John Montaña, J.D., F.I.I.M., F.A.I., is vice president of advisory services at Montaña & Associates. In this capacity, he...
Christine Bilbrey is a Senior Practice Management Advisor at The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center. She holds a master’s...
Karla Eckardt, a Miami native, moved to Tallahassee to pursue a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and criminology from...
The ever-evolving role of technology in records and information management has left many lawyers with a lot of questions. What do you need to know about on-site versus off-site data storage? How do you migrate from physical to electronic files? And what about record retention rules and document disposal practices? Together with records management expert John Montaña, Christine Bilbrey and Karla Eckart explore best practices and discuss what members should do to ensure compliance with bar rules.
John Montaña, J.D., F.I.I.M., F.A.I., is vice president of advisory services at Montaña & Associates.
This podcast has been approved by The Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Department for 0.5 hours of General or Technology CLE Credit. Course #3894.
The Florida Bar Podcast
Electronic File Management 101
Intro: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, where we highlight the latest trends in law office and legal practice management to help you run your firm, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Christine Bilbrey: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast brought to you by LegalFuel, the Practice Resource Center of the Florida Bar. We’re so glad you’re joining us. This is Christine Bilbrey. I’m a Senior Practice Management Advisor at the Bar and one of the hosts for today’s show, which is being recorded from our offices in Tallahassee, Florida.
Karla Eckardt: Hello. I am Karla Eckardt. I am a Practice Management Advisor at The Florida Bar and co-host of today’s podcast.
Our goal at The Practice Resource Center is to assist Florida attorneys with running the business side of their law practices. We focus on a different topic each month and carry the theme through our website with related tips, videos and articles.
Christine Bilbrey: So today we are discussing Electronic Records Management, to help our members understand best practices while also staying compliant with bar rules.
Here at the Practice Resource Center we regularly get calls from our members asking us about on-site versus off-site file storage, migrating from physical file storage to electronic file storage, all the record retention rules, document disposal and other topics related to the ever-evolving role of technology and records in information management.
Joining us today is John Montaña. John is Vice President of Advisory Services at Montaña & Associates, an Access Company. In this capacity he advises corporations, law firms and nonprofit organizations on best practices and legal compliance in information systems of all types, including paper-based systems, unstructured document and data repositories and structured data systems.
His work has included analysis and advice on a wide variety of governance, compliance and management issues, including records retention scheduling, advice on the legality of various information storage media, regulatory compliance, litigation and discovery, risk mitigation and other matters likely to impact information governance and management considerations, and start-to-finish development of records retention schedules and records management policies and procedures.
He is widely recognized as one of the foremost records management experts in the country. Mr. Montaña has published four books on records management issues, as well as dozens of articles for magazines and professional journals, and is an active speaker on records management topics. He holds a JD from the University of Denver.
Welcome to the show John.
John Montaña: Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Christine Bilbrey: So John, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and the work you do.
John Montaña: Well let’s see, I go back a long ways. I actually have been in the legal business and the records management business since before electronic records were prevalent. So I’ve had a chance to observe the transition from fully paper file systems particularly in law firms to the current cloud-based and distributed kinds of environments that we see, but during that entire time I — believed it or not, I’ve actually been a sort of records management attorney in the sense that my work has primarily focused on helping organizations of various kinds including law firms with all of the issues that are associated with records management including records retention schedules, electronic records, various ethics issues associated with those kinds of things.
So for a long time now and during this enormous technological transition that we’ve seen over the last 20 years, my work has been primarily involved with assisting organizations in solving the problems that have come up but as technology evolves.
Karla Eckardt: So, on this show we often like to demystify and sort of oversimplify topics to make sure that our members understand them sort of from beginning to end at least the basics. So you talked about the transition over the last couple of years or decades at this point, what is going paperless, what does that look like in a law firm, because a lot of times a lot of attorneys think it’s somewhat of a buzzword, but what does that mean in terms of records management?
John Montaña: It means a lot of things. First of all if you think — if you think of a your traditional like old-school lawyer, right, it was a guy with a briefcase carrying lots of paper around, right and if you went in a traditional law office and many of them today are still very traditional in that sense, it’s file, folders and Redwelds and things like that filled up with paper documents. That paradigm has changed very dramatically in a lot of ways.
