Many law firms don’t have a full-time file clerk. They only have a part-time one or none at all. This can create problems when other people within the firm don’t know the basics of filing. Chaos ensues when people start just throwing files everywhere.
Having a designated staff member who knows what they’re doing and pays attention to what’s happening in the filing room is extremely important. Without a fire clerk, there is no one designated to handle unfiled or misfiled paperwork. Everyone else is busy doing their jobs, and weeks can go by with papers piling up and no one addressing it.
The following list of lousy filing habits are things you should watch out for and avoid in your firm.
- Incorrect alphabetical organization. Even if things are organized alphabetically, if some people file under last name (the traditional method), and others file under the first name, it can quickly become difficult to locate files.
- Functioning with stacks of unfiled paperwork everywhere. Lawyers receive a piece of paper and don’t know where to put it when they are done. Instead of going to the source and making sure it ends up back where it belongs, they add it to the ever-growing pile.
This may seem harmless, but it costs the firm money and poses a considerable security risk. File rooms are locked and secure, desks and shelves in offices are often wide open during the workday as the lawyer comes and goes. Anyone walking through can grab a file and have access to sensitive information.
Plus, the person who put the file in a pile might not be the only person who needs access to it. Another employee could waste hours searching, instead of just going into the file storage room or accessing the file via an online system.
- Putting files back incorrectly. Files go back in the wrong spots, and papers go back into the wrong folders. This is equally as problematic as when files stay stacked up on desks. Either way, no one can find anything.
- Paperwork in incorrect client files. Many law firms have over 1000 clients, and some clients have the same names. If your employees aren’t careful, you end up with papers that look like they are filed correctly, but in reality, the folders contain information for two different clients.
If your firm is experiencing these issues regularly, it’s time to bring on a full-time file clerk. A file clerk’s job is to manage documents and ensure they get put into the proper folders. It’s incredibly important to have someone on your staff who will take the initiative to get the job done. You don’t want a file clerk who requires hand-holding, and they have to be willing to speak up if someone isn’t following the file system of the firm.
If things have gotten out of hand, and you need help fixing them before you hire a file clerk, we are happy to help. Schedule a call here.