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  • GTD for Lawyers?

    Let's hear from some other lawyers about how they customize GTD to their practice. Or any other productivity/time-mgt related tips that are specialized to lawyering. Any comments regarding GTD and billable hours or how to prioritize clients?

    As for myself, as an estate planning associate in a large firm, I have lots and lots of projects in various stages of completion, so I've found GTD and my Palm sooooooo helpful in helping me track the status of each project. The thing that I think has helped me the most is to slavishly keep track of each todo item. For example, if a project is "Draft Joe's revocable trust", every time I give the trust to the word processing department to revise, I make a comment in the note (adding on to all previous comments there) saying "2/7/03: to word processing for revisions" and I change the category to @waitingfor. Also, I process my work inbox and go through my @waitingfor category (at least that one if I don't have time to go through all todos) first thing everymorning, to make sure that "Draft Joe's revocable trust" gets put back on the @work list without sitting on the @waitingfor list too long after WP is really done with it.

    So what techniques have you developed? I'd love to hear.
    Susan

  • #2
    As an attorney, the biggest productivity enhancement from GTD has come in the areas of Project Lists and periodic Reviews.

    My practice involves complex med mal and pharmaceutical products liability litigation. I maintain a list called "caselist", which I term my 15K altitude, because it sits somewhere above the 10K project level, but contains more specific items than my 20K "areas of focus".

    I want to review this list to make sure each case has something moving forward at least once a week, so I include a reminder on my weekly review to check over the list.

    On my project plan, I usually break down most cases into three discreet areas: fact discovery, expert discovery, and trial preparation which are the sequential steps in most of my cases. Each week I review very carefully all the active projects within whichever phase the case happens to be at the time. And on my monthly review I take a step back and look at the bigger picture to make sure my strategy is still in line.

    Comment


    • #3
      Esquire

      Just curious, where do you keep that "caselist" - in what format? Palm todo's?

      I have a large contact base (sales work) and find it challenging to manage the various projects related to it. I've thought about categorizing the address DB, but reluctant to do so.

      Thanks

      Comment


      • #4
        DM,
        My caselist is a category within the Palm memo app. Then, each case (or client) is an entry within that memo. So when I open the Memo "15K-Caselist" I see:

        1. Client A
        2. Client B
        etc.

        Within each entry I store relevant case/client information that I want to have handy wherever I am (i.e. deadlines, name of defense counsel, assigned judge, etc.) So when I open the 1. Client A memo, I see

        Client A

        Trial date 4/7/03
        Expert abc available all days but Monday.

        etc.

        I also keep a physical project support folder in one of my desk drawers labelled for each client/case. This is not the full client file by any stretch, but just someplace to park the "active" paperwork and any ideas I scribble down or mindmap.

        Hope this helps.

        Comment


        • #5
          Check out this thread too.

          http://www.gettingthingsdone.com/for...829fa5bbe34657

          Comment


          • #6
            GTD For Lawyers

            I'm not sure I understand this thread at all. Why do we need to specialize GTD for Lawyers? Do we need GTD for CPA's? GTD for Architects? GTD for Massage Therapists? Or maybe it should just be about getting things done no matter what it is you do.

            Comment


            • #7
              Everybody adapts GTD to their own usage. Lawyers have a common set of obstacles to tackle:

              - A huge amount of paper to process and handle on a daily basis
              - A very large number of active files (projects)
              - A diary system or systems that may be kept separate from their usual hard landscape (file recalls, limitation dates, will review schedule, etc.)
              - Multiple people assigned to one file (partner, senior lawyer, junior lawyer, associate/student, paralegal, etc.)
              - High stress atmosphere
              - Potentially dire consequences if something does slip through the cracks

              The best person to address the issue of how to adapt GTD to these circumstances is someone who is dealing with the same set of obstacles. That does not mean that other professions do not have one or all of these issues to deal with, just that it is a set that is common to lawyers and legal staff.

              You will also see separate threads here on Stay at Home Moms, computer help desks, and project management teams.

