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Even in a paperless world, those in the legal profession still must maintain their clients’ confidentiality. That means paperwork must be maintained, even when there’s no room for it on the law firm’s premises. While ideally there is less paper being stored with each passing year, it’s important to remember those files from two, three or five years ago that do pose a security problem. Many law firms have routinely chosen storage facilities that provided the safeguards to keep private information..well, private. But then again, what about those firms that, for many reasons, require an on-site employee to ensure the confidentiality? Compliance laws vary from one sector to another and from one state to another. A. Harrison Barnes says many firms across the country take no chances – either in their choice of facilities or those they hire to protect their clientele. He offers this advice for those who are now considering hiring a full time, onsite employee to oversee those documents.

“First things first; it’s important to choose an appropriate storage facility”, says Barnes. You want to be sure it’s close enough to access on a daily basis if needed. The security of area is crucial. Does it offer cameras? What about the locks? You also want to choose a warehouse that allows room to grow, since you’ll certainly be adding to it over time. You’ll be purging, of course, but the last thing you want to do is revisit this five years from now only to realize you’ve outgrown the facility and a new expense has presented itself. If you’re storing paper, books, electronics or other temperature sensitive items, consider a climate controlled space. This protects you, your clients and your investment.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when looking for the right personnel to keep things clean, organized and safe in your off-site storage facility.

• Naturally, a background check is your first order of business. Anyone with a questionable past is quickly eliminated. Many law firms also conduct credit checks, too, says the founder.

• Ideally, you’ll find someone who’s worked with sensitive information in the past and is aware of the technicalities and nuances involved with keeping documents secure. Many retired police officers will often look for positions such as these. Barnes reminds law firms to consider the employees who are a part of the team – it’s more than just lawyers and paralegals looking for new career opportunities .

• Don’t forget the confidentiality agreements, says A. Harrison Barnes.

• You’ll also need to decide if you want around the clock security or just day security. This will depend on a number of factors, including the security precautions, such as cameras and fences, you employ.

• Define these employees duties clearly. Will they be responsible for instituting a filing system? Who else has access to the warehouse and what will they be expected to prove to your security team?

The fact is, you likely will never encounter a stranger who approaches your storage facility with the goal of stealing divorce proceedings or adoption cases you’ve handled in the past, but there is always the risk of fire and flood and even vandals. Covering your bases now is the best way to keep any kind of damages from ensuing. Eventually, as you purge those paper files from years past, your need for storage will decrease as well since we’re becoming more dependent on back up tapes and other electronic devices to store important legal information.

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