First of all, most of that paper is created electronically these days in the first place. So that what is in that Redweld or that folder, that briefcase is really a printout of an electronic file.
So right there you’re going paperless, because the original of that document is often an electronic file of some sort. But beyond that paperless means a lot of things.
So for example, a lot of lawyer communication is done via email these days or even text messaging, which create their own set of problems by the way. But then when you look at storage in law firms increasingly we’re storing things including signed final documents as PDFs or other image files and of course these things are stored in a variety of places these days.
So it’s not just only a hard drive on someone’s desk anymore, it’s in the cloud someplace or in a central server system if you’re a big enough law firm to have that sort of thing. So going paperless really is not a thing, it’s a variety of things that are occurring as technology changes and as our ability to use information changes, such that the standard 19th century briefcase model of a lawyer is going away through a variety of routes as the information takes different forms.
Karla Eckardt: And just to be clear with our listeners, because we get this call and this question a lot — the basic question can I store my files electronically. So we just want to put it out there for listeners that yes, there is a Florida Ethics Opinion 06-1 that says, lawyers may, but are not required to, store files electronically unless a statute or rule requires retention of the original document, so on so forth. Again, that’s Ethics Opinion 06-1.
Now for these attorneys we again, we have a large population of older attorneys who are in that traditional mindset, they’re Luddites for better explanation and they insist on on-site, on-premise file storage, the whole concept of storing client files in the cloud raises so many concerns. They are completely afraid of turning over confidential client information to a third party service provider. So what are some of these concerns and how would you address these with these attorneys that are sort of concerned about the risks and the implications about turning over this information and storing it off-site?
John Montaña: Well, there are there are some real risks associated with that and so an attorney is properly concerned about that kind of thing, because let’s face it, data breaches are a fact of life in any industry, in any organization and other types of data security incidents are a fact of life in law firms just as well as in other organizations.
And as a matter of fact readers may recall not so many years ago the spectacular collapse of the Mossack Fonseca Law Firm in Panama because of a big data breach in which all sorts of client material was published on the web to the great embarrassment of a great many people and that destroyed that law firm.
So a law firm should take that seriously, because let’s face it, any lawyer doing virtually any kind of work is going to have a significant amount of sensitive information from their clients and a duty always every place to preserve the confidentiality of those clients.
So when a lawyer contemplates any sort of electronic storage situation, one of the first questions that comes up is security, because at the end of the day the important thing to remember is that no matter who may have your records, whether it’s an internal computer system or some sort of cloud-based storage or something else, ultimately the buck stops with the lawyer, the responsibilities for maintaining client confidentiality do not go away because you’ve handed off the records to some third party. The lawyer maintains absolute liability for maintaining the confidentiality and accuracy and all of the other things that can happen to a record. So the lawyer should be concerned.
That said the Bar Associations, there is in fact that Florida Opinion and they are following Florida opinions as well and in opinions from other states that have looked at it as well and commentary from the American Bar Association respecting the ethics rules and how do you have to respond to those.
The bottom line of it all is, is that yes it’s okay to store things in the cloud, but just as with physical storage, the lawyer has an obligation to undertake reasonable steps to ensure confidentiality, ensure data security and all of the things that are specific to that in an electronic environment. What does that mean? Well it sort of depends, because for example if you’re using Office 365 and your records are being stored in the cloud someplace or you’re like My Shop and we run Macs and things going into iCloud, you don’t have a lot of control in many cases absent some significant effort on your part to control where the material goes, right.
So your files are going up into a cloud someplace and they’re coming back down and you don’t exactly know where. There’s lots of things you can do about that though.
For example, you should be doing due diligence with respect to your provider to make sure that the files have been transmitted securely. You can also encrypt the information and probably should encrypt the information particularly if you are using mobile devices for client purposes.
So for example, I travel a lot and I have a laptop and I not only do I have a strong password on the laptop, but I have the hard drive encrypted quite strongly, because if I ever lost that laptop or stolen on a business trip, I would want that information protected.
