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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Tis the Season...

The season, that is, for your author to find herself so immersed in holiday goings-on that she barely has time to pen a blog entry or two. But while my extra-curricular self is basking in the busy and joyous holiday season, my office self has time-travelled to the New Year. I'm making all sorts of resolutions for 2010 as we speak. While I'm sure to add more, I have compiled a short list of projects I am going to begin when I get back from the holidays. Because I don't have several years of experience or an attorney with several years of experience using an assistant, please feel free to leave your own suggestions. I might just add them to my list to help our office become as productive and efficient as possible.

1) Monthly status letters. I've always wanted to do this, but I have gotten so bogged down in my many other duties that it has been pushed to the side for far too long. I'm not saying we don't keep in touch with our clients. We definitely do. I already send letters for every step of a case. But it is my goal to start sending letters even between steps, just to let the clients know we have not forgotten about them during a period of waiting in the case. I intend to give clients a rundown of their case over the entire previous 30 days as well as a heads up on what is to come. Again, while our office already keeps in touch with most of our clients on a week to week basis, I believe the monthly letters will provide a big picture view which will help explain how much progress has been made or perhaps why little to no progress has been made in certain situations.

2) Working 30 days out. I got this idea from Linda Whipple, who was quoted by Mr. Mongue at The Empowered Paralegal in his entry entitled "Combating the 'Hire an Out-of-work Lawyer as a Paralegal' Trend", as follows:

"I also work 30 days out from a deadline – got a pre-trial conference coming up? I’ve already set up the attorneys’ meeting, exhibit exchange (meaning I have my exhibits already prepared and ready for trial), and provided a draft of a pre-trial statement to my boss – this is a signal to Bob that we are now moving from 'pre-trial' mode to 'trial' mode."

While the Boss and I have a pretty smooth work flow, we have not yet reached a pace of 30 days out on anything. Sure, I look thirty days ahead just to see what is coming up, but preparing him for trial a month ahead of time? I had never even considered it until I read Ms. Whipple's comment. Granted, every practice is different, and with only two people in our office and my job duties including everything from taking out the trash to emergency case research, it might be nearly impossible to create trial notebooks and summarize depositions without another set of hands. Still, I would like to come as close to meeting that mark as is humanly possible. There is always room for improvement.

3) Paper - less. Yes, I know I had the audacity to denounce paperless offices once on this blog, and I still don't believe going completely paperless is time-feasible or within our means right now. However, since I have actually begun to think about it, and since we are running out of filing space here at the office, I am starting to see the benefits of using less paper. So, I'm going to focus on saving our electronic notifications to file rather than printing and filing them. I'm going to email clients when feasible and appropriate. I'll even try saving online research materials to file rather than printing them out. While we cannot go completely paperless, I believe being paper-less will have its benefits.

4) Curtains or shades for the front windows. What does this have to do with office administration? you might be wondering. Oh, dear reader, everything. On sunny winter days, I sit in a pool of sunshine. Beautiful though it may be, it is hotter than hot. Our big shop-style windows bleed heat into the office during the winter because the sun is angled at us from the south. This keeps our heating bills low, but it also keeps me in a constant state of persperation. I keep telling myself we need curtains or shades (something 50-60's style, to make us look classic), but I never remember long enough to do anything about it. So, starting in 2010, we will have shades.

There you have it. My super short list of resolutions for the new year. The Boss doesn't know about these yet, but I believe when I bring them up, hopefully this week, he'll be on board. In the mean time, I still have a few weeks before the New Year. If you have any tips or suggestions you believe could help a small law office (or me), please don't hesitate to leave your comments here.

1 comment:

  1. To help with your resolution to send monthly status letters, I suggest that you make an "appointment" on your calendar once a month to do just this project. By making it an appointment, you have already carved out the time from your work schedule so there is no excuse that "I just did not have the time." When you are done with the letters from one month, immediately set your appointment for the next month. When I worked in a small law office I set monthly statuts meetings with the attorneys and we reviewed every file at that time. It became routine after awhile.

    Good luck!

    Jen Guppy
    Senior Paralegal
    RLI Insurance Company