File Management and Diary Systems Learning Module

Introduction and objectives

If you put in place a file management system that is appropriate for your firm’s particular needs, you will increase both the effectiveness and profitability of your practice. There are several other important reasons for having robust file management procedures, sound policies for documentation, and an effective diary system, such as to:
  • help you to provide competent and efficient legal service at a fair cost; and
  • protect you against allegations of negligence or complaints to the Law Society by assisting you to meet regulatory and legislative requirements, such as preserving confidentiality, tracking limitation periods, remitting taxes, and avoiding conflicts.
It is important to review the file management systems you put in place periodically to ensure that they are both functioning properly and are responsive to changes in your practice.  Among other things, you should periodically take steps to ensure that your file management systems are:
  • appropriately documented in a procedural manual;
  • followed in practice by the members of your firm, including administrative staff;
  • continue to be appropriate for your practice; and
  • reviewed and audited to ensure that they continue to suit your needs and that computer software and hardware are being maintained and are up to date.
In short, ensure that all your staff members know where your procedural manual is located, that they understand the file management process outlined in the manual, and that they follow it.
For the purposes of this module, as the context requires, “file” includes: a paper file and/or computer file/folder, as well as the concept of a file as the matter for which the lawyer is engaged (e.g., “I am working on the Smith file”). For clarity, we have broken this module into sections, but it is important to think of the discussion that follows as elements of an integrated whole, rather than isolated systems.
This module was updated in January 2018. As you read through this module, if you find any information that is unclear, inaccurate or outdated, please advise the Law Society.
Appendix B: Opening and Maintaining Client Files (Law Society of B.C.)
Legal Ethics in a Digital World, CBA Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee


The information contained in these modules, including references to websites, appendices or links, has been prepared to assist readers as they develop or refresh their skills in the various areas of law covered by the modules. Given the changing nature of the law, readers should exercise their own skill and professional judgment when using the content. Always refer to the most current statutes, regulations, and practice directions, as well as the most recent case law and any other appropriate sources. These materials do not provide legal advice and should not be relied on in any way.
  1. Quality of Service

  2. Technology

  3. Technology (continued)

  4. Ethics and Security

  5. File Management

  6. File Management (continued)

  7. File Management (continued)

  8. File Management (continued)

  9. Document Management

  10. Time Management

  11. Time Management (continued)

  12. Diary Systems

  13. Diary Systems (continued)

  14. Diary Systems (continued)

  15. End of Lesson