And so any lawyer that’s contemplating a situation where client information would leave the boundaries of the law firm in any way, you have to think about those kinds of measures and with a cloud provider the only way you can know about those kinds of measures is to do some due diligence and inquire about what measures they are taking to protect your information, because it’s very important to remember that the cloud is at the end of the day, a kind of big empty box where stuff can go and what layers of protection, what measures of protection are available depend entirely upon who’s running that particular cloud and what they’re doing to protect your information. So you have to ask some questions.
Christine Bilbrey: And so everything we’re talking about right now falls under Florida Ethics Opinion 12-3, that states that, lawyers may use cloud computing if they take reasonable precautions to ensure the confidentiality of client information is maintained. And I do want to note that at legalfuel.com, we have a quick cloud computing guidelines that our technology committee has put together. So when you are — when someone says you have to do due diligence when you’re finding a cloud storage provider, that will actually give you some guidelines and if you don’t speak that language you can hand it to your IT guy and make sure that that is communicated to the cloud provider.
But I want to take a step back. So say we have talked to the attorney that’s terrified of cloud storage and we’ve told them about here in Florida, the hurricane can take out your server in your office, your files can be — if your office is burglarized, there’s so many reasons to go ahead we have the Coronavirus coming. I don’t know where we’ll be —
Karla Eckardt: Right, you have to work from home.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah, you want everyone to be able to pack their laptops and go where they’re going to go. We may all be quarantined and you want to be able to keep your practice up.
So that, I think that that convinces them, but they still have a warehouse full of old files. So in the old days we would give them the file retention ethics informational packet to let them know how long that they were required to keep different parts of the file and typically — it was about six years.
A lot of people that have moved into storing all of this electronically forget that they also need — that you shouldn’t just let it be out there forever because you talked about the breaches. What does someone do — how do we explain that to them that there’s going to have to be a policy of also deleting.
Karla Eckardt: Right, right, the records, it’s often referred to as the Records and Information Management Program. So why is that important, and how does a small firm get started in establishing such a policy within their firm when they don’t have experts or an entire IT company to help them with that?
John Montaña: Well, those are great questions, and that’s a great topic, because data security really begins with good information governance and good information management, for a lot of pretty simple and pretty obvious reasons I think.
First of all, when you talk about that records retention schedule and disposing of old files, it’s worth bearing in mind that a simple fact, an obvious fact is that the less information you have, the less information there is in case of a breach.
So if you’re preserving old files from closed representations that no longer have any value to you or to the client, and they’re just sitting out there whether they’re in a virtual repository or in a physical repository if there — they can be compromised and notwithstanding the fact that the representation is closed and the retention period required by law is over with, there could still be lots of confidential information in there that your client does not want made public, and that can include business records, that it could include attorney-client communications, or it could include all kinds of things.
So one of the first reasons you want to have a records retention schedule is just to minimize any data loss in the event there is a security incident because they do happen.
Second of all, there’s the question of organization. You can’t manage it if you can’t find it, I think that’s pretty obvious, right. That’s the reason that law firms have filing systems and filing personnel is to make sure everything is well organized, because if you lose it you can’t find it.
And one of the things you see in off-site storage particularly when records get boxed up and going to warehouses is that they are not well organized and they are not well identified and that creates problems both from the retrieval standpoint if you ever have to find them, but also from a records retention standpoint and other management standpoints, because to the extent you have some sort of rule pertaining to a file, you can’t apply the rule if you don’t know where the file is and you don’t have it labeled properly.
So records management starts at a very basic level of simply making sure you have a good organizational scheme and then enforcing that organizational scheme upon your records including when they go to whatever terminal storage you may have whether it’s an off-site storage facility or a storage room in your firm or whatever the case might be, but all of these things, to go back to your larger question — so you’ve got these paper records and you can certainly digitize them.
It is possible to scan these paper files if you want to do that and turn them into electronic files in PDF format or some other format and that’s a great thing to do, because those records are much more available to you if they’re that way, because you don’t have to go find the box, you don’t have to find a folder, if they’re correctly identified, if they’re properly organized, they’re at your fingertips no matter where you may be.
So that’s one of the reasons, a really attractive reason to go to electronic records whether they’re scans of paper records or their electronic in their original format, you can access them remotely and I have done that myself. I’ve accessed my client related records from rural Africa for example or from Europe, and in all kinds of different places on a laptop.
