A law firm, either partnership or individual, is one of the service industries that has recently been popping up in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta. Many young advocates compete by establishing law offices for the purpose of contributing to their personal careers and to Indonesia by defending every citizen whose human rights are being neglected.
The lengthy handling of a defense, and the lengthy course to achieve the maximum expected result to provide the best defense to one or more citizens certainly require energy and ideas. Such energy and ideas are poured into writing on a piece of paper to provide clarification, explanation and breakdown on matters that need to be stated, to give the impression of CERTAINTY to the readers.
This writing activity is the routine activity of an advocate in providing the best defense for each of his clients.
Many articles, documents, law references, jurisprudence, legal provisions are used to draft a written defense, so it is not possible for an advocate to avoid the piling of documents and papers. If this piling of documents and papers is not managed well from the beginning, there will be a big problem in the future because the management of documents and paper is no longer easily resolved.
This often happens, because usually when we start a business, we will be more focused on how to develop such business to produce sufficient income to cover costs and other needs, so the management of documents seems less important. But in fact, if the management of documents is applied from the beginning, business goals will certainly be achieved accordingly because there is no need to waste time and energy to look for an important document that is useful for the Client’s defense.
The following are some disadvantages if you do not pay attention to the management of your documents:
- Large amount of time required to find a document, especially if such document is the Client’s original document, an important document to be the attached evidence of the defense, financial report, etc.;
- Limited storage space, documents keep on piling;
- Costs to hire a special staff only to manage documents; and so forth.
“When your business deals with a large number of written records, then the most expensive part of filing and retrieving work would be the time it takes a person to do that very task. Imagine a system that could significantly reduce the wasted hours spent on searching and retrieving your important documents.”
What kind of filing system is suitable for a Law Firm?
Basically, the purpose of a filing system is to make it easier for everyone to QUICKLY find an important document.
Before determining the suitable filing system for a Law Firm, first we must find out the needs and corporate culture of such law firm, the areas of practice of such law firm, and so forth. The following is some guidance to determine the required filing system:
- Think about your general habit if you look for something. For example, you are used to asking your staff about a book’s title, rather than the name of its author. You should use the filing system by subject by arranging them in alphabetical order from A to Z.
- How such filing system can be easily used by all parts of the company. This is important because when you need to add or reduce the number of staffs, you do not have to spend a large amount of time to provide your staff with explanation and training, because your filing system can be easily used and understood by other people
- Determine the areas of practice of your law firm, whether you will be more focused as a Corporate Law Firm or a Litigation Law Firm because there are clearly different filing systems that are suitable for a corporate law firm and a litigation law firm.
A litigation law firm usually requires a filing system that is suitable for a company that has documents in large numbers because the trials in court could take 6 months up to 3 years to complete, and the documents will certainly be in large numbers. Meanwhile, a corporate law firm usually only spend 3 months up to 2 years to provide clients with legal consultation. How you are going to handle the storage of corporate documents. If they are stored in hardcopies, you should prepare adequate rooms and spaces to store all the documents in hardcopies, or if you prefer to store them in softcopies, you should prepare adequate computers to store all your documents in softcopies.
“It is very important to establish an efficient filing system and document management which is suitable for your business”
Here are some tips to manage your documents:
- Avoid saving unnecessary documents – Don’t make a habit of saving everything that finds its way to you. Take a few seconds to glance through the content, and save a file only if it’s relevant to your work activity. Having too many unnecessary documents adds to clutter and makes it harder to find things in the future. Be selective about what you keep.
- Follow a consistent method for naming your files and folders –For instance, divide a main folder into subfolders for clients, partners, and co-workers, etc. Give shortened names to identify what or whom the folders relate to. What’s more, you can even give a different appearance or look to different categories of folders – this can make it easy to tell them apart at first glance.
- Store related documents together, whatever their type –For example, financial reports, letters, presentation notes, spreadsheets, and graphics related to a particular cases in a single folder – rather than having one folder for presentations for all cases, another folder for spreadsheets for all cases, and so forth. This way, it’s much quicker to find documents for a particular cases.
- Separate ongoing work from completed work –Some people prefer to keep current or ongoing work on their desk until a job is completed. Then, once it’s done, they move it to the appropriate location, where files of the same category are stored. At periodic intervals (for example, weekly or every two weeks), move files you’re no longer working on to the folders where your completed work is stored.
- Avoid overfilling folders –If you have a large number of files in one folder, or a large number of subfolders in a main folder, break them into smaller groups (subfolders or sub-subfolders). The idea is to place every file into a logical folder or subfolder, rather than have one huge list of files. Having said this, there is usually little point in creating a folder for fewer than about five documents.
- Make digital copies of paper documents with a scanner– This is useful if you don’t have much space to store paper documents, or if you want to archive documents without destroying them completely. (This won’t be appropriate for all types of documents, for example, with legal contracts or documents with original signatures. So use your best judgment here.)
“For any system to be useful and effective, it must also be convenient for you. Spending precious time looking for documents can take the pleasure out of any kind of creative work you might be doing, and it adds to your stress levels as well. To some extent, this depends on the nature of your business or the work that you do. So, although there’s no “one size fits all” solution to file management, you will likely profit by using some of these file management tips, and by customizing them in a way that best serves your own needs. Simple good file management habits can hugely simplify your working life.”
Who is responsible for managing, arranging and paying attention to the document filing system?
Basically a company will advance and develop if there is a sense of belonging from every personnel in the company, from the lowest level to the highest level, including the company’s owner. The same applies to a law office. All parts of the law office are fully responsible for managing and paying attention to the documents and implementing the filing system that has been determined.
“A good filing system requires continuous handling, so that when needed, the data or information can be found immediately. A complete and orderly archive is the initial step towards an orderly administration. A good administration is the reflection and key for a company’s success”
Good Luck with your Filing Management.
If you need help arranging your filing, just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and find your answer.