By Dennis Hung • July 20, 2018•Law School
When people look at your desk, what do they think? Do they see something organized, or do they see a mess that has to be excused for? You know the drill: they might say something along the lines of, “Well that's an accountant's desk”, or “that's just a teacher's desk”, or something to the effect of, “ don't fret, that's just a lawyer’s mess.” well, if you are a lawyer, hopefully you will realize that there is no such thing as organized chaos. In order to keep your office functioning in a strong manner, there must be a solid organization cycle in place. In most offices this is the key to being successful; however in a law office it is mandatory for operating in an efficient, ethical and productive manner. Of course, being aware of the problem and solving a problem or two separate things. The first thing to understand is that organization is key. You must start my clearing out the old, unusable system before you put a new one into place.
The first step to revitalizing your office is four-fold: you must de-clutter, purge, organize and create a more efficient filing system. Of course, the first step is to declutter. This is where you get rid of unnecessary things. You will want to work one section at a time and the office. This way you avoid getting overwhelmed. This will also help you avoid doing a duplicate work, simply because with an organized system you will recall much easier what has been accomplished and what has not been accomplished.
After decluttering, your next step would be to purge. In this step, you want to get rid of files that are not considered “open and active.” you also need to decide immediately whether you should keep an item, save that item or immediately destroy it. Of course, it can be difficult to determine when an item should be purged, so ask a more experienced legal professional for some guidelines on this. Although this will take some self-discipline on your part it is definitely worth it.
Organization is what you do next. In this step, you want to educate all of your employees on standard operating procedures. Everyone should have a set of instruction for a number of important steps. They should be tailored to your specific law operation and your type of law and here is a sampling of some of the task you could plan for:
- New client operations
- Obtaining new office supplies
- Policies regarding old client files
- Accepting payments
- Scheduling new client meetings
- Managing appointments for any existing client
- Preparing logs for trial
- Filing on a daily basis
Developing some sort of filing system is another step that is crucial for your law firm. You need to develop a system that will apply to every file. That way, your legal team will not come off as a bureaucracy. Instead, they will come off as an organized operation. One great way to do this with your files would be through color-coding in order to distinguish which while belongs to which case, what type of file it is, and so forth. Finally, you will also need a security plan so that confidentiality is continually honored and your legal firm. This would include a locked filing cabinets, passwords for computers and a security system on all computers to prevent hacking.
Finally, make technology your friend!
You need to revise a good medium for sharing and storing documents online. This used to be done with Docstoc, however has now been shut down completely for almost 3 years. This is why a good Docstoc alternative is in order. Do your due diligence on this, but one alternative would be eFileCabinet. In many ways this document storage medium is better simply because it has compliance with the standards of regulatory bodies like HIPAA or FINRA. This medium also offers robust document security and increase the ability to create workflows, mobile-friendly attributes, and integration with other software such as QuickBooks.
Of course, even if you don't like eFileCabinet there are plenty of other alternatives. It is up to you to fully study which program will be the most effective for helping your law firm become the well-oiled machine it is supposed to be.