Organizing paperless client files is not much different from organizing paper files, but it is much easier to create those file folders — for Mac users, at least. As Dan Sherman explains in the LAB, all you need is the free Automator utility and you can set up a script that will automatically create a new client file folder like we recommend.
You can also do it with Hazel, the popular automation software, which can watch your Client Files folder for new folders and automatically add your folder structure and any default files (like your letterhead or pleading templates).
Read “Automating File Creation on Mac” in the LAB.
In the last post on Microsoft Word’s Styles feature, we learned how to apply Styles to the text in your documents and how using Styles can enhance legal document readability and enforce consistent document standards.
Using the skills developed in the last Styles post, you can tweak an existing Style set to your liking. But how do you save it for future use? And can others in your workgroup use it, too?
Keep Reading ⇒
After trying out numerous methods of tracking my cases and related tasks, I have finally found what seems to work best. I love Getting Things Done (GTD), but the system does not necessarily translate smoothly to a law practice. I have tried using Outlook, but my productivity suffered from not being able to look at the “big picture” at a glance. So I went back to paper. I tried numerous things, and eventually settled on a hybrid of GTD and the weekly work plan my wife uses.
My work plan is a weekly affair. I take Sunday night or Monday morning to sit down and type up my weekly work plan. My template has five days up top for Most Important Tasks (MITs) for each day, and below are a row for each case, broken up into columns for “case,” “upcoming dates,” “do now,” “do later,” and “waiting for,” the basic GTD action categories.
My work plan serves as a “tickler” as well as a catalog of important due dates (I put all my scheduling order dates on it) and a holding cell for every task on every open file.
You can download my work plan template in Open Document Format (ODF) or Word format (DOC).
After I was evangelizing about OpenOffice.org recently, a colleague in California pointed out that OOo, unlike Word, does not have a convenient wizard or template for making legal pleadings for states like California that require line numbering. He is right, but there are plenty of good templates available online, like these from SmallDataProblem.org (search down the page for “California”).
One of Outlook‘s most astonishing omissions–which is in no way remedied in version 2007–is the lack of a way to go directly from a contact to a printable envelope. My workaround is pretty good, although not as pretty as I would like. I just create a folder called ‘Envelopes’ inside my My Documents/Business Files directory and organize envelopes by lastname, firstname.doc. I then attach those to my contacts using the attach files feature.
It works fairly well, although I still think it is ridiculous that Microsoft has not yet seen fit to give us a direct link from contacts to envelopes.