The proper management and storage of official documents such as legal or medical files, whether in a law firm, doctors office, hospital, or any other organization; is of paramount importance for ensuring regulatory compliance and proper operations.
Using the law industry as an example, there are very strict regulations and standards for legal document management. Such documents typically contain sensitive information that has to be protected through the implementation of multiple safeguards.
If you’re putting together a legal document archive for the first time or you’re moving from paper-based to digital legal document management, you will have to keep a couple of essentials in mind. Here’s how to choose, implement and utilize the best possible solution.
Legal Document Management Guidelines
The American Bar Association has put together guidelines for the management of legal documents in the digital office.
According to the American Bar Association, the document management software should be chosen to adhere to regulatory requirements and compliance criteria within the respective sector. It should also enable automatic document retention for a period of time as required by law.
A good document management system (DMS) should feature several layers of protection and encryption to safeguard sensitive and confidential data. Contemporary solutions typically come with such features but legal companies will need to do a bit of research in order to choose the best one.
A successful legal document management system should be selected to track and organize the information that the company processes and utilizes on a daily basis. An added bonus is an increase of productivity due to the simplicity of finding and retrieving relevant data.
Ethical And Legal Considerations
Legal document management puts heavy emphasis on ethics.
According to the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct, firms have to safeguard and protect client information in the best possible way. When a lawyer is no longer representing a client, the property and documents to which that person is entitled should be surrendered. This should be made possible through the DMS that the law firm utilizes.
There are additional legal considerations pertaining to data management and processing. Both federal and individual state laws will apply to the management of legal documents. Whether you’re doing legal document copying or the creation of a digital archive, you need to make sure that you’re fully aware of the regulatory framework and the local/national requirements.
Some of the best practices in terms of regulatory compliance include destroying documents safely when they’re no longer required or implementing a hold system (featuring multiple security features) for the documents that aren’t being used but that should still be kept.
Ensure The Correct Level Of Access
Not everyone in a law firm should be granted the same level of access to the database. Digital legal document management makes it easier to assign different permission levels to different groups of employees.
Make use of this feature. Assign different roles and protect the most sensitive documents with passwords and encryption. Creating the right access structure is one of the best ways to prevent the loss of important information or it being leaked.
Opt For A Cloud-Based Solution
Whether you have several offices or attorneys working in the same place, cloud-based document management makes a lot of sense.
Cloud-based storage is safe and effective. You don’t need to have local servers at the firm’s headquarters. All of the information will be stored digitally and a third party will be responsible for the backups and the implementation of security measures. Because such companies specialize in the field, you can rest assured that legal documents will be protected in the best possible way.
Having cloud-based storage is very practical and it can boost the productivity of attorneys. The information can be accessed by anyone who has the right permit level and regardless of location. Internet access and a connected device will be needed to refer to the information in the database.
Cloud-based document storage comes with added benefits – it is much more affordable and you’ll be free from having to worry about database, server and software maintenance or upgrades.
Filtering, Labeling And Retrieval Options
A final thing to consider when choosing legal document management is the information structure. Digital document management systems make it easy to add tags and keywords to every single document. When these are types into the search bar, the person accessing the archive will get to see the exact documents they’re interested in.
Always check the ease of document labeling and retrieval. These two will form the backbone of accessing important and relevant information quickly and efficiently.
Don’t rush the selection of the right DMS. This system should be secure, it should ensure regulatory compliance and ease of utilization. Law firms, medical offices, government workplaces, etc; have to adhere to ethical and regulatory standards that are pretty rigorous. This is why the selection of a DMS should never be left to chance. Regardless of what industry you work in, all documents and files should be safe and secured.
How does your Company manage documents and files? What kind of DMS does your Business utilize? We love hearing from our readers!