In this day and age, emails, documents, drafts, and proposals are generally transmitted, saved, and archived in a digital format. Typically, these tasks are accomplished by way of WORD or PDF. However, there are an array of other records that also exist in other formats, such as images, pictures, cell phone screenshots, maps, sketches, snippets, and so on, which may be amassed intermittently or spontaneously.
It is important that everyone involved (be it attorneys or staff of a firm, or their clients) be able to efficiently save, transmit, and/or retrieve files in a short time. Sometimes, files need to be recalled or retrieved sooner and other times files need to be recalled or retrieved later (for one reason or another…).
When one implements a “standard naming convention”, this can be accomplished rather easily, regardless of when you are trying to retrieve it. Standard naming conventions should include pertinent information (and should be thought out in advance), such that any person could likely retrieve the document, email, or other information, say, in 20 years from now.
Pertinent information in standard naming conventions (depending on your desired filing system) might include information that includes part or all of the following: author name, case name, title of document, and/or the date the document is drafted, proposed, signed, or filed. Depending on whether you are sending an email or saving a PDF, WORD, or other document, you probably want to consider a few of the following standard naming conventions (keep in mind that you want to implement a “standardized” convention that works for your firm/own purposes, regardless of what convention you ultimately implement):
- AUTHOR NAME – TITLE OF DOCUMENT – [SENT/DATED/SIGNED] DATE
Tom – Letter to Andy Johnson – DATED 09-09-25
- INITIAL FROM – INITIAL TO – TITLE OF DOCUMENT – [SENT/DATED/SIGNED] DATE
TB – NL – Engagement Letter – DATED 09-09-25
- PLAINTIFF LAST NAME – DEFENDANT LAST NAME – TITLE OF DOCUMENT– [SENT/DATED/SIGNED/FILED] DATE
Smith – Jones – Answer to Complaint – FILED 2-14-25
- CONDENSED NAME OF CASE – TITLE OF DOCUMENT– [SENT/DATED/SIGNED] DATE
Estate of Himmler – Last Will & Testament – DATED 05-01-25
- YYYY/MO/DAY –TITLE OF DOCUMENT — CASE NAME
2025-06-17 – Settlement Conference Statement – Smith – Jones
Every style of naming convention has its own operative functions and serves its own purpose. The above examples are just those…examples.
When you decide upon your own standardized naming convention, think of what you want to do, how you want to retrieve papers or emails in the short term and, most importantly, how you want to retrieve documents or emails in the long term.
Once you come up with a standard naming convention that will allow you to do all of these, EFFECTIVELY, you have likely ascertained the naming convention that will work for you. In other words, you should be able to search your inbox, sent box, C-drive, K-drive, Q-drive, worksite/filesite, or other peripheral location, and retrieve any email or document that you want, based on standardized keyword searches that involve either the parties, authors, case name, date, subject matter or whatever other criteria you have determined to be pertinent.