Posts Tagged ‘organization’

Improving the Dog and Pony Show

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

In The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional I state that when it comes to a trial “the best dog and pony show wins” meaning that often it is the best prepared case that wins, not necessarily the best case. The best prepared case is not simply the case with the most information, but the case in which that information is organized and set for presentation to the jury in a way the jury can understand it. Today’s post “Show Me the Money!” from Judge Primeaux on his blog illustrates this point as it applies to any factfinder, including those wearing a black robe:

As a judge I can tell you it’s hard to capture every detail in my trial notes. Sometimes the witness just speaks so fast  that I stay three sentences behind, trying to catch up, and just can’t get it all. Sometimes the significance isn’t clear until much later in the trial or even when the judge is writing the opinion, and then it’s too late.  Sometimes a verbose witness will bury the critical info under an avalanche of mostly meaningless words.

Next time you have an equitable distribution case, why don’t you sit down with your client during your trial preparation and work up a spreadsheet that shows how she wants the marital estate divided. 

The post includes other suggestions and the questions necessary to lay a foundation. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the role of this kind of preparation is for a successful trial and the importance of the paralegal’s role is in preparing a well-done trial notebook. For more on this see Judge Primeaux’s blog and Chapter 7 of The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional.

An Effective and Efficient Suggestion

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

I am a hugh fan of organizational techniques that serve mutliple purposes. As regular readers know, The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional focuses in large part on the ability to manage time, work, workspace, and calendar effectively and efficiently. Every now and then I run across someone with a manner of handling a task that I find well worth adding to the tool box. Here’s one that not only serves the organization function, but the function of creating a log in the event the paralegal is attacked by a vampire.

It is taken with permission from a post by Bob Sweat on the Paralegal Today listserv forum. Bob informs me he does a fair amount of writing for paralegal newsletters, CLE webinars & seminars and the like. Keep an eye out for his work.

I keep a 9.5 x 6 college ruled, spiral bound notebook by the phone with a pen always laying on it. I draw a line down the page about 1 in from the left margin (if there isn’t a preprinted one there). Each day I make an entry for the day to the left of the line and the date to the right of the line and underline it. For ex: M | 08/30/10.

When the receptionist says Mary Smith is on the line two – before I pick up the phone – on the first open line under the day and date I look at the time and while picking up the call I write 9:15 Mary Smith XYZ firm, then make notes of whatever the conversation entails. If I am to do something that I am not able to do at the time of the call, I put a box out to the left of the line and go back to what I was doing or on to the next call. When I get a chance to do the task, I then put a check mark in the box.

M | 08/30/10
9:15 Mary Smith, XYZ Firm, provide pricing for scanning, OCR and creating Dii for Summation for 5 boxes of documents and estimate the cost for converting a CD of PDFs to TIF. Needs by mid afternoon.

9:37 Jane Jones, ABC, Send brochures and pricing list for services. No Hurry.

10:03 Bob Wesson, BBB Lawfirm, send a copy of production CD to CCC Lawfirm, Rush.

In that way, I have the daily conversations one after another, never have to transfer anything from a post note or paper scrap and the check marks let me know if something is completed. If there is nothing to do after the call, I will make the box and check it off just so I know that nothing needs to be done. In that way, when things are really hectic and less urgent items get left undone, it is very easy to see each day what needs to be done or at the end of the day, what needs to be done tomorrow.