File Naming Convention
In his TechnoFeature,
TechnoFeature: Where Are My Files?, Jeffrey Lisson
electronic file system should mimic the paper
>file, so no one has to learn a new
way of doing things. The
>goal is simplicity and ease of use.
So each client would
>have his or her own folder. Each
folder would have
>subfolders for discrete matters.
Each matter would have
>subfolders for the documents
involved. Sound complicated?
Anthony Cary responded:
>"I have a
nitpick about Lisson's recommendation that
>longer, more descriptive file names
be used. Longer file
>names, while easily created in
Windows compared to DOS,
>often do not display fully in
dialog boxes like "Open" (at
>least not without the computer user
widening the file
>"Name" column a lot, which has its
>particularly on small monitors).
Thus a shorter title with
>a date appended will often display
fully, whereas a longer,
>more descriptive title will not,
and will require extra
>scanning of its truncated file name
for one to know what
>the document actually is...."
Sam B. Craig wrote:
response to Anthony Cary's remarks: We use subject
>-oriented subfolders within a
client folder (e.g., "Doe
>Contract" within the "Smith" client
folder). If we just
>had a "Letters" subfolder it would
get confusing. Our old
>system worked that way, and we pay
the price each time we
>try to find something from those
files....We are using a
>document naming structure as
follows: [Date of doc][Type of
>doc][subject]. For example "05-0121
>counteroffer." This sorts documents
by date, which allows
>the file to reflect the advancement
of the case...."
While Mr. Craig did stress the
importance of being able to organize by date, the above
described file naming convention ONLY allows
organization by date. I have noticed that many legal
professionals advocate a similar naming convention,
however, our firm prefers to reserve the ability to
organize both by date as well as type of document type,
then document subject.
Windows already allows
organization by date modified, simply click on the "Date
Modified" column label in Windows Explorer. Whenever you
wish to revert back to organization by file type and
then subject, simply click on the "Name" column label.
Additionally, clicking a second time on any of the
column labels in Windows Explorer will change the file
listing from ascending to descending and visa versa. By
employing this method, users can toggle between two very
helpful file organizations without limiting themselves
to a single sorted date view.
Utilizing similar notation to
Sam's post above, I would advocate using the following
naming convention: [Type of doc][Subject][Significant
Date]. For example "LTR Smith counteroffer
Why, you might ask, did I include
the date in the file name after discussing the fact that
Windows already has a date modified field? Because date
modified is just that, the date the file was modified.
Reliance only on this date will quickly lead to
confusion. Notice I labeled the date value as
[Significant Date] above. This represents the fact that
documents have significant dates that are different from
the date modified. If you create a letter and date the
letter for the next day, Windows will date that letter
in the Date Modified column as the date that you created
the document, not the date of the letter. When trying to
find the letter later, this might cause great confusion.
By organizing using [Type of
doc][Subject][Significant Date] or even [Type of
doc][Significant Date][Subject], you can organize your
file view by date AND grouped by document type then
subject or document type then date.
The resulting file list view would
be something like this:
FAX to client 2005-01-05
FAX to co-counsel 2005-01-01
LTR to client 2005-01-01
LTR to client 2005-01-02
LTR to client 2005-01-03
MEM to firm 2005-01-01
MEM to firm 2005-01-09
After using this method for over a
year and a half, it has become evident that files are
much easier to locate using this method rather than the
limited date sorting method above.
Campbell Law Firm, L.L.C.
1902 S. Baltimore, Suite 400
Kirksville, MO 63501
PH: (660) 627-1241
Fax: (660) 627-3299
Community Manager's Notes