Increase Productivity as a Solo Attorney

There are plenty of great things about being a solo attorney, including setting your own hours, your own dress code (Captain America t-shirt and jeans), and going with your gut and calling the shots.

At the same time, the life of solo attorney brings additional responsibilities–from answering the phone to marketing your solo firm–which can destroy your productivity.

Come to grips with your daily routine and plan accordingly to increase your productivity.

Get smart with your calendar

If you like to ease your way into your day, then do not schedule client meetings at 8 or 9am. When you run your own firm, you have that authority. Whenever I stray from my internal scheduling rules, it inevitably throws off the rest of my day, which has a domino effect for the week.

It’s easy to say yes when someone asks, but remember that you prefer to do ___ during the hours of ____ and _____ for a reason. Obviously you will need to make the occasional exception, but try scheduling around what works for you for a few weeks and watch how your productivity soars.

Tackle big tasks with big blocks of time and solitude

I never thought I’d say this, but working after 8pm is a great time for me to work on big projects. For example, researching and drafting complaints. I generally know it takes a couple hours to research everything and throw together a rough draft. When I can sit down and tackle a big task like this in one sitting, it has an exponentially positive effect on my productivity.

During the middle of the day, the phone is ringing, opposing counsel is sending e-mails, and there are the always-important networking meetings. In other words, trying to cram a project that needs a lot of time into a 30-minute window is a bad idea.

Think about it, how many times have you tried to use 30-minutes to either complete or get started on something that you know needs a couple hours of your time? Most of the time, I stop working after five minutes because I like my efforts are pointless.

Use those small blocks to do bookkeeping, return e-mails, or clean up your office. Taking care of those little things will provide more time later to tackle the big tasks.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_hengst/5654229469/)

Practice Management

, ,

  • http://www.DanyiLaw.com Kevin F. Danyi, JD, LLM

    Most importantly, keep adequate cash reserves. Even after 15 years as a solo (after 11 as a partner in a small firm), there are great months, poor months, ok-I-can-pay-the-bills months . . . and then there are disasters like illness and divorce that will take you out. I’ve been through the first (serious illness) and am going through the second. Going from filet mignon to rice and beans required some adjustment, but, as Ahhnahld said “I’ll be back”. Seriously, it pays to have cash reserves and a few lines of credit that nobody – not your spouse, kids, or anyone else – can touch. When you are on your own, take this old Eagle Scout’s advice: Be Prepared!