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Master Checklists

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A good checklist can really ramp up your productivity and reduce oversights. Evernote makes creating checklistsevernote logo quick and easy. Even better, this article from Attorney at Work explains how you can easily create a notebook for “Master Checklists” to help you zip right through routine tasks such as opening a new client file or drafting a motion. You can even link your notes to your checklist for an even bigger productivity boost!

Voluntary Good Practices Guidance to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

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The ABA Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession has worked with other entities to develop voluntary good practices guidance for lawyers to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The Task Force has concerns about how mandatory gatekeeper provisions might affect confidential attorney-client relationships and other issues. Below are two publications from the ABA Task Force.

Take a Break

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Did you know...?
• Employers in the United States are not obligated to offer any paid vacation
• Vacation is mandated by law in many other parts of the world
• Poll: Only 57% of U.S. workers use up all of the vacation days they're entitled to
Credit: CNN Online.

Study after study shows the mental and physical health benefits of taking time off. It seems like common sense to me: if you’re tired and stressed, you’re more likely to make mistakes. On the one hand, a vacation is a chance to recharge your batteries and come back relaxed and with a fresh perspective on your job. On the other hand, you could come back to chaos: piles of unanswered emails and phone messages; crises un-handled, and even clients lost.

If you’re a sole practitioner, the idea of taking any time off probably frightens you. Here’s the perspective of one solo who learned that you can take vacation time, including tips on what you should do before you go. However, the author writes about the help his staff provides. What if you’re it – the only person in the office? Can you do it? Should you do it? Yes and yes. The secret is not only planning, it’s learning to let go and recognizing that you can’t control everything. You can manage it as professionally as possible, but eventually, you’re going to conk out. Working at the Bar, you notice the stories of lawyers passing away suddenly. You know the lawyers who suffered serious health set-backs. Life has a way of teaching us that we aren’t in control. Figuring out a way to take vacations helps us also figure out how to manage our practices better; plus, we learn something about planning for the future and when we're no longer around.

It’s a cliché, but on your deathbed, are you going to think that you should have worked more?

Business Card Strategies

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Let me make this perfectly clear: your business card says a lot about you. When I open the desk drawer with my Rolodex and piles of rubber-banded cards, it's like pulling open a drawer of memories. (It also reminds me that I need to scan them with my Fujitsu ScanSnap and save them with CardMinder.)

In some cultures, it is considered correct business politesse to hold the card presented to you with both hands, observe it, and comment, before putting it carefully in your wallet.

I have my own rules for business cards, to wit:
• Make sure someone can read your card easily without glasses or a magnifying glass (the “over age 40” rule).
• If you use your domain name in your email address, make sure you also have a web page with that domain name.
• Send two business cards to each client at the close of your case and ask them to refer you business.
• Whenever you give your card, give three (one for that person and two for friends).
• Use both sides of the card – include your practice areas on one side, a map to your office, or a piece of advice.
• Make it unique and easy to spot.

Making your card unique and easy to spot is tricky in the rather conservative field of lawyering. You want the impression you make to be favorable, so keep that in mind before you get too wild and crazy. And if inexpensive business cards are what you seek, the Internet is a good place to go. Try Vistaprint, but don't forget to give your local supplier a chance to compete.

Time Management

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Do you jump from one task to the next without ever finishing? You may want to try the Pomodoro Technique of getting work done. To begin, you'll need a kitchen timer, a list of tasks and a pencil. Choose a task to be accomplished and set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer). Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your task list. Take a five minute break and begin a new task with the timer running. Every 4 "Pomodoros" take a longer break (15-20 minutes). The technique was created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. Cirillo originally used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian), hence the name. To download the free book and forms, visit the Pomodoro Technique website.