If you are in charge of procedures and operations in your law office, you need to establish a system for closing case files for your entire office. This will help ensure that case files are only closed when appropriate, and that when they are closed, they contain all the right information should it ever be necessary to refer to the case or the file again.
Create an Index
First, you need to create an index of all closed files. This index should indicate if the file is stored on-site or at an outside facility or storage location. The index should indicate specifically where the file is located. The index should also include the plaintiff and defenses information, the name of the case, the date the case was opened and the date that the case was closed.
Having a detailed record of all of your case files that are closed will make it easier to locate one if the need arises.
Transfer Information to In-House Brief Banks
Each case that you work on requires research and detailed work. Before closing a case, make sure that the briefs and pleading for the case are transferred to a brief and pleading book. This will make it easy to look up and refer to past briefs and pleading for reference.
You should also have a research bank as well. Any research from the case should be properly placed into your research banks for future reference.
This information should not contain the original briefs, pleading or research, but copies of this information.
Get Rid of Duplicate Information & Accessories
When getting a case file ready to close, go through and pull out all duplicate research or information and shred it. You don't need to save multiple copies of your research, for example. Next, pull out and remove all paper clips, tapes, and binder clips. These "accessories" can add to the bulk of your case files and increase necessary storage space. Removing duplicates and office accessories will help reduce the space needed to save closed case files.
Create a Closed File Stamp
Next, purchase or invest in a close file stamp. On each file, when it is closed, mark it with the closed file stamp. You should also write the date the file was closed and have whomever closed the file also sign or initial over the stamp to indicate who closed the file.
Before a case file is closed in your office, make sure all important information, such as pleading, briefs and research, is stored somewhere easy for future reference. Then, make sure that all duplicate information is removed from the case file and that the case file is properly documented in your law firm index before it is closed. A company like American Legal Forms can provide file document solutions you can use.