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GUIDE – MUST DO LEGAL
Jeff Morris is now a Partner at Edge International, one of the leading global consultants for law firms around the world. He practiced law and mediation for 30 years and was formerly Managing Partner at his law firm of over 150 professionals and staff. Jeff is the technical consultant behind Must Do Legal. .
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. The Problem with To-Do Lists
III. The Must Do Time Management System for Lawyers
Step 1. Creating a “Must Do Today” List
Step 2. Estimating Time
Step 3 Setting Priorities
Step 4 Time Tracking
IV. The Key To Meeting Your Billing Budget
V. Play Time Management Football
VI. What am I Worrying About Most?
VII. Using the Must Do System
VIII. Downloading the optional productivity App for iPhone and iPad on iTunes
“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.“ – Victor Hugo
Over thirty years ago, when I started my first job as a young lawyer, one of the senior partners dropped by to talk to me. He carried a piece of paper in his hands covered with red checkmarks.
Ron opened the conversation firmly, “Jeff, I can’t figure it out, you’re working long hours and even weekends, yet this monthly billing report shows that you’re recording less than three hours of productive work a day. What the heck are you doing with all your time?”
I survived that meeting, but only to experience an equally unpleasant one with another senior partner. Peter marched into my back office, his face red, eyes wide. In an angry voice he said: “I’ve just received calls from clients and they’ve received “past due notices” from accounting for unpaid legal accounts and they’re saying they’ve never received a Statement of Account for these files you’re working on for me.” Glancing down, on the corner of my desk, Peter noticed a stack of two month-old invoices – somehow that had eluded the mailbox.
I survived – again.
Let’s fast-forward twenty years. Now burdened with an extremely busy corporate and commercial litigation law practice, did anything change?
That year, I was an active member of the firm’s Executive Management committee, on the Strategic Planning committee, acting Team Leader for the Corporate Group and Co-Chair of Marketing committee. Outside of the office, our growing family business demanded more of my time. Anything else? Yes, that year, I wrote and published my first novel and trained rigorously for my Black Belt test in Okinawan Karate. Everything worked out perfectly.
So, I went from “disaster” to mastering my time and productivity, but after twenty years and many painful lessons. Now, as part of my Executive Coaching practice, I teach my clients the “Must Do” time management system that I attribute to revolutionizing my day.
Benjamin Franklin wisely said, “Do not squander time, for that is the stuff that life is made of.” Time management is not just about being more productive at work – it’s also about opening up space for all the things you love to do, or more precisely, you’d love to do, if only you could find the time.
The truth is that you can only make time by taking it away from one activity and giving it to another. It’s all about choosing the right priorities and avoiding time wasters. That’s what finding more time means. And the four-step Must Do time management system will help you do just that.
Time Management for Lawyers
Why do we place so much emphasis on managing our time as lawyers? You’ve heard it many times before – time is money. As lawyers, it is all that we have to sell, a lawyer’s “stock-in-trade” is his or her time – that’s all there is!
In a July 22, 2010 article, the Economist magazine raises an alarming concern:
“Experts and surveys estimate that between 10% and 30% of hours are never billed by tired and overworked attorneys who cannot keep track of every piece of work they do.”
After being at the Bar for 30 years and now consulting on time management for law firms, I can relate. I hated the billable hour. But, until alternative fee arrangements become the norm, we are stuck with it.
Why be concerned? Sadly, according to one recent survey, over 3,954 lawyers were laid off from just 100 law firms due to economic pressures. Financial demotions are being handed out to Partners who miss budget. In these difficult times, now is not the time to be behind budget or not to maximize productivity. Almost all of the lawyers that I work with have struggled for years with time management issues and capturing time, and they constantly feel like they are falling behind and never catch up or get ahead. Meeting the firm’s lofty billing target is a constant worry and strain. Most often, I find that many lawyers lack the fundamentals and basics on how to manage time at advanced levels.
After all, law schools and law firms have largely failed to train practitioners in the science of productivity — leaving them to figure it out on their own.
