Most law firms are careful to retain documents as long as legally required. But their document retention policy may overlook the possibility that documents stored years ago could have used technology that may no longer be accessible.
If they can’t produce a copy of a will that was originally stored 50 years ago, for example, they could be in violation of regulations.
Rules governing retention of legal documents differ depending on the type of document and the jurisdiction. But, generally the rules require retention of documents ranging from 20 years (such as unemployment claims) to 100 years (such as wills) to indefinitely (such as termination of parental rights). Depending on how long ago a document was stored, it may be on 5.25-inch floppy disks, 3.5-inch floppy disks, optical drives, CD ROMs, hard disk drives, CDs, DVDs, thumb drives or solid-state disk drives.