Atlanta Lawyers

Time Management Tips for Attorneys

Most of us, including busy lawyers, often feel like there are not enough hours in a work day to get all tasks done. To be sure, time management is a difficult task to master by all. When it comes to the legal profession, attorneys and staff alike are juggling multiple critical tasks at one time. As a result, efficiency is essential to not just getting the legal work done, but also keeping clients happy. If you are unable to manage your time, then it is nearly impossible to be efficient. Below are some tried and true time management tips for lawyers that will hopefully help you properly prioritize your to-do list and better manage your day-to-day work.

●Use a Calendar and To-Do List: Managing your time is much easier when you can easily see the tasks you have to perform laid out in front of you. More importantly, it is best to see due dates well ahead of time — something a calendar and to-do list system can provide. Whether you prefer pen-and-paper or a specific app, organizing tasks and deadlines will help you be efficient, timely, and accountable. This can also allow you to schedule personal events as family is also important.

●Set Deadlines: It is no secret that the practice of law is full of externally-imposed deadlines. It is also important, however, to set your internal deadlines for everything that needs to be done, including daily, routine tasks. These internal deadlines should be respected just like court deadlines. Setting time frames to return calls, answer emails, and send out correspondences will help you avoid the temptation to procrastinate.

●Do Not Multitask: While doing many things at once is often second nature for most attorneys, however, studies show performing numerous tasks at once makes you less efficient on each individual task. So, while psychologically you think you are getting more done, you are not.

●Stop Over-Committing and Ask for Help: Most lawyers have trouble saying no to work. Many attorneys feel that they cannot or are not allowed to refuse. When you are handling too many tasks, you cannot perform those tasks well or up to the standards expected by you and your clients. If you are at capacity, turn down additional projects, so you may focus your full effort on your current clients and activities. Alternatively, you can delegate those tasks to others. While you may be able to do it better, that does not mean you can do it all yourself.

The above tips should be able to help attorneys at any stage of their career not only produce better work and have happier clients but experience a healthier work-life balance.

To save yourself time on your domestic and international process service, court reporting, and deposition needs, you can contact us at Ancillary Legal and Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting.

Part II: Going to Trial? Tips for Young Lawyers

In the second part of our trial tips series, we continue to provide guidance for young lawyers and more experienced ones who want to succeed at trial, or at least put their best case forward. Below are more tips from the American Bar Association (“ABA”) on preparing and conducting trials.
● Create Witness Outlines, Not Questions. The best way is to prepare an outline of areas of questions for witnesses instead of preparing questions ahead of time. Doing so allows you to tell a story through conversation instead of reading exact questions that prevent a fluid question-and-answer witness session. Do, however, have certain questions prepared to ask on redirect to establish a fact or to impeach on cross-examination.
● Expect evidentiary issues. Know the rules of evidence extremely well prior to trial. Re-read the rules so that they are fresh in your mind. Expect to anticipate objections and be prepared to address those objections. If you have a complicated evidentiary issue, prepare a short memo ahead of time so you have a roadmap for your arguments before the court. Be sure to include legal citations and provide the memo to the judge during arguments.
● Use Effective Visual Aids. Even in civil litigation cases, both judges and jurors expect a visual presentation of the case. These visuals should be used during opening statements, when you are examining witnesses, and during closing arguments. The aid will help tell your story visually and support your theory of the case.
● Draft Closing Arguments. Make sure that your closing statement cites both the evidence and the applicable law that supports the merits and theme of your client’s case. Your closing argument should be prepared before trial begins. Create an outline prior to trial that cites testimony and exhibits you expect to be admitted at trial; you can modify your closing as the evidence evolves during trial.
● Observe and Listen. Pay attention to the facial expressions of the jurors and the judge during trial. Also, be sure to listen to the messaging being given to the judge and jury. The questions asked or rulings made by a judge will typically indicate how he or she is thinking regarding important issues and who may be winning the case.
While trial textbooks and other books are vital to preparing for trial, it is best to take a practical approach. Make sure you are prepared for unexpected surprises. Also, ask for help from an attorney who has tried cases before. Experience is the best teacher.
For more trial tips, go to the ABA’s website. For assistance with depositions and court reporting visit us today.

Female Lawyers Are Leaving Law Firms Often Due to Unfair Compensation

A recent American Bar Foundation report based on interviews and focus groups with female lawyers revealed that the most cited reasons for female lawyers leaving law firms was unfair or biased compensation systems. The report was based on 12 focus groups located in six cities as well as 12 individual interviews.

