POST #3, APRIL 16, 2016–HOW WE KEEP ORGANIZED
This is the weekend and I am promising myself that, for the rest of the year, I am not going to do any work on weekends, unless I have to. It is just a good way to make certain that your attorney is stress-free!
One thing I am going to do this weekend, which will take about an hour or less this afternoon, is set up the office for the next quarter (i.e., until June 30). Here’s what I mean:
Because I don’t have the ability to do six things at one time, I find that I have to keep myself super organized, especially since my able secretary, Rosalie, is independently-contracted to me, and only works part-time. So, I make a master list of things to do for each quarter, something my father and I started from the day we first practiced together.
First, we go through every active file in our filing cabinet. I still do things the old-fashioned way and have paper copies of everything in a paper file that I have: if it needs to be organized further (the file) for trial or deposition or hearing, I’ll do that at the time. With each and every file, we will list the major items that have to be done within that file for the ensuing 3 months and set up a master list of things to do each quarter, and check them off as we do them. Each file is also color coded with 4 different colored labels so that, in each week of the quarter, we can go through the different colored files (blue labels one week, green the next, and so on), to ascertain whether there are other things not on the master list that have come up that we need to do, in addition to the day-to-day things that obviously crop up. As new files are opened, they are added to the master list.
We also update what we call our statute of limitations list each quarter. As we go through each file quarterly, we list deadline dates for filing lawsuits, appeals, motions, etc. These lists, obviously, have to be met 100% of the time, without error. We check off each deadline made and the action taken, e.g. “Joe Jones, file suit by statute of limitations date on 5/1/16, suit filed 4/15/16.”
There are four (4) different statute of limitations lists that we have. The first is a general list, for all our files. Lists 2 and 3 are for (a) our cases, civil and criminal, that we have in Federal Court, and (b) our cases that we have before the new Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Court. The reason for the special lists here is that each of these Court’s, unlike most of our state courts, set specific deadlines via rule, statute, and order….woe be to the attorney who fails to meet these deadlines, and you want to be particularly on top of things in those cases.
Finally, we have a special statute of limitations “list” for all our state criminal cases. While not technically a statute of limitations list, we have developed, in the course of our practice, standard things that we do in each of our criminal cases. We list whether these things have been done or not in these cases, whether we were retained (our client pays us) or appointed (the government pays us). Most importantly, we also list whether our client is out on bond, or whether the client is in jail, and if the client is in jail, the list reminds us to go see him or her, because the jail is just across the street from our office.
I do these tasks on paper, rather than on the computer, for which you may be wondering “Why?” Well, it’s just my memnonic, my way of remembering the things to do. If this information were committed to my hard drive, I would probably never look at it. It’s the same as when I was broadcasting a lot of Division I football and basketball: while other play-by-play people were computerizing their spotting charts (the lists of players, stats, and interesting factoids), I was–and still do–hand-write these, because I feel I can more easily commit these to memory if I write it on paper, like in the 16th Century!
I am not wanting a pat on the back from any of you reading this, but I did want to share with you that we do take what we do seriously, and try to stay on top of things all the time, but, of course, we’re imperfect.