So it makes remote working much easier, it makes remote collaboration much easier, it makes a lot of things easier, but then we go back to the whole security issue once we start doing that, because all of those laptops, all of those mobile devices, all of those remote locations that you can work from, become potential security weak points.
And so your ethical duty to manage things in an appropriate fashion from a confidentiality standpoint, security standpoint extends to all of those locations.
So although working electronically from remote locations is a great idea you have to be mindful of the fact that your security umbrella has to reach all of those locations as well.
Christine Bilbrey: And if you were advising a small to mid-sized firm who is ready to do this but they have — so they’re currently everything they’re saving is electronic, but they do need to go through their old files. What does it look like if you’re advising them? Do you get them to lease a room full of scanners and get some interns and or do you — can you hire a third party to come in and do this for you? What are their options, and is this going to become prohibitively expensive, what are some options for them when they’re at that moment?
John Montaña: Well, the first thing you want to do because yes, it can become very expensive if this is not done well. The first thing you want to do is to the extent that there’s a records retention schedule and by the way if you don’t have a records retention schedule, you should have a records retention schedule, but the first thing you want to do is purge, purge, purge, because the one thing you want to avoid, because it does get costly and time-consuming, you don’t want to scan things that you don’t need to scan and the one set of things you for sure don’t need to scan or otherwise digitize are the things whose records retention period has expired, because you’ll be scanning them and basically throwing them away which makes no sense whatsoever and will cost you money.
So the first thing you do is purge, purge, purge and really trim down the data set as much as you possibly can in terms of the absolute size of what you’re working with.
The second thing you want to do, is do some reasonable analysis of utility, because the thing that scanning does for you is it makes things available very easily and quickly and in remote locations, that’s its chief advantage. Not every old client file needs those kinds of characteristics. So even though its retention period may not have run, a file and oftentimes a high percentage of your files really do not justify scanning, because you’ll be scanning them and then never looking at any of the images just like you’re never looking at any of the paper files.
So the first way that you save money and gain efficiency is by really making some good hard tough decisions about what is appropriately scanned and what is not appropriately scanned and then limit your scanning activities to that material from which you will really benefit from the scanning.
After that, how you do it sort of depends on your resources and your appetite for managing a fairly complex project, because in order to scan things effectively and efficiently, one, you need some space, because you have to set up high-speed production scanners if it’s any large amount of material and you have to have some personnel that know what they’re doing, because people have to run the scans through, they have to quality check them, they have to index them, they have to attach metadata fields and some other things so the scans are useful to you.
So that requires a team of skilled people that know what they’re doing. The team can be small or large depending on the size of the job, but they do have to have those characteristics.
So those are the first two things, and of course, if you’re doing that in-house that assumes that you have those personnel and that space and the appropriate equipment all of which it may cost you some money, and may not have any ongoing use or not as much of ongoing use.
Your alternative to that is to hire a service bureau, and there are a great many service bureaus that offer this kind of service that will digitize old records for you and they have it all set up, they’ve got the personnel who do this all the time, so they know the drill and they know the quality check procedures and they do all the stuff that is necessary.
And that may be an attractive option if it’s a big one-off job that is going to consume a lot of resources for a couple of months and then maybe not be as large afterwards. And after you’ve done that initial big job, then maybe you can think about taking it in-house because the volume is so much lower and one person can do it as a part-time job or something like that, but that initial one is going to require if you’ve got a lot of paper records that are legacy records, that initial job may be a big job and it may be more cost-effective and involve a significantly less brain damage if you hire a service bureau that knows what they’re doing.
Again, you have to check, you want to make sure it’s a quality service bureau that knows the drill and has some experience with law firms, but there’s no shortage of them particularly in big cities.
