Australia has stepped up its data protection regulations. You could be in breach of data if secure information that your organization has collected is lost in way that allows unauthorized access or disclosure. Therefore, it is important to destroy your documents securely or you may find yourself in legal hot water. And there is no one who understands this better than a lawyer.
Attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest, more recognized privileges for confidential communication. This extends to your record keeping practices as well. Lawyers cannot reveal their client’s statements – written or oral – or statements to their client from other players including prosecutors, employers or family members. Law firms are also in possession of other legal documents such as case files, depositions and subpoenas. As a result, law firms are held to an even higher standard when it comes to protecting their client. This extends past their privacy to any legal, financial and emotional concerns.
Law firms are faced with huge requirements in terms of managing and storing sensitive information. To win case may depend on the ability of produce and locate a document in a time-sensitive manner. Shredding documents that you no longer need will help with the flow of information as well as free up space.
It is important to know what you can shred and what you need to keep. The following is only a guideline:
Dated legal information: Only throw out your old legal material if you know you can find a dated copy of it in a legal library or online.
Financial information: Lawyers are required to keep their financial records for five to ten years. However, every state has different rules for how long you should retain them.
Case file: This depends on your area of practice and whether or not these documents would be helpful in the future. It is important to distinguish between records and copies.