active pandemic.
The bottom line of it is, managing a paperless practice is easier than you think. It is evident than ever that the flexibleness that the paperless route provides you is essential.
Read Also – 5 Crucial Implement Management Software In Your Legal Practice
Which is the best file and document management software?
Now that you know how to declutter, stay organized, and the importance of a legal filing system; you must be thinking about which software to choose among so many. Don’t worry; we have a perfect solution for your filing problems- Legodesk.
Legodesk is an integrated document management system specially designed for lawyers and law firms. This software provides you with an easy-to-use intelligent document management system for lawyers and law firms to handle and store their case documents and files, all on a single platform. With Legodesk, you can create custom-made form templates for your clients to collect information, sign documents digitally with the e-signature feature, store an unlimited number of documents (text, image, audio, and video), etc.
Aside from the document management system, you can experiment with several other features like automating all your redundant tasks with automation, conducting your legal research via the research option. Also, manage and track all your cases on an all-in-one dashboard, manage and assign tasks to your team members, manage bills with e-billing, and whatever else you need to run your law firm.
You can signup and experience this intelligent solution for yourself with a 14-day free trial. A reliable legal document management system may not appear exciting, but it can make an enormous impact on your law firm’s productivity, performance, and success. Taking the time to get organized by adapting a file management system will unquestionably help enhance your law firm’s filing system.
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