Karla Eckardt: When you were talking about, you know, maybe not all files needing to be scanned I just want to make sure that our members are aware that the Florida Bar Ethics Department actually has an informational packet on closed files that goes over best practices. It has a model retention policy, not every file, there’s no bright-line rule about how long you must keep every file. There’s a certain type of file that you must be kept and that amount of time is six years and it’s trust account records, statement of insured clients’ rights, contingent fee contracts and closing statements, I think that’s it.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah, and if you’re doing wills and estates, that’s a whole other —
Karla Eckardt: And will — so a lot of times we get calls saying, well, I have 30 years worth of files, how am I going to get all that scanned? And the first question I ask is why do you have 30 years worth of files? So it’s really important that you pointed that out because not every document needs to be scanned and maybe for some people it may be that it’s better to set a date to where they start going paperless and start using digital files, and maybe slowly start converting older files, so it’s not this giant project that seems insurmountable. So that was really important that you mentioned that not all files need to be digitized. So thank you for that.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah, I want to drill down just for a second because we do have people at all different knowledge levels, because people practice law into their 90’s now, so we do have people, I believe everyone is pretty much all using a computer now, don’t call us and tell us if you’re not. But, back when I was still in the law firm and everybody was scanning away, they didn’t realize later on that the way they were scanning so there’s documents that are just a photograph that can’t be searched, and can you talk about that, because I think some people don’t realize that some of the stuff they stored is not completely — you can’t search with inside the document, can you just touch on that for people?
John Montaña: Oh, oh, yeah, yeah, that’s one of many problems you run into, and then this is a reason that maybe you want to hire a service bureau, right, because in order for a scanning project to work effectively you have to get a lot of stuff right, and that is one of them.
And so, let’s talk about PDFs. There are two kinds of PDFs. There are searchable PDFs and there are non-searchable PDFs. A non-searchable PDF is basically just a picture, you’re right, and although you could use optical character recognition which will look at that picture and identify the letters and create a text file that can be searched, that’s a whole other discussion that you really don’t want to get into. It will cause much more brain damage, believe me.
A searchable PDF is basically that picture file but on the back end where you can’t see it, is a text file and that’s why you can search some PDFs, because you’re not searching the picture you’re looking at on the page, you’re searching a text file, which is hidden in the background. Searchable PDFs take up much more space than flat files, but that space is probably worth it to you, because one of the things you’ll discover particularly if you have not taken the trouble to really assign good metadata and good organizational practice to your images is that flat PDFs, that is to say non-searchable PDFs in a big collection are next to impossible to locate.
And I can name some names about people that made that mistake and then discovered it was a big catastrophic mistake when it came time to do some organizational stuff and some searches based on privacy requirements and that sort of thing and they discovered all their PDFs were non-searchable. So do get that correct and make sure you understand what you’re getting into or hire a service bureau that knows what they’re doing and let them do it for you, because if you make that mistake and you’ve imaged 10 million pages of documents and then you discover you had the setting wrong you will suffer pain.
Christine Bilbrey: Okay, John, and because I have you the expert here at hand, I’m going to take a step further into this rabbit hole, because a lot of the work at the Florida Bar is done by committees and the committees go out, they research things, they discuss it and they make recommendations for rule changes.
So we have the Florida Courts Technology Commission doing that type of work and so one of the hot topics going on at the FCTC is PDF versus PDF/A. Can you tell our listeners what that even means so that when they see that down the pike, they’ll know what we’re talking about?
John Montaña: Well, that’s a good question —
Christine Bilbrey: Because it’s coming into play because if — you can manipulate some PDFs, so like if you have the right software, people say, oh well, I deleted the metadata and I — this one is locked down, there’s nothing you can — nobody can change this, so when I file it, it can’t be changed, and then if you have Adobe Pro here you click a few buttons, and oh gosh, now I can alter that.
John Montaña: Well, that’s correct, that’s always been true. The idea that a PDF can be is, or any image file is, is a kind of absolute secure unchangeable data object has never been true, and you’re right. I’ve got some software on my computer that allows me to edit PDFs, I do it all the time.
So, what’s you are really talking about is enhanced security here, and that’s a good idea, there’s certainly nothing wrong with a more secure type of situation, but I’m not sure you want to necessarily rely on that. I’m not necessarily sure you need to rely on that, because the fact of the matter is that paper documents are not particularly secure either and its security is almost always a process issue, it’s not a format issue, it’s a process issue.
