Discovery is the process of exchanging information that is relevant to a legal dispute. Discovery is everywhere: litigation, arbitration, mediation, and even in a spat with a partner. The kinds of records you keep could be the difference between a win or a loss.

Attorneys are lost without a complete file. We are unable to assess risks, properly advise clients, and develop strategies. Furthermore, attorneys become expensive when your file isn’t in order. Tracking down records, reviewing duplicates, and sorting through voluminous files is time intensive.

The process of creating a complete file begins with your documentation policy. There are a bunch of technologically advanced methods for managing your construction documents. If you want high-tech construction document management software, you can go to AccuBuild, Capterra, or My Construction Documents. If you’re litigation-heavy and constantly concerned about ending up in high-stakes lawsuits, you can turn to Clearwell or CaseCentral.

But what about the little guy? These tips are for you.

5 Simple Things You Should Document

  1. Document your agreement. Get a written contract and document any and all change orders.
  2. Document and save your conversations. You aren’t being crafty by confirming your conversation in an email—you’re being smart.
  3. Keep job records. Every contractor should find a notebook or a time sheet template online, and track all labor. Also, keep a daily notebook of what happened on the job.
  4. Keep receipts, invoices, and lading records. Sort them by the contract or change order that they coincide with.
  5. Keep copies of insurance, bonds, and taxes on hand. Lawyers like to see insurance policies, guaranty contacts, and bonds right off the bat.

5 Simple Ways to Maintain Your Documents

  1. Create individual project files. Within that folder, use subfolders to manage different types of documents.
  2. Scan all records. Contractors should consider keeping an entirely electronic file. Scan it in each time you receive something new and keep it in your folders. 3. Maintain an electronic file. This goes along with the above. Request electronic copies of documents from your customers and other parties. This ensures that you have the original, untampered files.
  3. Document what you do. Keep a record of what you do on a project and what you do with documents. Consider using a software program like BaseCampHQ or Google Sites.
  4. Create a policy and communicate it. Call a meeting, establish a procedure, and enforce it.