Practice management software and systems are essential to a modern law practice. But with these tools come new risks. Keys to ensuring great representation and avoiding malpractice include (a) staying competent on technology, (b) keeping systems up to date, and (c) training everyone to use them properly.
These days most client data is maintained in electronic form, not on paper But your ethical obligation to keep it safe and confidential – whether it’s stored in the cloud or in a file cabinet – remains the same. And though electronic information has many advantages, there are risks as well: intentional breach, accidental loss and inadvertent disclosure.
A well-documented file provides a clear picture of the work you’ve done for a client. This can be invaluable in defending a bar grievance or malpractice claim. But documentation does more than just protect you. It expedites the case, facilitates teamwork and saves time and money.
Disposing of closed case files doesn’t mean simply shredding them or tossing them in the dumpster. Your state ethics rules require you to maintain client files for a minimum period (typically five to seven years). Some files should be kept indefinitely. When you discard files, take preventive measures to avoid disclosure of confidential information.
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