So, if you’re thinking about security think about passwords and access control and things like that. I don’t know that changing format is going to get you much to anyplace, honestly.
Karla Eckardt: Right, and I think it’s important for our listeners to remember that regardless of what you do check your documents metadata and make sure you remove it, and if you don’t know how to do that, Google it, call us, there are any number of resources on how to remove metadata from documents, I think that’s always the ultimate goal when it comes to that whole PDF, PDF/A discussion and ultimately yes, we can Photoshop just about anything these days.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah, people don’t — they don’t realize what they’re giving away in that metadata.
Karla Eckardt: Right.
Christine Bilbrey: So like, if our listeners, if your eyes have glazed over just come to LegalFuel.com because you do need to be aware of this even if you think it doesn’t apply to you, you don’t know what you’re handing over to the opposing counsel.
John Montaña: Oh, that is so true and that’s actually even a worse problem if you are sending someone a Word document, there’s something like that, because all sorts of changes and comments and things like that, that you really do not want to be handing to anybody are very carefully preserved in things like Word processing documents and have to be stripped out, if you’re going to be sending around Word processing documents. So that’s certainly a comment that applies to any format.
Make sure that if you’re sending something to opposing counsel or to some other adverse party whoever they may be that you do not have inadvertent information hiding in the background, because if it’s there, there’s a good chance that you will have waived confidentiality with respect to it, if you carelessly disseminate it.
Karla Eckardt: So let’s go back to the scenario where we have a law firm that buys a whole bunch of scanners and interns to scan and so on and so forth and they’re all electronic for all intents and purposes, they work on laptops, they got scanners, no printers because we’re not using paper.
So now the equipment, the electronic equipment has come to the end of its lifecycle and it’s time to dispose of said equipment. There is a Florida Ethics Opinion 10-2 that says a lawyer who chooses to use devices that contain storage media such as printers, copiers, scanners and fax machines must take reasonable steps to ensure that client confidentiality is maintained and that the device is sanitized before disposition. How do you sanitize a device? I think that’s the question that we get most often?
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah, can I do it on my own or do I need to turn it over to someone?
John Montaña: You can certainly do it on your own if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing you probably want to have someone do it who does know what they’re doing. I have to say it’s getting easier. I sanitized a laptop just last week it was an Apple laptop and there’s actually a utility in current Mac operating systems that allows you not only to delete the data on the laptop but — or the computer generally.
But more importantly to overwrite that data as many as 10 times. So the data is not just deleted from which state it can still be recovered, but then random data is overwritten a number of times so that the data is truly obliterated.
With things like copiers and other types of secondary devices, yeah, there’s still a lot of information on those things, because they all have a memory these days and sometimes it’s a pretty big memory.
And of course, if you’re photocopying things in a law firm — one of the things that’s in that memory is your information from your representations which is confidential.
All of that memory is going to reside on a chip of some kind someplace or in a Flash memory these days, how exactly you get to it, it is going to be device dependent, so you’re going to have to do a little research depending on your particular device and some of it may not be easy, because not everybody has realized that this is a problem yet. So you’re going to have to do various kinds of things, but again, you’re going to have to look at the particular device in question, I would suggest that in many cases the sanitation device can be a hammer.
Karla Eckardt: Yes one always fails, a drill or hammer.
John Montaña: Yeah, because one of the biggest places that this can occur is portable flash drives, right, and if you go to any professional conference, you will get — these days a trinkets, they hand them out, right. And I was thinking about this one time few years ago and I looked in my own laptop case just to see how many of these things I had and I had like 25 of them. And I started looking on them to see what was on them and sure enough I had like most people do or at least be most people a few years ago used to do is we were transferring files back and forth in meetings using Flash drives and so there was all kinds of random stuff on these things having do with my work.
And I took every one of them out and I smashed them to bits with a hammer, right, and that was the solution. With a computer hard drive that may be the solution as well or and certainly with anything else because in a lot of cases you take like a camera these days, there’s a little chip in there you can pull and there’s going to be some version of that in virtually every device including a hard drive on a computer.
There’s actually a big industry these days. When corporations for example, retire computers and laptops they pull the hard drives and those are sent to a destruction facility in there they are pulverized. That’s not a bad practice, because when it’s pulverized it’s not going to be breached right.
