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  • GTD for law office management

    Is anyone an attorney. I would like to know how you implemented GTD in your law practice. I found some old forum archieves on a google search that helped somewhat, but I would like to get those discussions going again.
    Some Questions
    1. Is each case a project or Area of Focus?
    2. How do you handle next actions and hard deadlines?

    Anyone outthere?

  • #2
    I have no experience working in a law office, but my thoughts are:

    1. Is each case a project or Area of Focus?
    Project, definately.

    2. How do you handle next actions and hard deadlines?
    It depends on how your system is organized. With Nozbe (link in my signature), it would be pretty logical -- assign next actions as needed and date the ones with hard deadlines. On their due date, they'd automatically become next actions. It works well for stuff like that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Law Office and GTD

      I am a sole practice estates/trust attorney with one paralegal. Have been working on implementing GTD since about 2005. Still working at it.

      On the definition of project -- I have till recently just made each case a project (use Time Matters so I can see task slips by case easily) but I began trying recently to make sub-projects for the different parts/outcomes in a case. This is still in a trial stage.

      Hard deadlines get entered twice: once as a task/to-do slip that is dated when I create the task, not when due, though it usually will include a note of when due. Then the hard deadline is an event. Depending on what it is, I might make it a 3:00 pm 5 min event to "file/serve opposition to ..." or an 8 am. 5 min event to remind me that sometime that day I have to do x. Both my task and event slips in TM allow me to set reminders ahead of time if needed (like if a Form 706 is due to IRS, it get's 45,30,14,7 day reminders).

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      • #4
        law and gtd

        Thanks Kate
        I guess I am hung up on the project/area of focus. I have a general practice in a small town so I do alot of everything. However, I do alot of personal injury trial work and those cases can last 2 to 3 years. I think there more of an area of focus for me. Maybe it is a distinction without a difference. In all the other case types it works great they are projects.

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        • #5
          I'm a lawyer (employment litigation and counseling, and ERISA litigation). I maintain a different list of all of my cases that hierarchically and mentally resides at about 15k feet: between projects and the areas of focus. It gets reviewed on a less-frequent basis than the project list, but more frequently than the areas of focus list. I found that having the case itself wasn't simply a project, in part for the simple reason that there's not a desired outcome for a case ('win case" neither fully captures it nor is realistic in a world where 90%+ of cases settle). And I found that lumping my list of cases in with my other professional areas of focus (CLEs, administrative, marketing and business development, etc.) didn't feel right. So in my areas of focus I have "Cases" as an item, and I keep a separate list of my cases. About 15k feet.

          Brian

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          • #6
            I treated each client as an area of focus, or each client/case if a client had more than one going. (I'm in house counsel now, so things work a bit differently)

            They can't be projects. As someone mentioned, they usually don't have the kind of definable desired outcome you really need for a project and most always are made up of many different projects.

            The idea of making a case a 15k ft item sort of makes sense, but I think it adds unnecessary complexity to the system. I would simply make them areas of focus are review that list every week to see if new projects need to be created.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by tdb65 View Post
              Thanks Kate
              I guess I am hung up on the project/area of focus. I have a general practice in a small town so I do alot of everything. However, I do alot of personal injury trial work and those cases can last 2 to 3 years. I think there more of an area of focus for me. Maybe it is a distinction without a difference. In all the other case types it works great they are projects.
              I'm not a lawyer or even in the legal profession, but I might be able to offer you some perspective.

              Areas of focus are "important spheres of work and life to be maintained at standards to 'keep the engines running'."* Your legal practice would be an area of focus, so would your relationships with your clients, your family and yourself. Health and vitality, recreation and spiritual practices also fall under this category. They are never something that can be "finished" or "marked off as done". They do, however, spawn projects when they either "fall below the line" or need to be "taken to the next level".

              Projects, on the other hand, are outcomes that require more than one action step. Generally, these outcomes can be achieved within one year, but it varies depending on the nature of the work. A particular case like "Finalize settlement (client ABC vs XYZ insurance)" could be one example, or perhaps filing a particular type of motion in a case could be a project (draft, submit, wait, revise, submit, wait, repeat, etc.)

              You might consider keeping in your reference lists a master list of your clients. Review the list during your weekly reviews and see if anything gets triggered when you look at this list. This way, you can more easily maintain your relationships with your clients.

              I hope that helps a little.

              * Quoted from Making it All Work by David Allen
              Last edited by ellobogrande; 02-02-2009, 09:55 AM. Reason: Grammar

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