One of the lessons that I personally have taken from my observation of the Arthur Andersen/Enron debacle is that it is best to shred early and often. In other words, while I am not under criminal indictment, nor do I expect that I or any of my clients will be, I am reviewing old files and shredding everything I don't need on a regular basis.
After talking to my own accountant and ethics counsel, the category of "what I don't need" turns out to be quite large. So large, in fact, that I have begun oiling the machine daily as a part of its required maintenance for the amount of shredding I'm doing. (And feeling charmingly domestic as I do so. Doesn't every Betty Crocker Scholar oil her heavy-duty cross-cut shredder daily?) After reading about the technology which can be used to reconstruct even cross-cut shreddings, though, I'm developing a hankering for a disintegrator. I suppose if I wanted to be reeeeaaaaaally New Age I could consider this financial cleansing.
Some stuff, however, turns out to be too dumb to shred.
Case in point? My Y2K Readiness Disclosure research and testing documentation file. Recall that a federal statute, about which little now is heard, mandated this disclosure. I'd have to crank up the Wayback Machine to find the disclosure statement I so dutifully posted on my former website as a sole practitioner. I think it's safe to consign my test data to the recycle bin, not the shredder.