Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Watching the Paper

Law firms love paper. There is tons of it - when I was last employed by a firm, we measured our paper usage by weight...

This blog post by IBB Solicitors caught my eye - it deals with a warning dished out  by the Information Commissioner in connection with the way that paper records were managed by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (and they were asking for trouble calling themselves that...) and by NHS Liverpool Community Health. The quote from the Acting Head of Enforcement is telling:
“These incidents should act as a warning to other organisations who handle sensitive papers of the need to make sure their paper records management processes are as robust as their electronic data systems. The protection of data in all formats must be taken seriously.” 
Law firms handle lots of sensitive paper with reams of it delivered every day. How many firms are really sure that their systems are sufficiently robust to ensure its security at every stage of its use and storage? I suspect not that many.

I spend quite a bit of time in law firms of differing sizes and it is usually fairly easy to come into contact with a pile of paper relating to one of the firm's matters. Just as importantly, however, is the care of incoming paper within the firm. If there was a fire or flood in your post room or office, would you really know what piles of paper had been destroyed. Is everything scanned when it comes into the building? Is it logged before it is scanned? If it is both logged and scanned - I bet that is a significant cost that the firm is looking very closely at...

This warning highlights the importance of having systems in place to ensure that paper records are managed as effectively as computer records. They must be in the right place at the right time so that they are valuable to the firm - and the firm must know what paper records they have (and where they are) at all times.

Thanks to IBB Solicitors for picking this one up and mentioning it on their Twitter feed (@IBB_Solicitors).

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