The average lawyer faces endless interruptions throughout the workday, between emails, phone calls and people asking for things. This book is aimed at fine-tuning time management skills and introducing a new productivity system that I have used with success with my coaching clients over the years. Clients acknowledge that this system not only made them more productive, but also lowered daily stress and gave them far more control over their day. So what I have to say has equal value to lawyers and attorneys who are already meeting their billing goals and doing a good job with time management.
Recently, I have taken the paper-based system and converted it to a mobile app solution, Must Do Legal, available on iTunes. To my surprise and delight, the system is helping lawyers who have struggled with focus and concentration.
Here is one recent post our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/mustdolegal
“I am an attorney with ADHD, and I absolutely love must do legal, and this is only my second day using it. I have moved it to the coveted first page of my apps. Yesterday, I got more priority work done- work that I know I wouldn’t have “found time” to do otherwise. The best part was being able to get a report at the end of the day answering the question, “where did the day go?” I could end the day with satisfaction instead of ending the day with the distraction of the ever-present pile of unfinished work and the guilt of having not completed it again today. I feel 50 lbs. lighter!”
Even if you are not ready for this step, you can stay with the paper and pen approach to Must Do Legal.
The Problem with To-Do Lists
“I always write ‘Wake Up’ on my To-Do-List so I can at least accomplish one thing a day.” – Unknown
Why not just use the venerable “to-do” list to stay organized and productive? The answer – they don’t work.
The problem with the typical to-do list is that it is “unlimited”, meaning that it is never completed. By definition, a to-do list is a collection of everything you need to do. There may be days, weeks or even months of work or client actions on this list.
How many to-do lists are unstructured, outdated, incomplete or impossibly long? Paper to-do lists seem to disappear. Even worse, if you have one, you have to re-write and cross off to-dos to keep it current. Some people give up and keep everything they need to do in their head and trust their memory. All of these practices will kill your ability to work at peak performance.
The problem with an “unlimited” to-do list is that it actually saps energy to do the work, rather than instill motivation. Having an unlimited amount of work on your to-do list, and feeling like you are falling behind, means you are losing the time management battle. How am I going to get all of this done? How do I dig myself out from under the burden of work? How do I find time for other responsibilities, like marketing or non-billable activities?
Of more concern is that unlimited to-do lists can sometimes promote procrastination on the files we least likely want to do, as they seem to stay at or near the bottom of our list. Isn’t it true that less important matters sometimes jump ahead of the files that we really don’t feel motivated to work on?
On the other end of the spectrum, if you do not have a current and complete to-do list or you keep everything you need to do in your mind then you are creating a layer of stress, without even knowing it. In his seminal work, Getting Things Done, time management guru David Allen calls these psychological “open loops”, which means that they are things that are outstanding and pulling for your attention. Your precious mental energy is burned up when you constantly need to think, worry and remember what you need to get done. The casualties are concentration and even, restful sleep. When you write down what’s on your mind, and stop worrying about forgetting things, you immediately free up critical mental resources, energy and focus for the tasks that lie ahead.
As you can see, if you are not using an advanced, trusted system for keeping track of everything you need to do then you cannot possibly work at peak performance. This is why a percentage of billable hours may slip away from your day, often, without you even realizing it.
THE MUST DO LEGAL TIME MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Winston Churchill headed his daily to-do list with the words, “Actions This Day”.
STEP 1 – Creating a “Must Do Today” List
The first step in this effective time management system is to ask this fundamental question:
What are the tasks that I absolutely “must do” this day?
This is the central premise of the Must Do Legal system (and app available on iTunes) for lawyers – only focus on what you “must do” during the workday. These are not the things or tasks that you would “like” to get done today. This is not a wish list or what you hope to achieve by the end of the day.
Rather, these are the critical tasks that you absolutely must do before you turn off the lights at the office, or later, at home. That’s it!
First, empty your mind and collect all of your to-dos in one place. This includes paper to-do lists, sticky notes, telephone messages, short memos, reminders, critical emails and so on. I call these Tasks (these go on the Task List in the iTunes app). They are simply the next action you need to do to advance a particular client matter. When you write down what’s on your mind, and stop worrying about forgetting things, as I have said, you immediately free up critical mental resources, energy and focus for the tasks that lie ahead.
