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Organizational Systems for Files


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What kind of organizational systems do you use for really complicated civil litigation files? Or for litigation files in general?

I am not a naturally detail-oriented or organized person, which I realize it going to eventually become a real problem if I don't come up with a better way of managing my practice. But I feel like I'm getting to the point where my lack of organization is making me faff about more than is necessary.

I would also like to be better organized so if I get hit by a bus or something (knock on wood), someone can pick up my files without it being a total gong show.

I've asked to start working on more complex litigation at my firm. As a mid-level, I've been told that I'm expected to the "project manager". I've done that for smaller files, but never for big complicated ones where there's a series of related actions. I was at a big firm before where partners did all the project management and strategy but almost none of the drafting etc., but at my newer firm it's the reverse where associates do the project management.

I worked before law school but all my roles were extremely independent, so still trying to figure out how to work with a team...

My current system is:

  • I use BFs in my calendar for deadlines/limitation dates etc.
  • I have a giant spreadsheet with a list of my files and next steps on each one, but it's brief and really only for my own use
  • I'm blessed with an amazing assistant who does her best to keep me organized.
  • I keep notes from meetings/calls in separate Word docs on our file share system, but that's getting a bit unwieldy.

I would like a system that:

  • Sets out next steps for others working on the file
  • Keeps track of the larger strategic ideas
  • Ideally is one document or spreadsheet, that either contains all info in one place or links to the info
  • Keeps track of big and little picture tasks

Also seeking more generalized advice on how to be organized in practice and not feel like your day is being run by your inbox and constantly putting out fires.

And yes, I realize it's ridiculous to get this far in life without knowing how to be an organized adult, but here we are!

Shout out to those of you who are practicing and have kids - I'm only responsible for myself, and feel super hectic. No idea how you guys do it.

Edited by Starling
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I use Todoist, create a project for each file and add tasks to it.


I recommend also reading Getting Things Done.

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