Window to the Law: Manage Records More Efficiently

Window to the Law: Manage Records More Efficiently

August 19, 2019 0 By Kailee Schamberger


Clutter. Disorganized files. Hard time locating information. Are these problems you face in your office? If so, we have solutions. It is time to get organized! Welcome to the Window to the Law. I am Finley Maxson, NAR Senior Counsel. This month, we are going to discuss how to
create a record retention program for your company. There are many benefits for creating a successful
record retention program. First, record retention is a good business
practice. When a program is properly implemented, everyone
will know where information should go and how long it will be kept. It will help the firm eliminate unnecessary
storage space, both physical space and disk space on your computer network. Second, document retention is a valuable risk
management tool. There are legal requirements that require
the retention of certain documents for a specified periods of time, and so the program will assure
compliance with those requirements. Third, a record retention makes discovery
for any litigation easier and hopefully less expensive. So, how do you create a document retention
program? First, understand that a document retention
policy pertains to “business records”. A business record, which is something that
has operational, legal, fiscal, or historical value to the business. A business record is not limited to just paper
files, but it could be something in any format- a data file, voicemail, or video recording. Step one for creating a policy is assembling
your record retention team. Depending on the size of your firm, the number
of individuals needed for this will vary- it could be as few as one person. The record retention team will be responsible
for implementing the program and continuing to assure compliance on a regular basis. An individual familiar with the firm’s electronic
record storage policies should be part of the record retention team. Step two is identifying the company’s business
records. The record retention team members will go
through the firm’s records and identify those records that have some operational,
legal, fiscal, or historical value. Step three is to create a record retention
policy. Here, you will need to identify and evaluate
any existing policies to determine whether the policies continue to serve the needs of
the business. Legal requirements will establish the time
frames for maintaining certain records. For those records that are not subject to
legal requirements, the firm should set policies that best reflect the company’s needs. Record retention is something that each company
needs to create on their own, as there is not a one size fits all policy. Records that need to be kept for a specific
purpose should be retained for as long as needed, while those which are no longer needed
can be destroyed. Step four is to have your policy reviewed
by legal counsel since the policy will include records that implicate many different areas
of the law such as employment, tax, and state license laws. Step five is implementing the policy. When the policy is implemented, paper files
and network directories will need to be reviewed and purged of all records that are past the
timelines set in the policy. In order to kick off implementation, you may
want to have a day for shredding paper files. Once the program is implemented,
you should set a schedule for periodic reviews of the policy and also purge records according
to the record retention schedule. If there are multiple record managers, you
may want to have the managers provide certifications that they have complied with the policy annually. Remember, it’s not only important to create
the record retention policy, but it’s equally important to make sure that is continued to
be followed on a regular basis. So, that is a quick overview on how to create
a record retention program. There are resources provided on the video
page to help you to create a record retention program for your company. Thank you for watching this edition of the
Window to the Law.