Twelve-step strategy to meet a deadline
Deadlines. They come. They go. Another one comes. They are ever present in the legal work place. How can you keep these deadlines from doing you in? Here’s a twelve-step strategy to meet a deadline – early and without stress!
ONE Know when the deadline is.
TWO Know what you need to do to meet the deadline. Make sure you don’t forget any big parts of what needs to be done.
THREE Determine how long it will take to complete the task or project. You may count up the hours, the work days, the weeks – count it however you like – but estimate your time to completion. For example, you may estimate a legal discovery project will take ten hours.
FOUR Add some extra time in case you run into a problem, something unexpected comes up, or you find extra work. This gives you some leeway if things don’t go exactly as planned. For example, you may want to add an hour or two to a ten hour discovery project.
FIVE Divide the project into manageable chunks. Some people like to divide a big project into four sections. Bigger projects may have eight or ten separate parts. For a ten hour project with two hours of leeway, you could divide it into four parts. This would give you four parts to work on.
SIX Set your own personal deadline at least a week before the actual deadline. Again, this gives you some flexibility in case things don’t go as planned.
SEVEN Count the time (use the same increments you used to count before – hours, days, weeks – and determine how long you have. For example, you may have four weeks to complete your project.
EIGHT Segment your work as you divide the total project time (twelve hours) by the number of segments (four) which gives you three hours of work in each segment.
NINE Calendar your time. Schedule time on your calendar to complete each part of the job. You now have an appointment with yourself to complete the work project. Do this until the time to complete the project is all calendared.
Note, some people like to “front load” the work and do more work early, and less near the deadline. What you don’t want to do is “back load” the work and do more work right before the deadline.
TEN Keep your appointments with yourself and get the work done.
ELEVEN Exceed expectations by turning your project in a week early!
TWELVE Give yourself a big pat on the back for planning ahead to meet your deadline!
Now that you’ve done it once – start over and do it all again with the next deadline.
Ten Ways to successfully work with others – even an attorney!
When you work in a law office you work with all sorts of people – legal assistants, paralegal, attorneys, office managers, as well as clients and public who come in to the office. Here are a few pointers to help those interactions go smoothly.
- Smile! When you smile it is contagious and others want to smile back. Start a chain of happiness in the workplace simply by smiling at those you see.
- Ask people how they are doing. A simple “How’s your day?” or “How was your weekend?” will do. This lets people know you care.
- Follow the ten foot rule. If you are within ten feet of anyone smile and say hello. People like to be acknowledged. Remember, the client isn’t your only client. You are there to greet your coworkers, attorneys, office managers, secretaries and anyone else who works there, walks in the door, or takes a wrong turn into your ten foot radius.
- Be easy to get along with. When things don’t go as planned – and this can happen a lot, then just roll with change, be adaptable, agree to do something on short notice and save someone’s day! As you do so, you’ll earn a great reputation.
- Be a problem solver. When thecopier breaks down the day before a big trial from overuse, dive in to try to fix it. If you can’t figure out how to fix it, then find someone who can. Of course, you need to follow office protocol before hiring an outside vendor, but make it easy for the boss to say, yes – call now!
- Communicate. Let others know what you are working on, what deadlines you need to meet, what help you need, or what expertise you bring to the legal team. Talk to the people you work with so they aren’t surprised when the angry client who just hung up the phone with you dials the next person in the office.
- Don’t escalate. If someone else in the office is agitated, excited, volatile, loud, aggressive, becomes angry or in any way lashes out at you don’t escalate the situation by lashing back. Stay calm. Take a deep breath. If you need to, excuse yourself until the “emotional storm” blows over.
- Talk about the tough issues. If an issue comes up with a coworker, attorney, or someone else in the office be sure to go talk to them. The tough issues should be addressed face to face, in private, and in a respectful way. Tell the other person how you are filling. Ask the other person what they think. Look for mutually acceptable ways to resolve things so that you can work well together in the future. When things are once again calm, go talk to the person (see tip eight below). If you are not comfortable with that, report the incident to your office manager, supervisor, etc. Such behavior is not acceptable professional behavior and it should be dealt with under organizational policies.
- Don’t gossip. Don’t talk about people behind their backs, gossip about others in the office or clients and their business. If you have an issue, keep your mouth shut before and after following tip eight and talk about the tough issues.
- Be a team player. You are all on the same team at work. If someone needs help – dive in and help. They’ll reciprocate! It improves the atmosphere at work.
And now you ask, how do I work with an attorney? Remember, attorneys are people too! Apply these ten pointers to the attorneys you work with (and everyone else) and you’ll be the one everyone wants to work with.
Tips for Using a Paralegal in your Office
You’re a busy attorney working away – a mile a minute, one step ahead of your clients. You’ve heard about paralegals and that they can help in your office, but you don’t really have time to figure out what to have them do. We can help with that. Here are a few tips on how to use a paralegal in your office.
- Let the paralegal organize your office, your files, your work flow, your cases, and if you still have paperwork – your papers. Whether your files are on your computer or in the cloud with document management system, let a paralegal get things in order.
- A paralegal can monitor and remind you of court deadlines, client timeframes, and coordinate your calendar so you don’t miss a meeting (or a hearing) again.
- A paralegal can meet with clients, conduct initial client interviews, and keep the client informed of how the case is doing. Watch your customer satisfaction ratings go through the roof as client communication improves.
- Use a paralegal to investigate facts, do the footwork to gather information, track down needed evidence, and then organize and keep track of all the information. Just think what a paralegal can accomplish while you spend the day in court.
- A paralegal can do research and writingto prepare interoffice research memos, drafts of court memos and documents, look for language to add to contracts, and draft letters. Let a paralegal help with your document load and office production will improve.
- A paralegal can improve processesby creating forms, documents, and templates, so that your entire work flow is more productive.
Next time you have a bit of overflow work, bring in a paralegal to help – you’ll be amazed at what gets done. As some law office managers say, “We only started turning a profit when we hired a paralegal or two so the attorney could take on more work.”
Improve Your Community
The holidays are a good time to think of volunteer work and service. There are many good ways you can do this. Look for needs in the workplace, projects your local paralegal organization is working on, or see what local non-profit organizations need. You may want to join a food or coat drive that is already organized in your community or you may want to organize your own. Whatever you do – do something to make your local community better.
Here are a few questions to get you thinking:
- Does a local food bank need donations?
- What do local schools need – books? Coats and boots? Hats and mittens?
- Does your law firm or the local Bar association have a community service project?
- Could you make a monetary donation in lieu of gifts?
- How could you use your legal or paralegal skills to make the community better?
The best way to volunteer is the way that works for you.
Professional Clothing Drive
Our paralegal student organization is hosting a clothing exchange and professional clothing closet on January 19, 2018 where students can come to find professional clothing to wear as they prepare to enter the professional workplace. Several student groups have expressed an interest in attending the closet. The professional clothing could include any of the following items:
Shirts, ties, nice slacks, suits, nice shoes, professional coats and scarves, gloves
Blouses, nice slacks, professional skirts, suits, nice shoes, professional coats and scarves, gloves, and professional accessories
Donations can be made at the following locations
ISU Building 48
ISU Paralegal Department
Bannock 6th District Court
624 East Center
Annual Idaho State Bar Roadshow and Resolution Meeting
Juniper Hills Country Club – Pocatello, ID
Thank you in advance for your donations!
Happy Holidays to each of you who enjoy our monthly blog posts!