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ARTICLE REVIEW

Lee R, Nemchek. (2005). Critical Issues in legal records management: A mid-decade review.
Practice Innovations: Managing in a changing legal environment, 6. (4), 1-4. Minnesota: West
Publishing Corporation.

Article Reviewed by: Norasikin Abdul Wahab [2007119317]

April 09th, 2010.

In this article, Ms. Nemchek, the information resources manager from Morrison & Foerster
(Mofo.com), has begin the article by highlighting that the unfortunate event of Sept 11, 2001 has
been a kick start of the corporate records management to the age of professional discipline. She
has also urged that every legal or law firm to heavily involved in the records management
compliance matters, helping clients deal with new laws and regulations designed to ensure that
corporations do not repeat the same mistakes of the past (before the Sept 11, 2001) In the
introduction, Nemchek also mentioned that, the focus on records management has had a
tremendous marketing and public relations effect on record management (RM) professional in all
industries (Nemchek, 2005).She also highlighted, due to the rapid changes in technology and
digitization, has indirectly requires all legal and law firms to be firmed about record-keeping
practices in their organizations.

Continues from the introduction section, she has listed, top five (5) issues in legal records
management. There are: RFID Technology, outsourcing, practice area development, Electronic
Records Management (ERM), and Electronic Data Discovery (EDD). Again, the key of
Nemchek’s article is to identify critical issues in legal records management as we are already past
a decade of 21th century.

First point is the RFID technology. In her writing, she has given an example in a library, even
though library has fully converted to bar coding technology, librarians still having problem like
tracking the movement of materials within and outside library organization. As in a case of law
firms, misplacing and losing a client file can potentially be hundreds of thousands of dollars,
therefore the RFID technology is understood to be the ultimate solution of these problems. RFID
technology is known to be able to check all incoming folders or files simultaneously, without
anyone having to touch the folders. As of today, installation of RFID system in law firm is still in
the midst of standardization, cost review and few privacy issues. Regards to legal records
principles, personal records, for instance an evident, should maintain in a secure environment,
and law firms has to consider on the provisioning and retention of records to ensure that personal
information can be retained for any evidential matter and etcetera.
Second point is outsourcing the legal record management division/department. What have I
heard at the end of 1990’s outsourcing especially in ITSM (Information Technology Service
Management) has grown tremendously in Malaysia. I myself has experienced the outsourcing
environment and involved in the transition process, of handing over the outsourcing project to
other outsourcing company. Now, it is another window of outsourcing, particularly in law field. It is
known that many western countries like to pick India, and some SEA countries to be their hub of
outsourcing services, this is for sure due to our labor rate much more cheaper and those
countries have people who can talk English very well and willingly to work in odd hours. For
example, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), has outsourced their IT infrastructure into two hub,
one in Chennai and the other one in Malaysia (known as IT365 Sdn Bhd. located at TPM, Bukit
Jalil – subsidiary of SCB (M)).

In Nemchek’s article, she stressed that, due to this outsourcing trends, it has created a multi-
billion dollar outsourcing industry niche practice area for law firms. They are experts in giving their
services, by representing corporate clients in complex global outsourcing transactions in both IT
and core business operations. She also highlight that, in the next five years, many legal
administrators will take more serious look at RM as a potential target for some level of
outsourcing (pg. 2). Pertaining to the legal records principles, law firms has to properly follow the
legal rights and record-keeping principles, to ensure that records are protected legally authentic
and re-usability in legal matter. A Law firm also is responsible in finding the best and proven track
record of a good outsourcing company. This is to protect the privacy and access of each legal
records maintained by outsource company. (After this paragraph known as “practice area”)

Practice area development is no longer new to the outsourcing trends. Since the emergence of
RM-related practice areas, it has directly resulted on corporate compliances including the
Sarbanes-Oxley act 2002, Gramm-leach-Bliley act 2002 and the implications of Zubulake (pg. 2).
Ms Nemchek informed that, some practice area have some different focuses, for instance,
Hunton & Williams, consults on all aspects of information policy, including privacy, information
security and records management. Unlike the Reed Smith’s Records Management and E-
Discovery Group they take on the electronic records management (ERM) strategies. In her
article, she predicted that by the end of the first decade (2010 and onwards), some law firms will
develop a further specialization within RM niche: providing records management compliance
services to law firms and other legal organizations. Such practice will offer Librarians/records
managers working in the firms and provide reference and research assistance in an area in which
they possess professional expertise.

In her article, at point number four is, ERM, this has been the topic on nowadays, since almost
90% new information is created and stored electronically. She also urged that law firms must
starts investing in a sophisticated records management and firms must automate their RM
operations in order to manage a wide variety of electronic records, including e-mails, and their
attachments, electronic documents, web pages, database output, digital images and recordings
and instant messaging. What I have seen in Malaysia, for a small law firm, the very least that they
implemented into their working system is just an email management. Other aspect of electronic
records management still way far from what customers’ had expected. Probably law firm, still
cannot see the benefit of being independent when they are in ERM in the future. Nemchek,
mentioned that as of today, the legal world has just reached scratched surface of ERM. I am
really looking forward to the full ERM implementation in Malaysia, is it realistic? I would say it
would be another 10 years!

Pertaining to the legal principles, data that has been saved electronically, has to be properly
stored and protected. There are so many possibilities of hacking, viruses attacked, data
redundancy, data corruption, and data decryption and much more. Therefore, law firms, has to
ensure that data stored and created according to standard and procedure, and all information for
legal use must be tested appropriately.

The last point of these critical issues is Electronic data discovery (EDD). Nemchek, mentioned
that this EDD investment would be a huge project for a small law firm. An in-house EDD would
takes law firms investment in hardware, software, space and personnel. So far no law firm
records manager has the time to manage EDD. She believed that, there is a future role of EDD
for legal records manager. It is known that, those who have the requisite IT qualifications, who
are willing to train and learn, can make good use of their extensive knowledge of hard copy and
electronic records to assist with EDD (pg. 4).

Conclusion - hidden