Have you ever seen those reality TV shows featuring people who have trouble with organization We can all relate. To some degree, we have all dealt with clutter at times. Knowing there are people out there who are super organized gives us hope that we can solve our own clutter problems as well.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to apply the same principle to the typical law office? Indeed, law firms across the country find themselves burdened by data clutter. They have so much data scattered across so many channels that it is nearly impossible to make sense of it all. The struggle is real.
Something Old, Something New
If you step back and really analyze the root causes of data clutter, you will discover something interesting: it is often caused by trying to use too many technologies at once. It is not uncommon for law firms to employ a range of older technologies right alongside newer counterparts.
Go check out any of the offices of a large firm’s staff attorneys. It’s a safe bet each office will have at least one filing cabinet stuffed full of paper records. Walk across the room and log on to the attorney’s computer. You will have access to documents stored on the hard drive.
Now walk down the hall until you reach the records department. Open the door and you’ll find stacks of boxes. You might find a backup server as well, a server where electronic documents are stored in folders just as disorganized as the boxes before you. Do you see where all of this is going?
Unifying Document Storage
Like decluttering a cluttered home, the starting point for addressing data clutter is to unify document storage. Settle on a single medium and go from there. According to the makers of the NuLaw case management application, the most appropriate medium in this day and age is cloud storage.
The NuLaw application has a built-in document library. As good as it is, it is not the only option. Law firms can set up separate cloud storage that exist outside of the case management environment. The point is that documents are stored in the cloud rather than in filing cabinets and cardboard boxes. It is safer that way.
Once a single storage solution has been chosen, you move on to the hardest task: deciding what documents to keep. Suffice it to say that some data clutter is disposable. It has only hung around for so long because no one has taken the time to weed out what doesn’t need to be kept.
A Place for Everything
Continuing with the decluttering analogy, all the data in a typical law firm has its place. Billing documents should be stored in one location; case files should be stored elsewhere. Identifying storage locations and documents with some sort of marker is also helpful in keeping things organized.
The one thing you should not do is throw every document into one cloud location. Utilize different folders for different kinds of documents. If your environment allows for multiple storage partitions, you could separate documents that way. All the documents of a similar type are stored in a separate partition so that they are never intermingled with documents of other types.
We could continue the decluttering analogy with even more examples. However, the point should be clear. Data clutter is hindering law firms from being the best they can be. Getting a handle on it starts with settling on a unifying storage medium and then finding a proper place for each and every document. Are you ready to get started?