Much of an attorney’s success is attributable to his or her office’s productivity and efficiency. It often boils down to how well paralegals and other office staff are able to organize the basic processes and functions that take place every day. Here are some top paralegal organization tips to help you get the edge over your workdays and your cases.
1. Empty Desk Theory
If you search the internet long enough, you’ll find all sorts of conflicting advice about messy or cluttered work spaces. You will read articles claiming that because Einstein’s desk was messy, smart people must have messy desks. You’ll read that scientific research shows a messy or cluttered desk is a mark of genius or ingenuity. But when it comes to running an efficient and productive law firm, messy and cluttered workspaces can lead to malpractice and huge errors for the firm.
Efficient and effective paralegals have learned that it’s much wiser to pull out the file you are working on, complete the task at hand, then put it back in its place. If you get mail, process it correctly, then put things away.
Some large companies have even used policies to dictate that employees should leave their desks clear at the end of the day in order to reduce cyber threats, security risks, and other problems. In our modern high-tech world, it only makes sense that you would not want to leave protected health information (PHI) and other secure client information strewn about a desk for months on end.
One of the oldest yet most effective organization tricks for office staff to use is the inbox/outbox approach. Have a box or tray for incoming assignments and items to process. Have a separate place where you can leave items for others to retrieve them. This will reduce those countless minutes spent handing items back and forth or misplacing assignments.
3. Multiple Attorneys
If you support multiple attorneys in your office, give each one a separate in/out tray or file. This way, you can prioritize your work flow and keep track if you are not keeping up with one or more assignments. It’s also a great way for the attorneys to visually recognize when one member may be requiring more assistance in a given time. If one inbox keeps piling up, it may be time to reassess workflows.
4. The Big Trash Can
Having a large trash can will help to ensure trash is not building up on your desk or on file cabinets in your workspace. Assuming your firm utilizes a shredding company, make sure to have a separate trash dispenser for trash and confidential paperwork.
5. Deal Now or Deal Later
Why do today what you can just as easily put off until tomorrow? Right? Actually no. As a paralegal, you are always under pressure to meet strict deadlines and statutes of limitations. Draconian penalties befall attorneys and firms that miss those deadlines. The best way to create a more efficient workflow is to do the simple tasks as they come up.
For instance, you may write and copy 25 monthly diary letters to clients in a day. While it certainly takes an extra 5-10 minutes to file each copy in client files, it is better to do this now than to put it off until tomorrow. Tomorrow will bring 25 more letters, and a host of other tasks, and soon your filing will be uncontrollable. You either deal with it now or you deal with it twice as much later.
Get Help From An Experienced Litigation Services Team
We hope these paralegal organization tips are helpful. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed with your workload or are taking on a major case, a litigation support team can be of great assistance. For all your deposition and litigation support needs, count on A. William Roberts, Jr. & Associates (AWR).
From court reporting and video to eDiscovery, document services, trial presentations and more, we do it all. With years of experience helping firms just like yours, AWR is here to firms tackle the challenges of everyday law practice.
Schedule services today, 24/7, worldwide.