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Maximizing Your Google Workspace Subscription to Manage Your Solo Practice

Ramon L Vinas-Bueso


  • Most of your practice can be managed using only the Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive applications from your Google Workspace suite—without additional software.
  • The first step is to decide on a naming structure, which will be kept throughout the life of your project or matter.
  • The next step is to set up your Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive and then put it all together.
Maximizing Your Google Workspace Subscription to Manage Your Solo Practice
Hao WANG / 500px via Getty Images

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There are numerous legal-specific applications designed to help you run your office, but with the right setup, most of your practice can be managed using only the Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive applications from your Google Workspace suite—without additional software.

Select Your Naming Structure

First, decide on the naming structure you will be using for your office, as you will be using these to name your labels in Gmail, your calendars in Google Calendar, and your folders in Google Drive. In addition to your active projects and matters, you will need to categorize your administrative data and the data from your prospective clients and also store your inactive projects or matters for recordkeeping.

An alphanumeric system allows you to sort and categorize your data and is simple to recall. Categorize your administrative matters under the “000” series and your prospective clients under the “100” series. You can further differentiate your active matters by assigning your contingency matters the “200” series, your hourly matters the “300” series, and your flat-fee matters the “400” series. Then, create sub-categories for each of your series, depending on the nature of the data. Following these guidelines, you could decide on adopting a naming structure similar to this:

  • 000.100.ADM.COR: A designation for your offices’ corporate resolutions, easily remembered due to the “000” series and “ADM” and “COR” nomenclature.
  • 000.200.ADM.TAX: As above, except this is for tax matters.
  • 100.001.PRO.WEH: For a prospective client with the initials “WEH.”
  • 200.001.JAD.ROC: A contingency matter where you represent a client with the initials “JAD” and the opposing party is “ROC.”
  • 300.001.TOC.TMM: As above, except on an hourly matter with a different client and adversary.
  • 400.001.LIM.QAF: A flat-fee matter where you represent “LIM” and the opposing party is “QAF.”
  • 410.001.CLA.YTU: As above, except that you have assigned the “410” series to this client (“CLA”) with recurring matters.
  • 410.002.CLA.RGB: Your second matter from client “CLA.”

Once you have decided on a naming structure, keep that naming structure throughout the life of your project or matter. If a prospect (100 series) becomes a client, simply open a new active matter using the 200, 300, or 400 series, depending on whether the work will be billed on a contingency, hourly, or flat-fee basis. Once you have completed the matter, you can move the matter from “Active” to “Inactive” (in Gmail, unnest the matter from “Active” to “Inactive”; in Google Drive, move the matter from your “Active” Shared Drive to your “Inactive” Shared Drive; in Google Calendar, stop displaying or hide the calendar, as more fully explained below). Work off a spreadsheet or text file so that you can keep a record of your naming structure and easily copy/paste your names for the next steps.

Setting Up Gmail

Create Gmail labels for each of your matters. You should further organize these labels by nesting them under general labels such as “Administration,” “Prospects,” “Active,” and “Inactive,” depending on the matter’s status. The power of Gmail that is not available in other email clients is that you can add as many labels to your messages as needed, and they will stay in your inbox until you archive them. This means that you can create additional labels such as “#ToDo,” “#FollowUp,” and “#Call,” nest them under a label called “#Tasks” (including a hashtag at the beginning will force the labels to the top of the list), and leave them in your inbox until action is no longer required, without losing them to a particular folder. This also means you can view all messages with one label, whether the messages are in your inbox or archived.

Setting Up Google Drive

Follow the structure of your Gmail labels when setting up your folders in Google Drive. Create one Shared Drive called “Administration,” another called “Prospects,” another called “Active,” and finally one called “Inactive” (just like your nested Gmail labels). Once you have these folders created in your Shared Drives, create sub-folders based on the nature of the files. You can use “Client” (for all privileged communications with your client), “Non-Client” (for all non-privileged external communications), “Court” (or case number), and “Workspace” (for all work-product-related materials, notes, drafts, legal research, etc.), with additional subfolders as needed. It’s also good practice to prefix the name of each file exchanged with a date certain (i.e., “2022_09_01_[FileName]”), as files stored in the cloud can adopt different metadata dates when modified, copied, or downloaded.

Setting Up Google Calendar

Finally, create a calendar for each of your “Active” matters and others for “Administration” and “Prospects.” Google Calendar does not have nesting capabilities like Gmail Labels and Google Drive folders, so use the alphanumeric names you have selected for each of your discrete projects. For example, you probably can have only one calendar called “Administration” (as opposed to “000.100.ADM.COR”), but you should definitely dedicate individual calendars for all your active projects (e.g., “400.001.LIM.QAF”). As expressed above, once you have completed an active project, stop displaying or hide the calendar from view.

Create your timed events in each calendar and color-code them if you like. As you will be using Google Calendar to keep track of all your tasks, create “All Day” events for your deadlines and milestones. If you would like to receive a notification of this event, create an email notification for the date on which you would like the event to pop up in your Gmail inbox. Setting up an email notification in your event is crucial if you wish to keep track of any given event, as you will see shortly.

Pulling It All Together: Using Your System

Open Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google Drive in three separate tabs on your browser. After you’ve checked your calendar for upcoming events and deadlines, process your Gmail inbox. Check your unread emails. Click the checkbox next to any email you want to delete, then click the trash can icon at the top of the list. Label your emails by matter and task. Save important dates and attachments to your Google Calendar and Google Drive (Gmail has handy “Create Event” and “Add to Drive” features). If no further action is required for that message, archive the email to remove it from your inbox. Ideally, your inbox should contain only actionable items and reminders from your Google Calendar that require your attention.

One area where Google Workspace lags is in its ability to keep track of deadlines by project. Google’s task management solution, Google Tasks, is cumbersome for managing your practice, as it does not tie into Google Calendars, and if you organize your matters by Lists as Google Tasks allows, there is no way to see the tasks you should be working on in one pane. Using Google Calendar alone for task management is not effective, as there is no easy way to keep track of overdue or upcoming tasks requiring your attention. Google Calendar in conjunction with Gmail, however, provides a working solution.

The secret is that when you create an event (and corresponding email notification) in Google Calendar, treat your email notification date as a “start date.” If you would like to be notified of an event two weeks before its due date, simply set the email notification for two weeks (14 days) before the due date, and Google Calendar will send a notification directly to your Gmail inbox, reminding you of the event. Label your message by matter and task (or, better yet, create a rule in Gmail to automatically label your Google Calendar notifications), and keep the notification message in your inbox until completed.

When you close out a matter, simply move the matters’ label nested under the “Active” label to the “Inactive” label in Gmail, and do the same with the folder you created in the “Active” Shared Drive of Google Drive—move it to your “Inactive” Shared Drive. As to the matters’ calendar, you can either delete it, stop displaying it, or hide it from your view in Google Calendar.


And there you have it, a minimal yet functional way to manage your practice using three simple (and powerful) tools available from Google Workspace without any other software or app.