Second, after creating an unlimited list of Tasks, which can be lengthy in a busy practice, you then create a daily limited list of Tasks to work on. This limited list is called “Must Do Today” (the bottom left tab in Must Do Legal app).
When creating your Must Do Today list, follow what I call “The Rule of Five”. There are likely no more than five pressing Must Dos that need your immediate attention this day. Start your day with those Must Dos. You can always add less important Tasks to your Must Do Today list if and when you finish the first five.
If feel overburdened with everything you need to do, then stop and ask yourself: “How can I pare down my Must Do Today list or delegate items to others? Is there anything that can actually wait until tomorrow, or later?” Assess each potential Must Do and if it absolutely does not have to be done today, defer it until later in the day, or until tomorrow or later in the week.
Again, you need to be really selective. The Tasks you would “like to do” may only be a tease. They often represent the things you prefer to work on, but which are not necessarily what is most critical or important at that moment. They are simply distractions. Focus only on what you must do! Select just five Tasks as Must Dos.
Next, when considering the top five Must Dos to start with, there is one pivotal question to answer:
If I do not complete this work by the end of the day, or at least get started on a multi-day assignment, will my client’s perception of the quality and timeliness of my work suffer?
Client surveys show that timeliness is just as important as quality in the delivery of legal services. Will the price of your professional stock drop in the eyes of your client if you turn out work late? Do not give your client a reason to stop trusting you when you say you will have something ready – and then don’t deliver.
(Note to app users: the Must Do Today screen has an add button that lets you automatically pick from your entire list of Tasks and place them on your Must Do Today screen).
What about those “urgent” matters that others throw at you each day? Many are real, while others are not. Always stop and ask this question:
Is this interruption more important or less important than the items on my Must Do Today list?
If more important, create a Must Do immediately and prioritize it in the list of Must Dos. If it really is not as important as all of the other Must Dos, then defer it to a later. Create a Task on the longer Task List for a deferred to-do, so you won’t forget it, and then you can go back to that item on the day it actually must be done.
(Note to app users: add the item to the Task List by selecting the tab at the bottom and using “Add Task” button).
When to Create your Must Do List
Your daily Must Do Today list should be the very first thing you do when you arrive at the office before anything else. Complete your Must Do Today list before checking emails, listening to voice mail, talking with your colleague or checking the Internet. Make this a daily habit.
The good news is that it should take no more than ten minutes to organize your day. If you can complete your Must Do Today list during your commute to work, do so. Otherwise, as soon as you sit down in your office chair, type or write out your list, or open the Must Do Legal app and set up the day’s Must Dos.
Some lawyers prefer to draw up the next day’s Must Do list at the end of the workday or before bed, so that the evening or sleep is free from trying to remember what must be done the next day. That is also a healthy practice.
(note: the app allows you to do this if you like in Must Do Tomorrow or in Planner).
STEP 2 – Estimating Time
“Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves” – Lord Chesterfield (1694 – 1773).
Have you ever noticed that if you have a half-day to do something, you’ll often take that much time to get it done? Yet, if you only have one hour, you’ll find a way to get it done?
This is known as Parkinson’s Law, which states:
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
This is attributed to Cyril Northcote Parkinson in an article published in The Economist in 1955. The key to any effective time management system is to set mini-work deadlines for each to-do, and work to that deadline.
On your Must Do Today short list of Must Dos that must be done today, quickly estimate the time it will take you to complete each Must Do, thereby setting a time goal.
(Note to app users: there is a box in the Must Do details screen for the estimate. You can change it at as you wish).
Setting a limited amount of time to do something means you will be forced to be efficient to get it done. Don’t busy days feel more productive than slow days? Aren’t you incredibly productive the day before you leave for a planned vacation? Of course, because we all know that we have only so many hours to squeeze in everything that must get done that day and we are judicious in the time we allot to completing each task.
So, why not practice law everyday like it’s our last day before vacation? The Must Do Legal system helps you do just that – but without the stress associated with leaving for an imminent vacation.
