Law firms hold vast amounts of confidential and private information by necessity. As the number of information breaches rises, more focus is being directed towards how legal professionals manage, store, and destroy that information. Protecting your law firm from the risk of a security breach means more than just protecting your clients’ documents. It means safeguarding the disposal of that information, as well.
Like all industries handling private confidential information, the legal profession is subject to federal laws which govern your work. These laws exist to protect confidential personal information and violation of them can result in financial loss and litigation. There are also state and professional regulations governing the protection of private information.
These are some of the information security laws applicable to legal professionals:
• Sarbanes-Oxley Act
• US Patriot Act
• Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards
• The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act
While retaining information securely is important, law firms are not required to hold onto all files permanently. Storage space costs your firm money. In recent years, law firms have focused on reducing one of their largest expenses: office space. Is your firm wasting money on unnecessary storage costs? Here are some types of files possibly taking up space needlessly in your facility:
LEGAL REFERENCE MATERIAL
Review your legal reference material. Check to see if your old legal materials are accessible in a legal library or in digital collections online. If they are, storing a hard copy on-site at your location may be redundant. Dispose of these securely if they are no longer needed.
A law firm must consider the following aspects of a case to determine how long to keep a file:
• Legal and regulatory requirements
• Client’s best interests
• Clients under a disability: minors and incapable persons
• Defense against allegations of professional negligence or misconduct
• Nature of the legal matter
Each case file should be reviewed individually, as there will be no single retention period which will be applicable to every client. If it is determined continued storage of a file is unnecessary, the file should be disposed of securely.
Check your jurisdiction’s rules regarding financial records. Find out what records you are required to keep and how long you are required to keep them. You can then arrange for secure disposal of all files which are no longer needed.
WHICH SIERRA SHRED SERVICES BENEFIT LEGAL PROFESSIONALS?
• On-Going Recurring Shredding – locked container on-site for regularly scheduled service
• One-Time Purge Shredding – on an as-needed basis for small and large disposals
• Hard Drive Destruction – secure process makes data from old computers completely irrecoverable
• Media & E-Recycling – safely discard computer peripherals and electronics
According to Accenture’s global survey, security breaches have increased by 67% since 2014. Disposing of private and confidential records securely can protect your firm from the risk of litigation, fines, lost revenue, and damage to your reputation.