Save money – destroy old files

Question: How can I get rid of old files and save storage costs?

Answer: The question is a great question! Unfortunately, the answer is not always simple. Here are some observations, however, that might put the issue into perspective.

1. Bring in outside people to do this task; do not disturb the normal flow of your office procedures and current work flow. Engage a disabled person. This provides the person(s) so engaged with an income s/he might not otherwise have and you can generally pay a lower rate than for other folks.

2. Consider using a photocopy machine. Some large companies provide the scanning capability and do not charge a fee unless and until a photocopy is actually made. Scanning and placing files into a .pdf format is not deemed printing photocopies.

3. Begin with the oldest files first, reduce storage space and thereby save on real estate costs.

4. Be sure to have a lawyer or someone with the requisite knowledge review the files and remove all original documents before destruction of the files after scanning.

5. Consult the Rules of Professional Conduct and ethics opinions of your jurisdiction to verify the time for retention of files. After this date and your scanning process, destroy the files.

6. Do more than merely place files and old boxes into a dumpster. Consider hiring a file storage house to shred your tossed files.

7. After all this, consider the following observation by a colleague: “I am in the arduous process of scanning older files and so far, this is what I’ve found out: I have scanned 9,261 pages which is about 270 Mb of data. This is 179 files (about 130 client matters), which fit into about 5 1/2 bankers’ boxes. All of these files were scanned into .pdf format. I have created an archive spreadsheet in Excel, so it is easy to track a document’s location.
Obviously, at this rate a CD is the optimal storage media, because a DVD would basically be too much. Good luck, it’s pretty time consuming.”


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