STEP 3 – Setting Priorities
Ivy Ledbetter Lee (July 16, 1877 – November 9, 1934), one of the founders of modern public relations, worked for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He was renowned for his advice to managers to list and number their top priorities every day, and work on tasks in the order of their importance and not proceeding until a task was completed. For this suggestion, company CEO Charles M. Schwab, allegedly paid Lee $25,000, saying it had been the most profitable advice Schwab had ever received.
Following this wisdom, the Must Do Legal system recommends that after selecting your top five Must Dos, that you set a priority, e.g. from No. 1, as most important, to No. 5 as least important.
(App users: you can move each Must Do by using the Edit button and finger to re-order, and the app will automatically re-number each Must Do according to the new priority set.)
Next, begin your day with Must Do No. 1 and only move to the next item when you have completed the first item to your satisfaction, so you do not have to go back to it.
(Note to app users: After you complete each item, touch the completed box and the Must Do drops to the bottom and shows as completed. The next Must Do on the list moves automatically to No. 1. You can always go back to a completed Must Do by touching the check mark in the completed box, and it will pop back on your active Must Do Today list.
If at the end of the day there are any Must Dos that remain undone, then simply move them to the top of your Must Do list for tomorrow. For example, #5 Must Do, if not finished, becomes #1 tomorrow.
(Note to app users: The app has a Move feature which allows you to select any Must Do from Must Do Today, and move them to a screen for tomorrow called “Must Do Tomorrow”. When you arrive at work the next day, those Must Dos will be there and appropriately numbered at the top of your list. This saves the need to re-enter Must Dos from the prior day that remain undone.
STEP 4 – Time Tracking
When you estimate your time for each Must Do, both billable as well as for non-billable (and personal) to-dos, then you can easily add up the total and see how much you must get done in the course of the day. Obviously, placing 26 hours of work on your Must Do Today list is a recipe for disaster, and brings unwelcomed stress.
Instead, try to leave some time for unexpected matters that come up during your day. You’ll need time for emails and phone calls. If you plan to be at the office for 10 hours, and your daily billing target is 7 hours, then when you first set up your Must Dos keep your target in mind. Thus, when you can see the total hours of all billable work slated for the day on your list, you have the comfort of knowing you will meet your firm’s daily billing budget – so you stay on the budget track.
(Note to app users: The app has a Day’s Stats summary at the bottom of the Must Do Today screen that shows you all the work slated for the day, including estimated billable hours, billed hours completed and a percentage of completion).
Equally important, when you estimate your time for any particular Must Do, and keep your time accurately, this gives you immediate feedback whether you are taking too long to complete that work or not. Will the client be willing to pay for the time it took to do this work? Will you need to write-down that time? Are you surprised that you are taking longer than the task warrants? This feedback may help you decide if you should spend less time on similar tasks or possibly delegate that work to lower hourly billers.
(Note to app users: each Must Do shows you the Estimated Time and logs the Billed Time with the auto timer that you can turn on, and off.)
For lawyers who work on fixed or flat fee retainers, it’s even more critical to track your time on each Must Do. If your total recorded time exceeds your fixed fee, you may be losing money on that file. When you begin to understand where certain parts of the file took longer to do than anticipated, you can adjust fee estimates or on RFPs, if need be, for future fixed or flat fee assignments.
THE KEY TO MEETING YOUR BILLING BUDGET
How often have you left the office at the end of a day feeling deflated, because you’ve billed less than your daily average of time needed to meet your annual budget? It’s also easy to be discouraged when you are below budget as the year-end approaches.
Very often, time management, and not the lack of work, is the culprit. Why is this? Like a race, if you fall behind early on, it may not be possible for you to “catch up” and cross the finish line ahead of your billing target for the day. What do I mean by this?
Think about a sporting event where one team is far behind its opponent in the last quarter or period of the game. Or, imagine a marathon runner who is one minute behind the frontrunner in the final home stretch. In both examples, it’s virtually impossible to catch up.
The same holds true in your workday. If you are behind in your docketing at four o’clock in the afternoon, you simply can’t catch up, unless you are willing to stay late and pay a price. That’s an option, but not always possible or desirable.
