“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” We have all heard the saying, but what does it mean in an office environment?


I have learned over the years that when you say the words “get organized”, different people will hear different things.  One person may think “communication”, another person may think “spatial order” and another may think “time management.”  Actually they are all correct; I will give you some Keys to remember when planning the systems in your law office.


Lee’s Keys #1 Design your Waterfront Property© for Maximum Use


How many of you have Waterfront Property©? Actually, anyone who works in an office has it! It’s a term I coined to describe the space around your desk or credenza – or the area where you do most of your work. 


When you sit in your chair, hold your arms out to your side and turn in a circle, this area is considered your Waterfront Property©.  It’s the most valuable piece of property in your office because it is where your most important work is done.


One of the main complaints I hear about a person’s Waterfront Property is “what do I do with all this stuff”?  We tend to keep lots of “stuff” around us in our Waterfront Property area especially if we are visual people.  And we tend to keep this Waterfront Property “stuff” in piles, rather than in files.  


Someone with lots of piles is creating what I call “horizontal filing”. These people have difficulty finding information quickly because most of it is paper based. If a matter or case is not closed, then we tend to keep the information in paper form, and most of the time it’s filed horizontally rather than vertically.  This creates a pile that must be lifted and moved every time information is needed.  This equals more time wasted.


Many law practices wait until the case is closed before they consider the ways they keep the information. Remember that information in a combination of paper, electronic, and scanned documents is often a good way to handle a case or a legal matter.


Always send the closed case hard copy information to an AAA Certified records management center rather than using a mini warehouse unit, or closet, or attic of the building you are in. The difference in these options is dramatic and failure to manage and store your records properly could have serious consequences.


When horizontal filing is the organizing problem, I teach people Lee’s Key #2.

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