Folder Templates

One way to really save time is to have all the precedents or templates for a particular type of matter in a master folder (e.g. – estate administration, advance planning documents), organized within relevant sub-folders within than master folder, ready to be copied and renamed for a particular client.  The master folder remains as a ‘template,’ available to be copied and used again for the next client.  Any changes to any of the precedents or templates for a matter can be corrected or updated once in the master template folder, and then everyone will have access to the correct documents going forward.

The master folder should have a generic name with all the info you would need to identify the matter.  In our example below, the ‘master’ folder for an estate administration  file has the name:

$Surname FirstName { } Estate 2009 0000

Note:  – the last four digits are for the file number, usually generated by a program like Quickbooks or your own bookkeeping or other file numbering system

                             –  the $ sign at the beginning of the folder template ensures that your various folder templates for various legal matters are sorted to the top of you client files, before the rest of the client files in alphabetical order by last name.

Inside the master folder are the sub-folders for relevant papers, correspondence, court documents, internal firm accounting, etc. These sub-folders are populated with relevant templates that will be used with different clients. Once a master folder for a matter is created, with all the sub-folders containing the relevant document templates, it can be used as a folder template.

How does this work?  Let’s say a new client Roberta Jones walks in the door, and you will opening file #357 for the year 2019, in the are area of estate administration.  In Windows Explorer you right-click on the folder template $Surname FirstName {} Estate 2009 0000, and then remove the $ sign, and change the file name to:

Jones Roberta { } Estate 2019 0357

This folder will then be saved in with your client files, which are sorted in alphabetical order by client last name. This assumes this is how you want to name client files – it is a useful way of doing so.

Donna Neff, a wills and estates lawyer near Ottawa, Ontario, developed this file folder template and file naming system for her paperless practice.    This is much more than a document naming system, it is a wonderful time saver and an aid to going paperless.  She has now co-authored a book on how to become paperless in one hour: Paperless in One Hour for Lawyers

Here is her example of her file folder template for estate administration matter:

Folder Template - Estate Administration (Note - NLO stands for Neff Law Office)
Folder Template – Estate Administration (Note – NLO stands for Neff Law Office)