How to Create an E-File Name for Your Law Office

When it comes to wasted time we are all in the same boat; no one in the court system has time to waste. Efficiency is a pet peeve of mine right down to file name etiquette. If everyone used the same convention for naming files everyone who received or has to locate and open an e-file would save time. So today I am going to suggest how we can all save each other time.

Learn and Practice Time Management

Recently I received a file attached to an email. The email was sent by a referring lawyer's staff. She is good at what she does, but she could get better. The subject line of her email contained the client’s name so I knew into which client’s e-folder it should be downloaded. What I could not determine is into which subfolder it should be downloaded. The name on the attachments gave me no clue as to whether what was in it would be an accident investigative report, medical records, medical bills or some other document type. You might think this is a minor inconvenience, but when you consider the attachments would need to be downloaded, opened, renamed and then moved into the proper folders; and then multiply this effort throughout the year by 1,000 emails containing attachments the time really adds up.

If you ask me I would rather use my time to do other things so let’s talk about the how to save time.

First know that in each and every client e-folder we use subfolders titled correspondence, pleadings, discovery, depositions, medical and investigation subfolders in each client file.

Here is how you should be creating a name for any file, you put inside a subfolder.

Second, the file names you forward to someone else, including those of zip files, should give an indication as to what is inside the file/folder. This saves time for all involved when downloading the file so the recipient will understand into which folder to download it and will be less likely to have to rename it to any great degree. The name should make it obvious into which subfolder to save the attachment.

Subfolders Might Include These Names:

  • Medical Records
  • Police Report
  • Medical Bills
  • Photographs
  • Petition
  • Interrogatories
  • Discovery
  • Depositions
  • Correspondence

You get the gist. Also know that whichever date the document contains I try to include in the file name. So if this were the police report created on April 2, 2015 I would show the date on the report and the name. (Example: 2015.04.02. DesMoinesPoliceReport). Using this file name I would know exactly where to download it to and would probably not have to rename it. Later if someone were looking for the Des Moines Police Investigation Report they could quickly locate the correct file in the investigation subfolder.

Now Let Us Create a PDF Document Name

If the subject line of the email did not contain the client name the file names would be titled with the client name. (Example: 2015.04.02. Police Report. SmithJohn)

There Is Another Benefit To Your Using a Naming Convention

If you use this convention with all the documents in a folder they will sort themselves by chronological order. We do this on all our e-file documents making it very easy to locate whichever digital document you need. Doing this saves us all time and makes file management easier.

If everyone did this we would all have an extra day to take a vacation. Now get busy renaming your folders and files. And enforce the convention with everyone working with your files.

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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