Productivity and Lawyering

NeuwirthLawFor Lawyers

I was recently taking my required CLE or continuing legal education and happened to hear a lecture about productivity for lawyers. Productivity or efficiency is just always a struggle for me. I like to get deep into my cases, like a pig rooting around in mud or a bear picking over garbage. But, only really at trial do you have the luxury of doing that on a single case. Otherwise, you may have a day to prepare for a deposition. I learn quickly and mostly know the facts of every case, but the details need refreshing.

Nevertheless, I am fascinated to see people who are productivity mavens and have their time blocked to answer phones, check email, etc. I recently started using MS To Do, which is free with MS Office 365. It is pretty easy to use and like a lot of task programs, but I like it so far, if you are looking for something to focus your time and day.

Since I am a lawyer working on contingency, I do not keep my time or hours. It is a great luxury of my side of the fence as many lawyers come to hate keeping their time every day. But, it also permits time to slip away. I always try to do the most unpleasant task of the day before lunch along with those things that require rapid intellectual effort. So, what are those things? Calling a client and telling them that I don’t think that they have a case worth pursuing. Or, calling and conveying a $1,000 offer to someone in a limited tort case. Basically, it means I am going to either drop the client or refer them to a lawyer who wants those sort of cases. Or, dealing with a claim rep at an insurer who is stuck at a crazy lowball number. Essentially, anything that is emotionally unpleasant, I do before lunch. My wife makes fun of me that my epitaph will read, “He loved lunch.” In the past this was true because I was often eating meals with people and lunch was more enjoyable. Covid has made that less frequent.