When a case is complete, the next step is to close the case file. This is an exciting time for legal professionals, as it essentially wraps up a lot of hard and, hopefully, successful work. There are several steps involved with closing a case file. The following are some tips to do so efficiently:
Create a File Closing Policy and Procedure
If your firm does not yet have one, you need to create a closure policy and procedure. This ensures all files have the same amount of time and effort. The process also makes sure you have closed out and confirmed all aspects of the case so you do not miss any critical issues later on which can cause you to reopen the file.
Be sure everyone in the office has a copy of the policy and procedure for file closings to ensure there is conformance in your system.
Create a Checklist
The first step in closing a file is to refer to your file closing checklist. This is helpful to everyone because it makes sure you do not leave out any important steps in closing a file.
Begin the Closing
Once you begin to close the file, make sure all actions have completed and all bills are paid in full. Enclosing a file memo is an ideal thing to do. A file memo includes a short summary of how you were involved in the case. This acts as a permanent record of your representation. You may even just include this information on the file label.
Next, make sure you have written confirmation and any insurrections from the client. Keep in mind that the file belongs to the client, even once it is closed. If you want to make a copy for yourself, you may do so but will have to pay for any costs associated with copying.
Create a closed file stamp or color coding system to show the file is closed and separate from open files.
The next step is to place the closed file in your docket system. You may want to set the file up for review within a certain amount of time to make sure nothing is left undone. If you have any pending deadlines, be sure to note that.
You also need to place the file on your calendar for file destruction and write the date on the claim folder. Place the date in the client's index, as well as in the other party's index, to make sure you have no conflict of interest.
Before you close the file, remove any paperwork that are duplicates. Doing so will significantly reduce the size of the file. Also, remove any paper clips, tabs, or binders to help reduce the file size. You may also want to consider switching hard copies of the documents in the file to electronic to help save additional space. Contact a supplier, like American Legal Forms, for more help.
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