Assessment of the management of legal records at signum advocates
Owachi Oyung Rwoth Doreen
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The study “assessment of the management of legal records” was conducted at Signum Advocates with the main purpose of identifying the loopholes and problems encountered in order to derive measures and best practice strategies to improve on the management of legal records. The study aimed to achieve specific objectives which were; (1) to identify the types of records generated at Signum Advocates; (2) to assess the management of legal records at Signum Advocates; (3) to identify the challenges encountered in managing legal records; and (4) propose strategies to improve on the management of legal records at Signum Advocates. The study embraced qualitative research paradigm with interviews, questionnaires and observation as data collection methods. A sample size of 15 respondents was used who included records staff, top management staff, lawyers (action officers), secretaries (administrators/librarian) and clients. Purposive sampling together with simple random sampling method was used to select the sample size. Literatures in diverse ranges from Ugandan context to world-wide scholarly works were reviewed in relation to the management of legal records. Text-books, conference papers, periodicals, journals and unpublished research reports were reviewed for more information. The study revealed that legal records are created and received from the various units of the Signum Advocates at all levels such as administration, marital, civil, commercial, records unit and library, among others. It also revealed that legal records are not accepted in the registry if it does not possess all the necessary details like creators name, owner name, unique identifier, original place, subject and file number to ensure the authenticity, reliability, integrity and usability of the record. The creation of legal records at Signum Advocates is carried out by means of handwriting of case scenarios. However, typing and entering of documents/ data into computer applications such as Microsoft Word, excel respectively is carried out afterwards. All parties concerned are then sent to emails with attachments, if they so wish. Instruments such as cameras, audio recorders, video recorders, markers and pens on books are used to capture ad record legal documents. The study also revealed that, legal records processing and organizing such as classification, filing, folioing, sorting, opening of files, file movement controls and transfer to registry are conducted by the records officers. The study revealed that Signum Advocates classifies its legal records using alphanumerical and subject classification system and filing is conducted by vertical and horizontal arrangements. Storage of legal records which are mainly in paper based formats is done on manila file covers and box files, plastic file covers, storage boxes, metallic shelves and cabinets, and drawers. The study also revealed that despite the presence of qualified records professionals at Signum Advocates, the situation of management of legal records is still alarming. Challenges are vast and thus hindering their professional expertise to reach its hikes. However, the study identified with itself a number of solutions and strategies to help improvement on the management of legal records at Signum Advocates such as acquisition of better equipments, provision of adequate financing and support, training of support staff in basic records management practices and establishment and implementation of records management policies and regulatory frameworks.