Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shred, Shred, Shred!

Shredder Envy!  The Swingline 250x
Do you have a shredder?  I do.  In fact I have two.  Everything that does not go in to a client file goes into the shredder.  Draft documents, extra photo copies, notes that are no longer needed.  In to the shredder it all goes.  In fact I even shred junk mail.  Why bother?

First, to maintain the confidentiality of my clients' information and my work product.  Take a look at the dumpster outside your office.  I bet you will see nice, readable pieces of paper laying on the ground -- paper that did not make its way into the dump truck hopper.  Drive behind a dump truck some day.  You will be surprised how much pristine paper flutters out of the back.  Go to the dump.  Reams of confidential information lying all around.

Second, while we may not deal with a whole lot of corporate espionage in family law practice, I can assure you that disgruntled spouses are hacking in to the email accounts of their exes, conducting surveillance on their computers, and going through their mailboxes and mail. What's to stop an obsessive ex from going through your garbage looking for info about an estranged spouse or a case?

Third, identity theft is a real problem.  Legal documents are not immune.  How many of you still leave social security numbers and bank account numbers un-redacted on your court filings? Not too many of you.  Failing to take the same precautions with your garbage is an oversight.  And don't forget about the junk mail!  How many pre-approved credit card mailings do you get per month?  Credit report ads?  Mortgage insurance solicitations?  Many times that junk mailed is filled with confidential information about you.  Information that identity thieves can exploit.

Am I being paranoid?  Perhaps.  I prefer to think of it as cautious vigilance.  The shredders we use cost about $75 each.  They can handle about 10 pages at a time.  They can also chop up expired credit cards, and DVDs that we no longer need.  For mega jobs we call in a shredding service.  The shredder truck arrives, and for about $10 each a bankers box full of documents is obliterated in a couple of seconds, right there on site.

Next up for me will be a more robust shredder. At the futurelawyer blog Rick Georges sings praises about the Swingline 250x shredder.  At $1250 it ain't cheap.  However, it can chomp up to 250 pages automatically.  Just dump the stack in the tray, and let 'er rip!

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1 comment:

Ruby Badcoe said...

“I prefer to think of it as cautious vigilance.” – I certainly agree. It is not a bad idea to be careful and cautious when you are handling sensitive documents. For lawyers, confidentiality and the trust given by their clients are important; thus, these must be upheld even in handling their clients’ documents. When you properly dispose of these papers, you are protecting your clients and your reputation.

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