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Record Retention

Total General: .50 Total Professional Responsibility: .50
Lawyers and firms manage large amounts of documents, both paper and digital. The volume and complexity of managing records has only increased with the impact of technology.

Managing the records of a firm is critical. It starts with having a good records management plan that details the firm’s policies and procedures for managing and maintaining records for the entire life-cycle of all documents and data handled by the firm, from creation to final disposition. A crucial component of such an overall records management plan is the retention and destruction of closed client matters. What client files must a lawyer or firm keep and for how long are questions that have long plagued lawyers. In this e-learning program, we’ll focus on the management of records at the end of a client matter: the closing, storage and destruction of client files. Resources on building a records management plan are provided to your right.   

In this program, you will learn:
  • The key elements of an effective file retention and destruction plan;
  • Setting retention periods;
  • Organizing and maintaining files in storage; and
  • Proper file destruction procedures.
Important MCLE Notice: This Program was originally released as a PMBR (2020-2021) module. If you have previously viewed this Program as a PMBR (2020-2021) module and received a Certificate of Completion, you may only claim MCLE credit once for this Program within a 12-month period. The ARDC reports individual attorney attendance to the MCLE Board by the 5th of the month subsequent to the date of completion of the MCLE program (for example, September events will be reported by October 5).
Narrator: Mary F. Andreoni, Senior Ethics Education Counsel, ARDC
Video Presenter: Jeremy N. Boeder, Partner, Tripler Orpett & Meyer
Springfield, Illinois photographs provided by: Jim Burton, Senior Investigator, ARDC
Sample Forms
Ethics Opinions
  • ISBA Opinions on Client Files:
    Op. 94-13–Discussing the categories of a lawyer’s investigative file, and whether a client may reasonably request and is entitled to receive the lawyer's investigative materials created in the course of the representation
    Op. 94-14–Ethical obligations and other considerations of returning client papers upon termination, including what a lawyer may retain at lawyer’s expense and what a lawyer may copy for client at client’s expense
    Op. 12-06–Discussing retention and destruction of financial records and case files
    Op. 16-06–Obligations when using cloud-based services
  • ISBA Opinion on Confidentiality and Cloud Storage:
    Op. 10-01–Discussing a law firm’s ethical obligations regarding confidential information when using a third-party technology vendor