South Carolina blogger and SC Bar practice advisor, Courtney Kennaday, has posted actual photographs of a deceased lawyer's office recently taken by the lawyer appointed to close down the practice after the solo lawyer died suddenly. This is exactly the type of nightmare that Courtney and I wrote about in our article When You Go to Heaven, Will your Practice Go to Hell? earlier this year.
- Develop a file storage procedure: Define what type of document needs to be kept in the office, what needs to go into archives, and what can be ethically discarded. File storage companies such as Iron Mountain and your state bar practice management advisor have resources to help you with this process.
- Set time on your calendar to slowly tackle the mess. Set aside a hour a day or a morning or afternoon a week. Don't overwrite that time with other matters.
- Work through each stack of files and boxes following your file storage protocol. As you put documents in new boxes, make sure the boxes are labeled for easy retrieval.
- Do not keep client files in your basement, attic, or garage. If you must retain the files and have run out of storage space in your office, use a file storage company to confidentially maintain the boxes and help you keep them organized for later retrieval.