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Resource review: RIM from a corporate counsel's perspective.

TITLE: Corporate Counsel's Guide to Records Retention

ISBN: 0-929576-26-8

PUBLISHER: Business Laws Inc.

PUBLICATION DATE: 1986, with May 2003 supplement

LENGTH: three volumes, approx. 900 pages in 3-ring loose-leaf binders; service includes monthly newsletter

PRICE: $275; semi-annual supplements $165

SOURCE: www.businesslaws.com

Records and information management (RIM) professionals looking for new reference material on records retention for their library shelves often make the mistake of confining themselves to books and loose-leafs intended specifically for the records manager. This may be a bit shortsighted.

Lots of other groups are interested in records retention, and, as a result, there are publications available that are intended for other audiences. One such audience is corporate counsel. Their collective interest in records retention has increased considerably in the past decade, and there are now available reference works on the topic that consider it from corporate counsel's point of view. But some of these publications are useful to RIM professionals as well.

One such publication is the Corporate Counsel's Guide to Records Retention, a three-volume, loose-leaf compilation published by Business Laws Inc. It is comprised of two parts. The Corporate Counsel's Guide to Records Retention is a series of monographs on various topics. It is supplemented by the Corporate Counsel's Records Retention Report, which is comprised of newsletters on similar topics that are issued monthly and pre-punched for insertion into the set's three-ring binders. The Guide to Records Retention also contains sample policies and guidelines in the form of copies of policies from General Dynamics Corporation and two other entities. The set is updated with supplements twice a year.

The topics covered in the monographs vary from those that have general applicability to those that are narrowly targeted. Such topics as admissibility of business records in court and personnel record privacy concerns are likely to be of interest to most or all readers, while others--such as records retention requirements for cryptographic products and records retention under the Robinson-Patman Act--will interest only a few. More intermediate in scope and likely to be of interest to most large organizations are such topics as export control laws and lobbying. Overall, the collective scope of this volume is quite broad, and it is likely to be of interest to many RIM managers, particularly those at larger organizations with complex or subject specific needs.

The newsletters, each in the four- to eight-page range, are well written and informative, and users will find them to be a valuable resource if the topic is one of interest. Each one provides a background on the law or topic itself, followed by a records retention-oriented analysis. The background discussion is valuable because it provides an overview of what may well be an unfamiliar topic. (How much do you know about the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and its records retention implications?) A research section containing the text of the laws under discussion follows the monographs contained in the Guide to Records Retention. This helpful feature saves the reader from having to go through what may be considerable effort to locate the text of the laws in question. In the case of some of the more narrowly targeted monographs, interested users may find that this set provides the only records retention-oriented reference material available on the subject that can be found without doing original research.

The compilation of statutes and regulations is not exhaustive or comprehensive, however. Other compilations, such as Legal Requirements for Business Records published by Information Requirements Clearinghouse, are much more complete--and much more expensive. This research should instead be looked upon as reference material for the discussions in the monographs. Viewed this way, it will provide the user with a sound starting point for records retention decision-making, and it is very helpful indeed. Similarly, the sample policies and procedures--while not fully comprehensive and representing only one company's point of view on the matter--will nonetheless provide a sound starting point for those needing models and templates for their own policies, as well as for those wanting to know how a large organization tackles some of the issues.

This set is not a substitute for a good basic reference work on records retention, but it is a supplement to a good set of basic materials. Many areas of widespread interest to RIM managers are not represented, nor does the set deal extensively with many nuts-and-bolts issues such as retention schedule development, inventories, and similar matters, which are essential to putting into action the knowledge contained in a set of this kind.

Price may also be an issue for some potential users. At $275 plus the $165 annual cost of updates, this set is not likely to be the first purchase for a beginning records manager, nor will it be the choice for those on a tight budget. However, for those whose RIM library already includes basic material and whose records management issues and budget warrant the inclusion of more advanced and subject-specific material, this set will prove to be a valuable addition.

John Montana, JD, is a records management and legal consultant and principal of Cunningham and Montana. He may be contacted at johnmontana@qwestinternet.net.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Montana, John
Publication:Information Management Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2003
Words:851
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