Records Management & Retention Policy at FitzGerald Law Company, your Criminal, Personal Injury and Immigration Lawyers in Boston, Massachusetts
At FitzGerald & Company, record management and retention is a continuous process, not one that is initiated at the conclusion of a matter. During our representation of a client, it is the responsibility of all staff to be extremely careful to make sure that all documents, agency/administrative notices, time and emails are properly recorded in our digital filing and practice management system, Time Matters, and that all documents that our office produces or receives from third parties are copied and sent to the client upon receipt or production. All original documents received from the client (i.e. birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, pictures, etc.) are to be copied for our files and the originals returned to the client immediately. It is our policy not to keep any original documents/property belonging to a client. However, the clients are expected and required to bring their original documents to all appointments, meetings, agency interviews, or hearings.
New matters are identified by the client’s name and assigned a unique Matter Number, by which it is identified in all our firm working records including billing and accounting. We orderly file matter documents chronologically during the life of a matter. We will scan and appropriately identify and save in our practice management software, Time Matters, all documents not created by our firm, when as they are received; in order to have a complete electronic copy of the file. Records for a matter that is open are kept in our numerical filing system and only removed when the file will be worked on. The files are not to leave the office except for court appearances and other authorized purposes.
Once a matter is concluded, the responsible attorney must make sure that every document related to the case is filed properly and that any duplicate material is discarded in the designated shredding bins. The responsible team member will mark the case as closed in our Practice Management software, will enter the close date of the case and disposition, will physically move the file to our closed case archives, and will notify the client in writing that our firm has closed his/her case.
Record Retention Periods
Our record retention period for immigration, personal injury and all other non-criminal matters is a minimum of 7 years. For criminal matters, the period may be adjusted on a per matter basis upon notice of the commencement of post-conviction proceedings (i.e. appeal, etc.), but will be no less than 7 years.
The retention period for the client records commences immediately from the date that our representation ends, which generally is the “close date” shown in Time Matters or the date of the final case closure letter sent to the client.
Confidential Destruction of Client/Matter Records
Periodically, we will identify the oldest closed matters to send to off site storage, based on our space limitations and we will record in Time Matters the location of the file per our Records Management Service. We will also periodically identify the matters for which the retention period has elapsed and request our Records Management Service to destroy them. To ensure confidentiality in the destruction of records, our firm will only work with professional records management and destruction companies.
Client Record Destruction Authorization
By signing our contract or by accepting our representation, all clients authorize our Boston immigration, personal injury and criminal law firm to destroy closed matter records past their retention time, according to our record’s retention policy. We provide our clients with copies of all documentation in their file during the course of our representation; however, if at any point the client wants additional copies of his/her matter records, after the matter has been closed, the client will have to advance payment for the copying and record retrieval expenses (i.e. off-site storage retrieval fees, etc.).
Client’s & Former Client’s Files
A client or former client may request the Firm to provide an additional copy of his/her records or to deliver them to another lawyer. This will require payment of a retrieval and copying fee as a copy of all records have already been supplied to the client or former client.
Our office will review all such records before they are sent to the client or substitute counsel to ensure that they contain only the clients’ records.