              Pam

              Comment


              • #8
                As far as GTD for lawyers does, while the issues and principals are the same, it is their application to a particular work environment and system that may be peculiar to the profession. Indeed, without being familiar with architecture, accounting or massage therapy, I would not rule out a particular GTD approach geared specifically to any of those professions.

                For instance, in the past I have struggled, and continue to debate what "altitude" my individual clients/cases occupy. They're each bigger than projects (which would be reviewed weekly) and therefore shouldn't clog up my Projects list, but are more discreet than any particular "area of focus" (which would be reviewed less frequently, perhaps monthly or quarterly). For example, my "areas of focus" currently include "litigation" (not each particular case), staff relations, new client development, etc.

                Presently, I've come up with this in-between 15K altitude which gives me something to review weekly or as desired, but doesn't clog up either my 10K project level or my 20K areas of focus level.

                If this is helpful to other attorneys in the same situation, great. At the same time, I always enjoy hearing how others handle similar situations.

                Comment


                • #9
                  As far as GTD for lawyers does, while the issues and principals are the same, it is their application to a particular work environment and system that may be peculiar to the profession. Indeed, without being familiar with architecture, accounting or massage therapy, I would not rule out a particular GTD approach geared specifically to any of those professions.

                  For instance, in the past I have struggled, and continue to debate what "altitude" my individual clients/cases occupy. They're each bigger than projects (which would be reviewed weekly) and therefore shouldn't clog up my Projects list, but are more discreet than any particular "area of focus" (which would be reviewed less frequently, perhaps monthly or quarterly). For example, my "areas of focus" currently include "litigation" (not each particular case), staff relations, new client development, etc.

                  Presently, I've come up with this in-between 15K altitude which gives me something to review weekly or as desired, but doesn't clog up either my 10K project level or my 20K areas of focus level.

                  If this is helpful to other attorneys in the same situation, great. At the same time, I always enjoy hearing how others handle similar situations.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm sorry if my response offended anyone. I didn't mean to be anti-lawyer, and I would certainly have no problem with lawyers discusssing among themselves how they get things done. I'm aware that there are certain work issues that are unique to lawyers.

                    What I was really objecting to is the subdividing of GTD, which I think we can all agree is a great concept on its own. We already have two major factions: Palm vs Paper. Then we have subgroups in those factions: Plain Vanilla Palm vs. Add-on Applications. Daytimer vs. Franklin Covey. etc...

                    I'm a Network Administrator, and I have no interest in GTD for Network Administrators. I'm interested in GTD, and it has been a lifesaver for me. Yes, we all take the basic concepts and personalize them for our own usage. But I think it can be taken to an extreme. And that's what I was trying to say.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TPorter2
                      . . . I would certainly have no problem with lawyers discusssing among themselves how they get things done. I'm aware that there are certain work issues that are unique to lawyers.
                      This is exactly what we are doing. Where else are you going to find other lawyers who are working on GTD? That's what the board is for.

                      Whether or not you are a lawyer, I imagine that there are issues that will be discussed in this thread that you will confront in your professional life as well. I learn something from many different threads. I use a Palm, but I can still learn things from the paper-based threads. I use Outlook and Windows, but even discussions of Excel-based GTD and Ecco give me something to think about.