“Falling behind” during the month is a bigger issue. If you are behind on billable hours on the 25th day of the month, it means you are in a serious “catch up” dilemma once again. Will this be a source of stress? Absolutely. How easy is it for a baseball team to come back from ten games back? The same applies to your law practice.
How do you stop the “falling behind” billings dilemma? Think about drag racing, horse racing or the 100-meter dash. The competitor who gets out of the starting gate or blocks FIRST has the advantage to win the race. Did you know that the team that scores first in the Super Bowl wins the game approximately 70 per cent of the time?
When I work with lawyers who battle to reach their daily billing quota, it’s common to find that they are not logging sufficient time early in their day – they crawl out of the starting gate. It can be as innocuous as arriving at the office and having a coffee, reading the newspaper, or checking emails for the first hour. Then, it takes time to listen to phone messages and wade through the pile of mail on the desk. A colleague may drop by to have a brief chat about last night’s game or a favorite TV show. Does this sound familiar?
If you have not logged a sizeable “chunk” of billable time by mid or late morning, then you will have the stress and pressure during the day to “catch up”. Set a goal to have at least one to two billable hours logged before ten o’clock in the morning. Having those hours logged by mid-morning will give you a boost of confidence and enthusiasm that you are on your way to meeting or even exceeding your daily billing quota.
(Note to app users: The Must Do Legal app helps you monitor your billable hours progress during the day and shows you the percentage of completion of billable work that needs to be done. For a week, start by tracking how much billable time you have logged by ten o’clock in the morning in the Must Do Legal app).
What happens between the time you wake up and ten o’clock in the morning? In chronological order, estimate the time you spend on various activities during this period of time and write it down. You may spend half an hour reading the morning paper or an hour getting the children to day care. Perhaps you spend twenty minutes deleting junk mail and fifteen minutes cleaning up the mess on your desk so you can find your files. Maybe you surf the net to get last night’s scores or to check on your stock portfolio.
Ask yourself: “Are there any early morning rituals or habits that I can eliminate completely or move to a later part of the day to open up space to complete between one and two hours of billable work by ten o’clock in the morning?” If not, can you wake up earlier to get a head start on your docketing? At a minimum, I recommend that you defer getting extensively “involved” in email, phone messages or mail until you have billed one to two hours of time first. A quick scan is fine for checking for urgent matters. But everything else can wait. Why? The reason is that it’s difficult to capture billable time during those activities. Instead, jump into a file and get some solid time logged. In fact, don’t do anything that is “non-billable” until you have at least one hour of time logged in Must Do Legal.
To follow the system effectively you must avoid entering your Dockets at the end of the day, or the next workday. This can create gaps in information, if you don’t recall all the work that was done, or underestimate how much time was spent on each piece of work.
More important, by keeping your Dockets throughout the day, you can monitor how many hours are left during the day to meet, or exceed, your daily preset budget.
Play Time Management Football
Divide your workday into four equal quarters of time. Use your lunch break as “half time.” The goal is to be ahead of the game at the end of each quarter in your day. For example, if your billing target is 8 hours a day, then you should have 4 hours logged by the mid-point of your day. You should have 2 hours logged by the end of the first quarter of the day. Keep track of your stats.
(Note to app users: Check your time docketing in Must Do Legal at the end of each quarter period and see your percentage of completion. Are you ahead, or behind?)
If by the end of the third quarter you have logged close to your daily quota, then you can coast comfortably for the rest of the day. However, if you have little time logged by the end of the first quarter, then you are going to have to work very efficiently and will be faced with the decision whether you stay late to make your billing quota.
After the first week or two of tracking your progress in this manner in Must Do Legal, it will become apparent to you exactly when during the day you are falling behind in your docketing. Try to uncover a pattern.
The goal of Must Do Legal is to make the most of the hours you have at the office and docket the maximum possible. Ultimately, the payoff is to work fewer hours and get home earlier to spend more time with the family, enjoy a game of golf or go out to cycle in the park.
WHAT AM I WORRYING ABOUT MOST?
