Closing A File: Creating A Checklist That Works For You
For an attorney or a paralegal, one of the most exciting times is when a file is being closed. Once you have finished up on a case, while hopefully being successful in the process, it is time to start closing the file.
In order to best close a file, there are some steps you should follow so that everything is properly squared away. Whether you do this yourself or have someone close files for you, it is crucial that you have a written policy on how this should be done. Being organized and having cohesive files will ease the process should you ever have to go back to those files in the future.
The following are some tips to consider when creating a file-closing procedure policy:
Determine When a File is Closed
The file can only be considered closed when specific actions have been completed. First, the case must be fully settled in one way or another. In addition, all bills payable must be settled with you. Do not close a file until you have been paid in full.
In addition, you should be sure that all refundable fees have been paid by you. This can include any advanced payments that were made for services that were not rendered.
Develop a Checklist
The first thing you should do is develop a checklist. This checklist will state all the steps that must be taken in order to properly close a file. Anyone who deals with the files should have access to the checklist and should be properly trained on how to thoroughly close a file.
Complete a Closing Memo
You can create a memo that sums up your involvement in the case. This is simply a short document that describes your role in the representation. This is located near the front of the file for easy access.
Do a Thorough Clean Out
As you are going through the file, do a good clean out of any unnecessary documents. Purge any copies that are not needed. Also, remove any bulky items, like tabs or paper clips.
Officially Close the File
Once you have gone through your checklist, you can officially close the file. You will need to assign the file a ticket number and enter it into your docking system. You can mark it closed with a colored stamp or use your preferred system for closed files. You should also create a date for the destruction of the file. List that date on the front of the file.
For more information, contact a center such as American Legal Forms.