Your law firm must implement and maintain a streamlined document management system. There will always be resistance from attorneys and staff when they are busily going about their days and don’t feel like they can take the time to manage their documents properly. Managing this resistance is an integral part of successfully managing your records.
Start with training, make sure each employee is trained extensively on a standardized naming convention and organizational system. When onboarding new employees, don’t even give them access to their duties and job functions until they have demonstrated an understanding of proper records management for your firm.
Stay consistent. Once everyone is trained, they have to stay consistent. Maybe that means they get written up if they leave paperwork on their desks overnight. Perhaps that means you implement mandatory re-training for those that fall behind. Whatever you decide to do, make sure there are controls in place to force everyone to stay consistent.
Block out time. Block out time where the entire firm is required to stop what they are doing and take care of their filing, maybe this is the last hour of the day on Friday. Perhaps it’s right after lunch on Wednesdays when people are feeling the mid-week lull. Whenever it is, if you designate a time where everyone has to clean up their files and put things back correctly, it’s more likely to get done.
Set an Example. Make sure your executive staff, file clerks, and technical support staff set a good example. If the support staff and upper-level staff are doing everything by the book, it’s okay for them to speak up when the attorneys fall behind. If everyone is lagging, no one has a leg to stand on.
Make it as Simple as Possible. It’s essential to make your organizational system and naming convention easy to follow. Expecting attorneys and staff to follow a complicated system that takes forever to navigate isn’t fair. The more you can streamline the simplify the more success you will have.
Hire a Good File Clerk. The quality of your file clerk can make or break the success of your firm’s document organization. This person should be impeccably organized. They should be able to recognize when things are falling out of order and fix it before problems arise. Your file clerk should pay attention as documents get checked out and returned and make sure everything is in order before the attorney or staff member walks away. This individual must be highly motivated to keep things in order because they are your last line of defense against filing mistakes.
If your firm has been dealing with inefficient filing and needs help getting things back under control, schedule a call with me.