So do enough research on your device, if you’ve got a printer in your office, that’s got any sort of memory there’s going to be a little hatch someplace and you can probably pull that memory card out of it, but if you don’t know how to do that, by all means acquire the services of someone who does know how to do it, because if you send that thing onto the aftermarket however you do it and it’s got that stuff on there you have just committed an ethical violation in a data breach.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah and I want to suggest to the firms that are leasing their commercial copiers, the hammer method is, it’s not advice and just because your contract is expired and you’re ready to get a new one, the information that’s been left on there is your problem, don’t assume the person’s —
Karla Eckardt: A lot of times they don’t even know that there’s information on there, they’re surprised so that they can reprint something that they printed a week ago.
Christine Bilbrey: Yeah, but when they come get your old copier because you’ve gotten the latest greatest new one and your new contract is started, you don’t realize that you’re handing off every single thing that you ever —
Karla Eckardt: Right, right. Do the research, check the manual. Manuals are online these days, find out how to properly sanitize the device whatever that device may be, whether it’s a laptop, whether it’s a Flash drive, whether it’s a printer or scanner, whatever it may be, there are resources to help you figure out how to sanitize.
And I just want to touch base on one more thing again for any listener who just says this is way over my head, there are companies and John you mentioned service bureaus out there, Access being one of them, we mentioned them in your bio earlier, that provide these services, they can guide you through this whole process.
Yes, it will cost money, nothing is free and when it is you should be concerned at least when it comes to your client files, but there are companies out there that specialized in this. So if you can’t or won’t go ahead and make this move, reach out to these companies because there’s multiple levels of service undoubtably, so they may not help you for all of time but maybe they can help onboard you and get you started. So I think that’s really important for our listeners to know that they are not alone and they are not necessarily expected to handle these processes all on their own.
John Montaña: Well that’s exactly right. If you are a lawyer, your area of expertise is law and as an expert the old saying is out there, the man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client, right, and we all know that’s true, that the reason people hire lawyers is because they need experts.
If you’re a lawyer, hopefully you understand that and you should recognize that you need an expert sometimes too and that you don’t want to get into things where you don’t have that expertise when experts are available that can guide you through it appropriately.
So yeah, if you’re not comfortable doing these things, if you don’t know how to do these things, if you don’t know where to start, there are lots of experts out there that can do it for you and do it better and quicker and cheaper probably than you can, because they don’t have the learning curve, they have the confidence and they’ve got the tools, and that’s the other thing you’ll discover about some of these things is that will require tools whether they’re software tools or something else. If you don’t have those tools and you’re not sure about how to acquire them, right then and there you start needing an expert because they can guide you through that.
Christine Bilbrey: Excellent and even if you don’t understand it you still have a duty to your clients to take care of it. So find yourself an expert. Well it looks like we’ve reached the end of our program. Thank you John Montaña for joining us today.
John Montaña: My pleasure.
Christine Bilbrey: If our listeners have questions, where can they find you or relevant records management resources?
John Montaña: Well, there are a number of organizations. First of all, there is ARMA International which is the Association of Records Professionals. There is AIIM, the Association for Information and Image Management, which is a great organization, which is primarily focused with technology by the way. So they’re a great resource if you’re looking for technology solutions.
You can always find me on the web. My email address is john.montana, it doesn’t have the ñ, don’t apply that, something bad will happen on the Internet. [email protected]. By the way the ñ is, that’s a whole other thing. I did a show for the Association of Medical Professionals and about how characters like that caused problems in computer systems which it does, but anyway be that as it may.
So my email address is [email protected]. You can always find me there. I’m easy to find on the web and on LinkedIn, so look me up, I’m always happy to chat.
Christine Bilbrey: Excellent. If you like what you heard today, please rate us in Apple podcast. Join us next time for another episode of the Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by LegalFuel, the Practice Resource Center of the Florida Bar.
I’m Christine Bilbrey.
Karla Eckardt: And I’m Karla Eckhart. Until next time thank you for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Center and produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.
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The official podcast of the State Bar of Florida.
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John Montaña answers common questions about law firm data storage in an increasingly digital practice.
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