Last year I consulted with a law firm that prided itself on being one of
NY's oldest, and was looking to improve the situation of their offsite
records. The Records Staff had many stories to tell about the offsite
facility,as well as careful preparation when retrieving records. Yes, the
law firm's staff had full access to the entire warehouse of which this
firm was one of many clients. This alone is wrong on many counts. I
ventured to the warehouse and was mortified. The only environmental
control was the roof, which leaked. Birds, rats, insects and other vermin
wandered freely. And there's no air handling system so it's hot and humid
in the summer and freezing in the winter. The few staff who are there must
address according the outside temperature. Their job is to receive records
and occasionally pull records from boxes and send them in a taxi to the
client. They are not there to make sure clients with the self-service
agreement (like the firm I was working for) don't walk away with someone
else's records. I could have done that easily. In fact, I could have
pulled up a truck and hauled out dozens of boxes without anyone noticing.
I told the firm clearly about the environment where they were storing
their assets, as well as informed my supervisor in the consulting firm. I
feel I did my due diligence, laying out very clearly the risks involved in
using this warehouse, both damaging to the records and to their staff when
visiting the warehouse. I also advised the staff not to visit the
warehouse to retrieve/return materials. Not sure if this latter point was
When I presented my findings to the client contact, she appeared to
shocked. But not shocked enough to spend a little more money for better
storage. It's been close to a year since I presented my findings, and the
law firm still has not changed vendors or requested that their records be
transferred to their new facility, which has all the bells and whistles
needed for record storage.
To make a long story short, the records manager needs to make a case for
good storage, but can at any point be overruled by higher authority who
only views records management as a cost center.
MetLife \ Legal Affairs
27-01 Queens Plaza North
Long Island City NY 11101
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