 

The Issues

 

According to the study, female lawyers reported that they originated more work than some of their male counterparts and still received lower pay. The study and report was done in collaboration with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Women in the Legal Profession as part of the ABA’s initiative on long-term careers for female attorneys.

 

According to the ABA’s May 3, 2021 press release, among the combination of factors that affected women’s decisions on whether to remain at their law firms, leave the profession, or move to a different legal job after being in the legal profession for more than 15 years was unfair compensation. A large number of the women in the study were their family’s breadwinners with spouses who were either low-paid or unpaid. The women reported that the pay disparities affected their ability to support their families as well as engage in leadership opportunities at their firms.

 

Multiple female lawyers reported that their firms told them they were making less than their male counterparts because the men had to support a wife and children. Many respondents also noted an inequitable distribution of origination credit for cases.

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

 

In addition to inequitable compensation, additional factors that influenced the women’s decisions to leave the profession included:

 

  • Poor collegiality due to a bullying atmosphere and a hyper-competitive culture;
  • Driven isolation from colleagues due, in part, by ever-increasing demands for billable hours and lack of women in leadership;
  • Behavior that was sexist and racist;
  • The want for more fulfilling, interesting, or challenging work that would remain with senior partners;
  • Being looked over for promotions, particularly to equity partner, especially for women who worked fewer hours; and
  • Unpredictable schedules and long hours, making it difficult to manage personal and professional schedules.

 

There were, however, positive aspects of the profession that respondents identified even if the final decision was to leave the law. This included:

 

  • Intellectual stimulation in the law;
  • Relationships with colleagues at the firm;
  • The ability to help clients solve legal issues;
  • Autonomy in their work;
  • The social impact of the work;
  • Monetary compensation compared to other professions.

 

More information on this topic can be found here.

Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting is proud to be a woman-owned company.

How Lawyers Can Avoid Ethical Pitfalls and Disciplinary Action

Attorneys are stewards of personal and sensitive information provided to them by clients. Lawyers are also officers of the court and are in roles of public trust. The standards placed on attorneys are high, however, and lawyers must carefully mind ethics obligations to avoid running afoul of the rules. That being said, issues can arise. Below are tips on how to avoid ethical pitfalls and disciplinary action according to the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Journal.

 

Tips for Lawyers

 

Most states across the nation require training in ethics as part of lawyers’ continuing legal education requirements. With the economic challenges that have come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, both recently licensed and experienced attorneys have had to reevaluate how they practice — and, sometimes, even their career paths. Law school training, however, may not have properly prepared attorneys (especially newer ones) on the ethical and business related challenges typically faced in small firm or solo practice. This leaves attorneys at these sized firms — both new and veteran — in a more vulnerable place when it comes to disciplinary complaints.

 

  • Create strong office management processes: Not only will this help make sure you can meet your clients’ needs, but a good system is critical for avoiding disciplinary issues. Basics should include a diary and docketing system to keep track of court filing deadlines, hearings, and statutes of limitations. Tickler systems for file reviews will ensure you do so at regular intervals and prevent things from slipping through the cracks;
  • Intake screening is key: Learning when to accept a potential client’s case and when to reject it is important. Discerning when a potential client will be difficult is a critical skill. Know that you do not have to take every potential client’s case but, rather, you can use discretion in client selection. Undertaking matters in diverse areas of law requires you learn those areas, possibly leaving you overwhelmed or unable to develop an expertise;
  • Client and third party funds are sacred: Repeat this to yourself on a daily basis. Lawyers have both a fiduciary and ethical duty to maintain, handle, and disburse client funds only for their intended purpose. These practices must be consistent with relevant rules and applicable law — so learn the trust accounting rules in your jurisdiction. Misuse of client’s funds will guarantee disciplinary action;
  • Communicate often: Lack of communication is one of the top complaints made against attorneys. When an attorney does not promptly respond to a client’s emails or phone calls, they become frustrated and dissatisfied. Ethical rules require attorneys to keep a client reasonably informed about their matters and promptly comply with reasonable requests;
  • Diligently follow-through: When clients’ matters are neglected, disciplinary charges often include lack of communication. If an attorney just stops working on a matter or delays his or her work, this can be a problem. Accepting a legal matter on behalf of a client requires diligent follow-through until the representation has finished.

 

For more legal practice tips from the ABA, click here.

For more legal tips on our blog, check out How Lawyers can improve their Online Reputation and Creating Opportunities in your Legal Career.