Personal Injury Lawyer
Lawyers genuinely care about those they serve and are often stressed and overwhelmed because they want to do everything possible to help their clients. Clients are often unaware of circumstances which cause problems in the law office work environment. The following several situations can create stressful events for lawyers and clients alike.
Issue #1: Taking on too Much
Lawyers want to help and it’s too easy to say “yes” to clients as they tell themselves that it is no problem to put in a few extra hours on top of the extra they are already working. This is typically when time management troubles begin. Human beings are not built like machines and at some point, adrenaline can drop and the body and brain are unable to keep up. The return on the time invested then diminishes with each minute a lawyer takes on more than they can handle. It is not healthy and productive for the lawyer or for the client. Saying “no” to a client doesn’t mean for an eternity. It simply means a lawyer may not be able to take on a new client for several weeks or may mean delegating the task to another associate. Prioritizing and communicating with clients and co-workers and associates are key to a lawyer’s ability to manage their workload.
Issue #2: Allowing Constant Interruptions
It is crucial in an attorney’s workday to block or set aside one or two hours daily of uninterrupted work time that is scheduled, written in the calendar, and known to the office staff. This uninterrupted work time also includes all phone calls and walk by knocks on the office door. Standing firm on this rule and having healthy boundaries with the work schedule allows lawyers time to think through strategic timing and planning of client’s projects which, in turn, provides the client with the best product.
To counter your no-interruption period, lawyers will also want to make sure schedules do not include back-to-back activity each day. Leaving wiggle room allows a lawyer to respond to the unexpected outside of no-interruption hours. Clients need to know that lawyers are often under several time constraints. There are times that lawyers cannot take a call or an appointment. It is, more likely than not, that most lawyers or their staff will get back to you just as soon as they can.
Issue #3: Estimating and Capturing Time Inaccurately
Before deciding how much time a project will require, it is crucial to look at every aspect of your schedule and workload and then analyze how much time similar projects have taken. Being realistic is invaluable.
While we all can be eager to present the best value or impress clients or other lawyers in the firm, it is not impressive to submit work later than promised because you overextended yourself or estimated the cost of the work incorrectly. It can be far more expensive to write off time. FGor example, when a lawyer, who charges $250 an hour, decides not to charge for even one hour a week, the loss is $12,000 a year. By capturing that hour, there is a gain of $12,000.
Issue #4: Procrastinating
Optimizing time begins by not putting off work. If you find yourself procrastinating, think deeply about why. There’s a reason behind it and it’s often:
- Not knowing what to do next. If that’s your situation, turn to colleagues or do some research – take even a small step to propel yourself forward.
- Not liking the client. Don’t be the client who is difficult to work with or doesn’t pay. This does not serve anyone. What it does is lend itself to more thorough vetting of clients or more selectivity about who is represented.
Issue #5: Doing Everything Yourself
Delegate when you have the opportunity. Many lawyers — especially new partners or associates — are unwilling to delegate or don’t delegate well because of billable hour requirements. Spend time on the core legal work and delegate the rest to staff who have the skill sets to do the work well. Be conscious of not abandoning them in the project and be sure to oversee work without micromanaging.
Issue #6: Being a Perfectionist
Not everything requires 100% of your attention. Learn what needs to be perfect and what doesn’t. Evaluate and prioritize the “to do” list. A brief for a corporate client, for instance, will require 100% of your effort. A simple court order, however, may not require you to tweak the language to perfection and can be delegated to paralegal staff with lawyer review.
Issue #7: Dismissing Technology
Time well-invested in taking advantage of technology always has a huge return. Use the newer technology resources to your advantage and do not dismiss them. It increases productivity in the law firm. Technology used wisely can free up hours needed to be more successful personally, professionally and financially.