I have been working with a local lawyer who recently left a large firm and is now working by herself in a one-person office. She wanted to have more control over her life and have a better work and home balance. She has that now but is missing a lot of the support she had in her old office. I’ve been helping her put systems in place to streamline some of her routine work.
Even though she believes in a high level of communication and support for her clients, she had noticed that she was fielding many calls each week from individuals who wanted to know about the status of their cases. Each call could take between 20-and 30 minutes on average, and many came in on Monday mornings. She would find herself pulling up her notes for each client to share accurate information as she didn’t want to trust her memory. That means she was making contemporaneous notes to files throughout the week and then would recite them verbally on the call. Plus, when clients didn’t call for updates, she felt compelled to call them to provide regular updates. After a time study, these client contacts took the equivalent of about three-quarters of an entire workday each week.
I’ve been setting up many of her systems in Evernote, so I created a summary sheet for each client in the case folder. We set up each sheet to look the same. It included at the top the case number and name, plus pertinent contact information.
Whenever the attorney worked on the case, she would type an update on the summary sheet, including the date of the action taken, next steps, and pending issues
I advised her to have her part-time assistant save each summary sheet as a PDF file and email them to their clients. Now, at the end of the week, each client has a status update. The attorney still gets some questions on Monday mornings, but they tend to be more focused. My client and her assistant report that the amount of time they spend preparing the information and sending them out is minimal. Plus, they have heard from clients who appreciate the frequent status reports.
What do you do now that requires a considerable amount of time that could be streamlined?
Dave Edwards helps professionals become more effective leaders through executive coaching, leading workshops, and consulting services. Previously, he transformed WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio into one of the most successful public radio stations in the country and served as chair of the NPR Board of Directors. He also teaches classes for Marquette University and Alverno College in Milwaukee, plus online at Udemy. He blogs on productivity and management related issues at www.DaveEdwardsMedia.com