Records Management & Retention Policy
At FitzGerald Law 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 our office to make sure that all documents, agency/administrative/court notices, and records both physical and electronic are properly recorded and provided or returned to the client upon receipt or production, except for initial internal drafts.
All original documents received from the client (i.e. birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, 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 a unique Matter Number, by which it is identified in all our firm working records including billing and accounting. We file matter documents chronologically during the life of a matter and we will save in our practice management software, Time Matters, all documents created by our firm. The files are not to leave the office except for court appearances and other authorized purposes.
Once a matter is concluded, 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 remove the file to our closed case archives, and will notify the client in writing that our firm has closed his/her case. All documentation and materials in the case file will have been provided to the client during the course of the representation so once the matter is concluded the case file will be destroyed promptly.
Record Retention Periods
Pursuant to our record retention policy, and Professional Rule 1:15A, all records will be destroyed upon completion of our representation, once the final materials have been transferred to the client, except for clients who are minors in which case records will be retained for 6 years after the child turns 18 and except for records for criminal matters which will be retained for ten years after the completion of the representation, conclusion of direct appeals, or completion of the maximum sentence.
Client Record Destruction Authorization
By signing our contract or by accepting our representation, the client authorize our firm to destroy records for closed matters according to our record retention policy. As indicated above, we will transfer to our clients 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 and prior to its destruction, the client will have to advance payment for the copying and delivery expenses.
Transfer of Client’s Files
The client agrees that he/she will carefully maintain a copy of his/her file and any original documents and will be responsible for the delivery of the records to another lawyer if the client engages subsequent counsel.