                      Pam

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        GTD for Lawyers

                        I was hoping to revitalize this thread without annoying anyone else. I know recently there was an IT thread which was great. I think there are a number of issues that if not unique to lawyers are different from many other GTD users. Among them the need to satisfy our malpractice carrier for redundent diarying, the need for conflict checking, and like many others the need to keep time records and notes of who, what, where, when for years. I do a lot of estate and business planning. People call and say that they did a will "a few years ago" I have found that that can mean 2 years to over 15 years!
                        I have used Amicus as a case manager and I think it does a good job. I can look at a list of current cases by clicking on the active file. I can diary an appointment or to do for a specific date and time and a have a pleasant voice remind that the appointment with myself for work or a client is in X minutes. What it doesnt do well is the context based GTD lists and of course it doesnt merge into the whole life context. It does list a to do list but that to do list seems to appear even if I have marked it closed or not clicked the remind me box. Its a flaw, that may be limited to the Mac version but its a flaw non the less. As I wrote on the Mac thread Amicus has as yet not upgrade its Mac version for years, has stopped support for Mac and says that it will have another version "sometime" This has lead to a never ending project- Find an alternative Amicus.
                        I do find that the GTD palm system of lists with the @ for each project is very handy. Having a W/F list is terrific for seeing at a glance whoose drafts were sent out when. I have a w/f list Secretary and she has one for me so that we can keep the flow going.
                        I do enter the appts in to Amicus and my Palm but it sure beats carrying the 10 lb planner along with me. Now I carry a small notebook with tear off sheets that I capture notes, phone calls, time spent etc on and check off when its in Amicus and next action in Palm. When I spend a few minutes each day doing that it is a useful way to sum up what I have done that day and what actions need to be done. I do find it hard to take the time to do that at the end of a long day.
                        I do find that if I dont schedule blocks of time to work on a certain file the urgent, the phone etc take over the day. So my secretary and I pick the weekly top 3-5 issues every Friday and work on those gets scheduled for a specific appt with myself time.
                        Of course there are all the other business aspects of running a law practice that have to have a project and come up on the weekly review. I am interested to hear how others handle this.
                        I took a year long course on law office Managment with Atticus. It was terrific. Has anyone else taken that course who is implementing GTD?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Lawyers, bakers, candlestick makers

                          I think ones work will determine the way the apply GTD. I have 150 or so accounts and at any given time I'm trying to win 3-5 million worth of new sales. I have a tough time with the projects because each account is really a project. Then there's all the non-account projects.
                          That and 200 plus next actions make it a challenge with any system including GTD. I'm still not always at peace about what to do next....

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Abacus Law - other practice management software

                            Has anyone tried to use Abacus law or other integrated practice managemnent software with GTD?
                            It woudl be great to be able to integrate general ledger, time/billing, contacts info, forms, etc. in one place and also use GTD
                            Anyone have any experivence doing this?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Here's what I'm doing

                              I have a litigation practice.

                              Essentially, I replaced the word "project" everywhere it is used in GTD with the word "file". Every file is a project.

                              I use things, on my mac book and iphone.

                              My firm is in a windows environment, so I have two computers on my desk when I'm in the office. But I really just use my PC to access the server.

                              The firm uses File Site by Interwoven to keep track of files on the server.

                              When any "stuff" comes in, I "log" it, my word for collect, onto things.

                              When an email comes in, I bill for receipt and review, if it can't be done in two minutes, I then put the action item into the appropriate location in Things.

                              Same for snail mail.

                              Every telephone call I make or receive generates a note on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. Even if it is just a short note like "susan re. conference scheduling". If I can't do the billing note at that moment -- I throw it in the in box with the snail mail. Then as I go through the snail mail, I bill and log whatever action items come from that.

                              I also use things to keep track of projects other attorneys in the firm are working with me on. For example, Adam is preparing draft answers to interrogatories. I will set that up with a "waiting for" tag, put a dead line on it, and list it with Adam as the team member.

                              Filing is where I run into some trouble. Our firm has inadequate resources in this regard. My file clerk can file correspondence, pleadings, motions and deposition transcripts reasonably well. Anything else is a crap shoot.

                              So, I spend my sundays usually doing the rest of the filing myself.

                              I have moved from victim/responder to visionary/crazy maker. I still bite off more than I can chew and wind up struggling to stay ahead of events.

                              I would like to introduce GTD to more of the lawyers in my firm (50+), but I think they would be resistant, for a few reasons.

                              First, litigators view themselves as rugged, seat of the pants types. The idea of spending a sunday with a label maker and two whole punch makes them giggle.

                              Also, our firm culture suggests that if your desk is neat, your slacking.

                              Working to change that, just by leading through example. I'm 10 months into that project. No results so far. Contemplating more direct action, but am leery about being preachy.

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