Keeping Your Law Practice Locked Down (The Way it Should Be)
If you work at a law firm or are a practicing lawyer, chances are that you understand the importance of ensuring that internal documents stay internal. You likely also understand the importance of adhering to relevant federal laws including FACTA and HIPAA. Although many lawyers have the logistics figured out, not always is it considered that using in-house equipment to shred material might not be enough. What’s more, it’s not always evident that every law firm has a document retention and destruction policy that seeks to fulfill client confidentiality.
In-house shredding machines simply don’t do a good enough job. Most of these devices leave the document in a vertical strip form which can easily be reconstructed. There usually isn’t any horizontal cutting happening inside these machines. Furthermore, using in house shredders means that someone in the firm is responsible for disposing of these documents one way or another. Simply tossing these strips in the recycling bin is a very dangerous decision, as it only takes someone willing to take a dive into the dumpster to risk exposing high-value information! Additionally there has to be a high level of trust placed in this employee that he or she delivers the destroyed documents in a safe manner. There is always a potential conflict of interest in such a situation.
The great news is that there are ways to try and alleviate these concerns however. Implementing a proper document destruction and retention policy is the first step.
Appoint a person or group to manage the plan. Having a group that oversees the process is most ideal, as it provides an opportunity to improve internal control.
Coordinate with your IT department / ensure you are aware what is backed up and what is not. Understanding what is already in the backup system and what isn’t provides an excellent starting point to determine what actions, if any, need to happen before implementing the process, as well as how to design the process.
Review the laws. Make 100% sure that you are aware what can be destroyed, what should be retained and for how long.
Set guidelines for destroying old / outdated documents. For example, what happens to the old Will when a new Will is written.
Communicate the policy. All of these tips are only useful if every employee in the firm is aware of the policy, its rules and procedures.
While ensuring a proper retention policy is in place is key, it still can’t be 100% fool-proof, especially if you are destroying documents in house with conventional equipment. So what is the ideal answer? Use a dedicated shredder. Here are a few reasons why:
PROSHRED® Minnesota employs certified staff and maintains a highly secured work environment to ensure destroyed documents don’t end up in the wrong hands.
Our machines destroy documents into a nearly irreversible state. PROSHRED® shredders cut both horizontally and vertically, leaving fibers instead of strips.
Our Minnesota branch even offers mobile services; we can bring the shredding right to your legal firm’s parking lot where it can be viewed in real time. This service is ideal as potentially sensitive documents don’t even get the chance to leave the premises intact.
Industrial grade shredders are expensive to operate and maintain (trust us). Bringing in a dedicated provider is often times a more cost-effective solution.
If you’re Minnesota law office is seeking document destruction advice, or would like to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us.