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This checklist covers strategies to work effectively and efficiently across multiple matters.
Calendar all deadlines
It is critical to make sure no deadlines are missed. Be sure to enter all deadlines for all matters into your calendar as soon as they are known. Also be sure to add reminders well in advance of those deadlines so that you have sufficient time to finalize everything ahead of the deadline with time to spare.
Practice tip: Consider having a back-up hard copy calendar for major deadlines. This ensures you always have easy access to deadline information should you lose your phone or for some reason can’t access your electronic calendar.
Maintain a to do list
Keep a running “to do” list that corresponds with your deadlines to help prioritize your tasks in the upcoming days and weeks. Keeping an evergreen list of deadlines coming in the next week and month will allow you to remain focused on the deadlines as they approach.
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Record time regularly
Regardless of the method for time keeping you use, the best time to record time is right after you spend it on a matter. Time is best entered daily at the end of the day, or the following morning. This keeps you apprised of your hours and the supervising attorney on top of how expenses are running on the matter.
Collect and store key documents
Once you receive or come across an important document in a matter, be sure to put it in a location you will remember. It may be as simple as creating an electronic folder on the network drive. The client case file will have these documents, but keeping your own set together and in a coherent order is useful.
Create useful documents
By creating documents that help you organize case information, you will not only master the facts of the case, but you will also be in a great position to contribute to the overall strategy of a matter.
Some examples of documents that may be helpful in various matters include:
Many matters, whether they are litigation or transactional matters, may benefit from having a chronology of key events. As you gradually learn more about the underlying facts of a matter, create a master chronology of events. Each entry should include:
- a description of the event
- the date
- persons or entities involved
- the source of the information (if a document has been branded with a Bates label and produced in discovery, include that Bates number; otherwise, include information on where to find the document again)
By adding relevant details or even quoting phrases in the chronology, you are creating a searchable dataset to use throughout the matter.
List of key players
Keeping a list of involved persons and entities may also be necessary for large, complex matters.
In litigation matters, a log of key pleadings or discovery requests may be helpful to quickly find where an issue was raised or when a filing was made.
A log of relevant contracts may also be helpful in both litigation and transactional matters to help organize information.
In larger matters, it may prove helpful to create a master contact list so that information is easy to locate. This may include client contacts, firm colleagues working on the matter, vendors, clerk of court, or opposing counsel.
Key matter information
Keep a “cheat sheet” for each active matter you work on that very quickly lays out key information you should know about the case such as “bills in tenths,” “stay issued x date for indeterminate period,” or “partner hates calls – email only.” If you rotate off of a matter and are called back onto it, your cheat sheet will help you more quickly reorient yourself to the case.