Productivity

Keith Lee

It’s often incredibly difficult to let things go in today’s always on, always connected world. There is a desire to multitask and switch gears at all times.

Check Twitter, check email, review a letter. Write a couple paragraphs in brief, get phone call. While on phone, pull up Facebook. Phone call ends, check Twitter, back to brief. Another lawyer sticks head in office, wants to talk about an issue in a different case. Finish conversation, back to brief, an urgent email notification pops up. Read email, not really that urgent. Reply anyway. Couple more paragraphs into brief, calendar notification goes off. Lunch scheduled with another lawyer in 25 minutes.

What are the chances that any of the work you just produced was actually of high quality?

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The new data on Biglaw’s performance in the first half of 2013, mentioned earlier in Morning Docket, shouldn’t surprise anyone. For the first half of 2013 (January through June), when compared to the same period in 2012, gross revenue is up slightly (by 1.5 percent), average hours per lawyer are down slightly (by 2.5 percent), and expenses are up slightly (by 3.5 percent). This is a pretty typical report card in the “new normal” — up a little on this metric, down a little on that metric, and overall basically running in place.

But the survey, from Wells Fargo Private Bank’s Legal Specialty Group, did contain a few interesting tidbits — including depressing information about partner productivity….

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There is usually little justification for the decisions I make in life. Consequently, I get really excited when I find studies that support my poor choices. For example, did you hear that chocolate makes you skinnier? A new study found that “people who eat chocolate frequently have lower body mass indexes than those who eat it less often.” There was something mentioned about “moderation,” but that minor detail seems trivial. The important takeaway is that I have license to eat as many Cadbury Eggs as I want, and I will lose weight.

Continuing in that vein, I found an article that confirms my long-held views on how to succeed as a small-firm lawyer: take frequent breaks, go on vacation, nap, and wear sweatpants. Don’t believe me? Check this out….

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I almost don’t want to write about this because I know how many law firm managers and industry consultants read this site. If you are a person of any authority at an American law firm, or even if you aspire to be such a person, please stop reading this post. We’ll consider it an Above the Law honor code violation is you read any further.

Okay, for all the rest of you, we need to tell you that on the other side of the pond, they are pioneering new ways to turn a lawyer’s sense of shame and fear of failure into more money for the firm. Roll on Friday (gavel bang: Golden Practices Blog) reports that a European law firm has started utilizing computers that change color depending on how productive you are.

Seriously, what’s next? A computer that delivers an electric shock every time you log onto Facebook?

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