Out of your entire load files, it is not unusual that there may be one or more files that get left behind in your practice. This is a common concern for most, if not all practitioners. And when you think about that file or files, you get an inner sinking feeling, and you may begin focusing on other tasks to take your mind off what you really don’t feel like doing. It’s not uncommon for lawyers to wake up in the middle of the night with feelings of anxiety or panic. Usually, you can trace these fears to one or two specific files or situations, feeling that they are about to blow up. What’s the best solution? Attack these worries by shining the light on these files.
It’s normal to feel this way about certain files. Often, if you have never handled a particular type of case before or if the issues are complex and foreign to your current knowledge level, you can get stuck or blocked.
Let me reassure you that you are not ignoring these files because you don’t care that the work gets done or not. Rather, you are not moving these files along precisely because you care so much about doing professional work, but you may simply feel uncertain about whether you are proceeding in the appropriate fashion.
Therefore, see this as a learning opportunity and give yourself permission not to be “perfect” around new or complex issues where you have had little experience. You will get it right, it’s just going to take longer until you arrive at a feeling of comfort that you are on the right path. The important point is to work at the files in a slow and deliberate, and consistent, manner. Instead, face them out in the open, head on, where you have control and power.
I recommend the following 4 steps to deal with procrastination and worry:
Step 1 Write down the answers to the following:
What are five files that I feel behind on the most? Which ones do I tend to worry the most about? These are the ones that you have the greatest fear of failure or embarrassment about a possible adverse outcome.
Step 2 After you finish this list, rank the files, starting with the one that you feel most concerned to least. At a minimum put no. 1 biggest concern on your list for Must Do Today. In fact, why not make it your first Must Do of the day. Set a goal to knock off all these “files of fear” within a time deadline. Make sure you keep these files on your general Task List and give all five files a “high” priority. Diarize when you will start and complete each of the five files you are worrying about.
(Note to app users. When you add each of these worry files to your Task List, set up Start Date with a Must Do when they need to appear automatically on your Must Do Today list. You should also set a Due Date for completion and the App even gives you the ability to set a Reminder of the Due Date. Alternatively, you can also use Planner to insert each of your worry files into your Must Do calendar).
Step 3 Estimate your time to complete these five files. How much time should you devote to file “catch-up”? Answer this question:
How many hours will it take for you to feel in control of these files?
On your Must Do Today list, estimate the time for each file that you need to devote. Put in appointments in your calendar for dedicated time slots, so that you block out to work on your No. 1 file of concern. Give yourself a self-imposed deadline. It may be helpful if you tell your assistant that you need to finish this file by this deadline and ask for assistance or help.
Above all, treat the time you have selected to work on this file as sacred. Nothing should interrupt or derail your work. Turn off the phone and shut your door. Tell your colleagues and assistant not to disturb you unless it’s urgent.
If you still feel overwhelmed, are there any files, or parts of a file, that can be delegated? Do that now.
Step 4 I suggest you retrieve these files now, or parts of the files you are working on, and put them somewhere where they are easily accessed. If you feel that placing them all on the corner of your desk will be counter-productive, that is fine. But put them somewhere that you cannot avoid or ignore.
Meet with your assistant or paralegal and draft up an “action plan” to address work backlogs. Set up an “assembly line” to automate the work that needs to be done on a strict schedule. Assess the progress after one week.
If you are seriously behind, ask your assistant to stop booking any new appointments for you, other than new clients or other critical matters that are needed to maintain your practice. Can you put off that Discovery for an extra month? Can you delay that business trip? What appointments can you reschedule or move without an adverse impact on your practice? Do it now.
If you have far too much work on your plate, speak to the other lawyers in your firm who are sending you files. Don’t take on any more files. Can you make other arrangements in your firm to handle this work? Are there colleagues who can take firm files for a few weeks until you are caught up? If you are in solo practice, be extra judicious on the kinds of files you accept. Turn down files that may require immediate action, and which won’t really add to the long-term success of your law practice.
If you have more work than you can handle, how do you decide? Look at the big picture and longer-term impact on your practice. What can you reassign, give up or withdraw from that will have the least long-term impact on the success of your file. Use that as the acid test.
