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February 28, 2012 Practice Points

Time Management Is Crucial to Business

By Virginia Sierra

In "Effective Time Management: The Gift that Keeps on Giving," Michael Moore discusses several important time-management issues that are useful to solo and small-firm practitioners. Running a solo or small firm is like running any small business. Duties include managing your firm's sales, marketing, managing the budget, managing human resources, administration, maintaining leverage, and delegation. And you have to practice law. Effective time management can maximize the time you are able to practice law, which makes the most money for your business. Time management may include delegating the business tasks to an administrator or an outside resource for a price. As Moore puts it, "A lawyer's time is most effective when spent doing what they do best, practicing law."

The time it takes to practice law is, in and of itself, quite significant even without working on other business tasks. Client management is a large part of firm time management. Lawyers deal with many inexperienced clients, and, as a result, lawyers should create checklists for client intake to make the most of both your and clients' time. Checklists can streamline the collection of relevant information for conflict checks, financial due diligence, contact information, and fee agreements. Along with collecting information for yourself, you also need to address client concerns and manage expectations for the duration of their representation (in other words, the legal strategy and process, range of results, and overall cost). "Effective use of client management techniques and addressing client expectations will result in more effective use of time with each client," Moore says.

Lawyers should also have an effective plan for their career. Moore discusses five focus areas for creating success:

  • Professional Goals;
  • Personal Productivity;
  • Revenue Generation;
  • Marketing; and
  • Professional Growth.

"A more effective plan for your career means more effective use of your time," he says.

Set goals for yourself and your clients, manage those goals, and delegate what is not worth your time. Build your business on what works best for you, and spend your time being successful.

Keywords: litigation, solo practitioners, small firms, time management

Virginia Sierra is with Cohen, Kennedy, Dowd & Quigley in Phoenix, Arizona.

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