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manolla's avatar

Advice on a good filing system in a Law Firm?

Asked by manolla (795points) January 9th, 2011


I am trying to change the filing system in my office since the one we have right now doesn’t seem to work, does anyone know about a good system to file documents, emails, electronically and in folders that would actually work in a Law Firm?

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9 Answers

poisonedantidote's avatar

I have no idea how a law firm would usually file their paperwork, but I do know a little about organizing in general.

I would go with a digital database system, perhaps something you can search via several filters, client number, date, case, whatever. You can probably find someone on a freelancer website who will do it for a good price.

If you mean actual off the shelf software, I don’t really know any, but you could always have a look at they have a fair amount of different programs you can try. They are bound to have some office management tools.

marinelife's avatar

Do you mean filing system?

manolla's avatar

@marinelife Yes a filling system

manolla's avatar

@poisonedantidote , can you tell me more about how it works?

marinelife's avatar

Here is some advice from a lwyer”


This is an office system that is often underestimated in its importance. Accessing files easily and finding documents on short notice is important to a lawyer and establishing a reliable filing system is crucial. Although the methods out there are countless, picking one and consistently using it is of the utmost importance to the organized lawyer.

However, here are some tips to establish an efficient filing system, to be considered beforehand:

1. Establish a logical numbered or alphabetized system. One popular method is to use client-matter numbers, which usually allows for easy integration into other office systems and software.
2. Separate your administrative and litigation files.
3. Consider color-coding folders and/or tabs for litigation files (e.g. green for pleadings, red for discovery, plain manila for correspondence)
4. Be ordered chronologically, with the recent material most accessible.
5. Establish a system for file storage, tracking, and destruction in accordance with applicable rules.
6. The filing should be updated daily. Do NOT let it pile up!
7. Ensure your and all staffs’ familiarity with the filing system.

There are few things quite as needless as having a law office scrambling around for half a day looking for a particular piece of missing correspondence or pleading prior to a deadline. The efficient law office will have an established, well-defined, and logical filing system that can be understood with minimal effort by any new hire.”


diavolobella's avatar

The law office that I work at uses the last name, first name system for paper files.

Each client file also has a client/matter number because we use the software program Juris for our timekeeping and billing. When a file is created in Juris, it automatically is given a client number and a matter number. The client number is for the client generally. The matter number applies to the specific case we are working on. The more matters we work on for a client, the more matter numbers – but there will only ever be one client number. For example, a file label on a paper file for John J. Jones and the company he owns might look like this:

JONES, JOHN J. 123456–11111

Let’s say we also do John J. Jones’ personal estate planning work too. He would have another file with a label that reads:

JONES, JOHN J. 123456–11112

We do not use the client/matter number to file by. It’s strictly used to enter time and expenses and to run bills. However, we put it on the file label so it can be seen at a glance when needed.

On the computer, we have a general drive (C:) where each attorney has a folder under their name. Inside their folder are all of their client files. Each client file has sub-folders within it such as Correspondence, Pleadings, etc. depending upon the nature of the work being done. So, if John J. Jones’ attorney at our firm is Bob Anderson. You’d go to the C: drive, look in the folder “Anderson, Bob”, then the sub file “Jones, John J.” to find all of his subfiles (Jones Cleaning, Estate Planning, etc.)

flutherother's avatar

I would only add that you need filing rules when you have a lot of paper files. You can get in an awful mess without them. It doesn’t matter so much what they are as long as they are consistent and everybody knows what they are.

manolla's avatar

Thanks alot guys, also would like to know if you would suggest that I go for binders or hanging folders which we are currently using?

I think that if I change to using binders, then we can use the tabs in the folders?

“There are few things quite as needless as having a law office scrambling around for half a day looking for a particular piece of missing correspondence or pleading prior to a deadline.”
@marinelife this is a perfect way to describe our situation right now ;(

diavolobella's avatar

I don’t care for binders or hanging folders. With binders, you end up with holes in things you might not want holes in. Hanging files are messy and always falling off their hooks. We use end tab manila folders for small cases that only need one general file. For a larger case with lots of sub-files, we use expandable files with end tabs and manila top tab sub-files inside them. We use the end tabs to put the labels on (like the examples I gave above) and we also use colorful sticky alphabet labels, so you can easily find a client file on the shelf. So, John L. Jones file will have a sticker like I mentioned above on the end tab and also the alphabet letters JON. [We only use the first three letters because some last names are too long to fit the entire name on the end tab]

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