Using the Must Do System
“I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” - Louis E. Boone, academic author
After you are familiar with the Must Do Legal system and also, optionally, the app, it will take no more than 5 minutes to assemble a tailored work plan for the day. Is there any better use of 5 minutes than organizing your day?
This new habit will reduce stress and significantly improve your focus and efficiency at the office. It is your anchor to reality. As you shut off the light at the office to head home, you will have a settled feeling that you have accomplished everything you needed to get done. Perhaps you can even turn off your phone or work email with a clear conscience and simply forget about work for the rest of the evening.
For more information or to download the Must Do Legal app visit: www.mustdolegal.com
ITUNES DOWNLOAD LINK:
Appendix A. Special Notes for Must Do Legal app users:
Forming new habits can take three or more weeks to develop. New habits can be easily formed when implementing the Must Do Legal app in your daily routine. All of the steps above, 1 to 4, are fully automated in the Must Do Legal app. The Dockets field is located in each Must Do details screen.
The other area, that is optional, is to keep your Dockets in the app. Some lawyers enter their Dockets at the end of the day, or the next workday. This can create gaps in information, if you don’t recall all the work that was done, or underestimate how much time was spent on each piece of work.
By keeping your Dockets throughout the day, you can monitor how many hours are left during the day to meet, or exceed, your daily preset budget.
A key feature of the Must Do Legal app, and to optimize time management, is the ability during your day to monitor your Estimated Billable hours needed for the day versus the Total Billable Hours logged. This is shown both numerically and by way of percentage of completion in the Day’s Stats on the Must Do Today screen. Since the app is always with you on your mobile device, it’s easy to develop the habit of entering your Docket after completion of each Must Do.
At the end of the workday, you can email your day’s Dockets to yourself and/or an assistant, to enter the Dockets into your billing software.
The app also takes advantage of Apple’s latest technology innovation, voice to text transcription. You can dictate your Docket in the app and it will appear in text. This can be copied and pasted into your main billing software. The app also gives you the option to attach your client file, or billing code, with Docket reports for easy data entry.)
Appendix B. Other Habit Forming App Features
The Must Do Legal app has a reminder feature in Settings. You can set a daily reminder, during the weekdays, and even weekends, to prompt you to enter your Must Dos. For example, if you generally come to the office at 8 a.m. each day, you can set a Reminder at that time to appear on your mobile device.
In Settings, you have the option of emailing yourself a daily report showing you all the Must Dos completed. This option is available when you touch the COMPLETED DAY button on the Must Do Today screen at the end of the day. You can email this report to a colleague or your assistant as well as to yourself. Ask your assistant or a colleague to be a “buddy” to help remind you if a daily Dockets report from the app has not been received.
For more information or to download the Must Do Legal app visit:
|Jeff Morris, LL.B. formerly practiced law for 21 years and served as Managing Partner for his law firm of over 150 professionals and staff. Jeff is now a Partner at Edge International, one of leading consultants to large law firms in the U.S. and is the Founder of Must Do Legal, the first mobile time management app for lawyers. At Edge, Jeff assists lawyers in new client marketing strategies and practice expansion initiatives, improvement of time management and billings, career transitions and lateral moves and website marketing and social media strategies. Jeff was former Chair of his firm’s Marketing Committee and developed and implemented marketing plans for the firm’s Practice Groups. As a member of the firm’s Strategic Planning Committee, Jeff worked on long term planning and practice growth initiatives. He was also a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and dealt with budgets, staffing, receivable management, banking and expansion. In his management role, he implemented Practice Group Leader training and modernized the firm’s partnership compensation formula. Jeff also brings his entrepreneurial background to his legal consulting and coaching practice. He served as CEO of a group of family-owned companies in the commercial appliance sector and was the founder of the first international seafood company to do business on the Internet. His pioneering Internet startup received media coverage on CNN and The Food Network and in Time magazine. Jeff obtained a coaching degree in 2005 from CoachU, one of the leading global coaching training organizations. As a Black Belt in Uechi-Ryu karate, and as a fitness and martial arts enthusiast, Jeff also helps lawyer-clients work on personal health goals and achieve better work/life balance.|