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ILTA WHITE PAPER: JULY 2015 WWW.ILTANET.ORG OFFBOARDING: MANAGING THE CHALLENGE OF ATTORNEY EXITS With no slowdown in sight to the lateral movement of lawyers, especially in the U.S. market, handling client matter content when lawyers move out of a firm — "offboarding" — will continue to be a regular occurrence. The manner in which it is handled is critical to corporate governance. It is also important to recognize that issues around offboarding (and onboarding) go hand-in-hand with IT infrastructure, in particular your document management system (DMS), email, matter management and data storage. SIGNING OUT While the technical elements of offboarding can be automated, the human element remains key to the process. Thus, a typical offboarding request for file transfers necessitates the checks and balances scrutiny of a risk partner or general counsel (GC) to ensure the firm is meeting its ethical obligation. From the minute a firm learns of an impending departure, it is imperative to follow a delineated procedure for proper risk management. Firms should have a monitoring process in place to protect firm matters from being exported en masse by the departing attorney without being properly vetted. The temptation to "just take" files and the simplicity with which some systems enable this must be tempered by recognition of ethical requirements. This usually falls under the purview of the IT department with coordination and oversight from the GC. Before any document transfer process can begin, the departing attorney must seek documented client approval. The firm should have a policy that provides clear guidance to all parties involved, including attorneys, administrative teams (such as IT and records) and clients. THE TRANSFER CHALLENGE While it might be straightforward for the departing attorney to ask for relevant data to be transferred, achieving this goal can be complicated. Systems and procedures at the current firm can make locating and exporting data a challenge. The processes law firms have for managing documents can vary dramatically, from a fully digitized enterprise-level DMS with integrated email filing and tools for matter export to a firm using mostly paper files while storing some documents in basic file-shares and email only within desktop email clients. Once a transfer has been approved, it is typically IT that identifies, collects and exports the relevant data. In some firms, the final transfer is managed via whichever team maintains overall responsibility for risk, as they can provide a central collection point for both physical and electronic data. This can include a variety of information from a firm's DMS along with data residing elsewhere. Usually relevant documentation and communication are stored in email folders within Outlook. Typically the attorney takes an entire mailbox export during a move, provided in .PST format. However, if the firm is concerned about other client information stored in that mailbox, it might not allow an entire export. If the firm has a robust DMS and the lawyers properly file all matter- related email into the appropriate folder within it, this is not an issue. However, based on the latest industry surveys, it is safe to say a fair number of 46 Remember that your bad offboarding practices can become an ILTA peer's onboarding nightmare.

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