Law Firm Time Management: A Minute Saved is a Minute Earned

September 18, 2013

Law deadlineAs an attorney at a large law firm, you know that every minute matters. Clients are counting on you to deliver results, and your partners expect you to accomplish them in a reasonable, yet profitable, amount of time.

That being said, it is not uncommon, especially for newer associates, to have days where it is not quite clear where the time goes.

In the interest of helping you be an effective, efficient legal professional — or a driver for a lean, cost-efficient law firm —  here are a few common time-wasters and ways they can be counteracted.

Social Media: You might log on to Facebook with the intent of only looking at your sister’s pictures of her 5-year-old’s birthday party and then getting right back to that cease-and-desist letter or request for continuance, only to find that 20 minutes have gone by and you are scrolling through the newsfeed of someone you went to college with and have not spoken to in 10 years. One way to prevent yourself from falling down this rabbit hole is to try temporary Internet blocking software, like Cold Turkey or Focus Booster. Generally, these apps temporarily disable your access to a list of sites prepared by you with the theory that if you cannot access them, you will spend more time on work matters. Of course, check with your IT department before trying to install any kind of new software.

Long Ways Around: Certain traits of legal practice, like zealous advocacy and a good command of language, have been hallmarks of the profession for centuries; that does not mean there are not elements of it that cannot and should not change, however. For example, using electronic research instead of book-based research has saved countless hours for many attorneys. Other products, like Drafting Assistant – Transactional, help attorneys achieve timeliness, accuracy and thoroughness in less time than they could with manual review. Click below to register for a free webinar and see how you can make Drafting Assistant – Transactional work for you.

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Unbillables: You, of course, know that time spent on matters for which you cannot bill clients, like staff meetings, is not going to help you meet your billable hours requirement. But have you actually processed how you’re spending unbillable time? Try this – for a few days or a week, write down the amount of time you spend that you cannot bill, then add it up. This is a simple exercise that will give you a better and more realistic grasp of how you’re spending time you do not usually track.

These are three very general time-management tips, but following them has proven to be helpful for many people. Check in with this blog from time to time for more insights on the 21st-century practice of law.