Time: A Lawyer’s Most Valuable Asset (Part A)

You may think that your qualifications and degrees are your most valuable asset as a lawyer, but in truth it's your time. Without effective time management for lawyers, your knowledge and skills are worthless because you're never going to have time to put them to good use.

Take a Look at a Day in the Life of You

You may think you're pretty good at getting things done during the day. You have your smartphone with its calendar, you're punctual for meetings, you've got daily task lists, life is organized. I'd like you to take one day and log what you do over the course of your work hours. Note when you're working on a case, when you take a conference call, when your partner pops in your office to discuss a client, everything including your lunch break (if you manage to take one).

Now look at your day - how much of your time is wasted on unimportant things? You took a call from a client and ended up chit-chatting for an extra 20 minutes, that email you were glancing at led you to take 10 minutes to look at your stock portfolio while you happened to be on the Internet. Things you don't actively realize you're doing have already eaten up 30 minutes of your precious time!

How do I determine what's worth my time?

Everyone is going to have a different idea of how time management for lawyers should work, because every lawyer has a different kind of view on what cases take priority. A good starting place is to focus on the case that's got the most time-sensitive work to do. If you're starting trial in a week, you may want to make that case your priority for the next few days.

Another way to focus your time management is on value; make sure you're not wasting too much time on the small cases (that's what paralegals are for). Put your effort into the big money case your legal marketing helped you land, because that case may be funding your office for the next few months.

The key to time management for lawyers is to effectively balance important work like case research and development along with less important but necessary things like e-mail, phone calls, and running your office.

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Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.