Most attorneys have become inundated with emails from clients, opposing counsel, and the courts. Additionally, with the proliferation of smartphones, the same can be said for text messages. Clients and counsel are now using emails and texts as their chief method of communicating. Email threads and text message threads should be captured, retained, archived and kept within the digital case file folder (the client’s folder of documents on your pc).
This is may seem like a bit of a stretch, but retrain your brain to think of an email and a text, as a document. As soon as you think of an email and text as a document, all of the same principles apply to traditional documents; how you need to save documents into client case files and archive client case files. You can also apply similar policies and procedures to emails and texts as you would a document. Emails and texts should go into the same folder structure and client case file folder as your other documents for the matter. You should not have to go to multiple locations to search for them.
With regards to email, there are several ways to get an email into the digital case file folder. You could go “old school” and print the email and have someone scan the email into the case file folder. I think this is laborious and definitely not a good method, although I have seen attorney’s and their staff using this method. You could do a “Save As” on the email and save the email out to the client folder structure to the location of the matter file folder.
Many attorneys create a folder within their Outlook Inbox and drag emails for a client matter to the appropriate client folder. Although this is not a bad method, Outlook is not an ever ending repository for all client emails. Additionally, you have the issue that different individuals within the firm receive emails about a case and you would have to go to each firm Outlook Inbox to retrieve all of the emails regarding a matter.
A better, more effective way to retain email within a client case folder is to implement a document management system; such as, Worldox Document Management Software. As you send and receive email, with one easy step, you can save the email to the appropriate case. If there is an attachment, the attachment will be saved as a document to the case, too. The emails are fully searchable, just like all of the other documents; Word files, PDF’s, etc.
Text messages are a little different than email. To capture a text message or text message thread, you need to use a product like Decipher TextMessage ($30) by Decipher Tools. Decipher TextMessage allows you to copy text message threads from your iTunes, iPhone, iPad, or Android to a HTML file or a text file. The date and time of the message, along with the contact information of the sender and any other receivers. Decipher TextMessage will capture the entire text thread. You can save the text file or HTML file in your client case folder. It becomes part of your digital case file. If you use Worldox or another document management system software, you can save the text message thread as a text file or HTML file using Decipher TextMessage and attach it to the case. The text is now preserved within the document management software and is fully searchable just like your other documents.
Emails and text messages are documents and contain important information as part of the case file. Improve your methods of saving these critical pieces of information that should be maintained as part of the case file!
Alicia A. Slade, MS, MBA, is the President of Plummer Slade, Inc., a computer networking and IT solutions firm providing IT services to hundreds of law offices since 1988. Plummer Slade is exclusively endorsed for IT Solutions by the Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA).