Zen & The Art of Case Management
Declutter your case management — and build a better law practice
You move aside your cold mug of coffee to make room for your new cup of tea, using as a coaster a stack of case file folders which sprawl over last month’s law review issue. Post-it notes bristle from every available bare space reminding you which clients urgently await your call — and here comes your mail to be opened, or to perch on the last bare corner of your desk until a wrong move sends the pile fluttering to the floor.
We’ve all been there. Our messy desk is proof of hard work. A sign of our creativity. Great ideas in the making.
But our precious mess is expensive. And I don’t just mean the cost of washing the carpet.
Research at Harvard found that a messy workspace makes you “less efficient, less persistent, and more frustrated and weary” than you’d be in a tidier space.
Those who live amid mess also tend towards a worse immune system, more stress, and compulsive behavior such as overeating and impulse buys.
Clutter saps our mental resources, researchers say. It erodes our sense of personal control, and our work suffers because of it.
Cleaning up your workspace can set you on track to greater focus and work that is higher-quality and more meaningful. But decluttering should go beyond maintaining a tidy desk. There are more important ways to bring peace, calm, and simplicity to your workspace.
For starters, you could think about decluttering your case management system.
How to keep all your information in one place
In a paper-based practice, it’s a nightmare if the contents of one case file are spread around your office. But an analogous problem can exist even in digital practices.
Perhaps you have some case documents sent as attachments in an email, some saved onto your computer, others on your paralegal’s computer, a few shared in Dropbox while others are Google Docs, and then there’s that piece of snail mail we got last week. In the meantime, your client has been texting your paralegal’s cell with some other important case details.
This is clutter. It leads not only to anxiety, but missed deadlines and lower case values as well.
How can you declutter case management? You need a system robust enough to include all case information in one accessible place.
And with modern technological development, that’s finally possible. A cloud-based case management system like Filevine can funnel all of your data into one case file. Here are some examples of what this can look like:
- Store all your documents in their case file. Use Edit-in-Place to make changes — without the risk that someone will fail to properly upload the new version.
- Receive and send texts (including photographs) directly from the case file.
- Receive and archive emails in the case file.
- Scan and upload relevant paper documents and mail.
- Schedule every deadline, event, and appointment pertaining to the case
- Include every note, deadline, task regarding the case, keeping the entire legal team up to date.
No more sorting through apps or struggling to remember where you saw that one message. With an all-in-one case management system, you always know where to find your information.
Filevine has grown even cleaner, sleeker, and smarter.
Filevine is undergoing a series of updates we call Filevine Flex. In our first installment, we’re simplifying your visual display. It will now show only relevant information to keep the visual layout of a project as tidy as possible.
This update gives your case management system greater flexibility, too. It makes sure each file adjusts to the specifics of a case as the matter progresses. You can build out a project in any direction the case might go in, without any excess clutter.
For example, personal injury attorneys will typically have a Meds Section for their cases. Information and tasks in this section are part of a Treating phase, as the client goes through their medical treatment. But if they take on a case that doesn’t include bodily injury, there’s no reason for this section or this phase. They’re clutter. You should have the ability to clear them out.
With Filevine Flex, irrelevant section and phases disappear. If they become applicable later on, they can become visible again. You retain full control over which section can be added or removed, and which ones you want visible for each project.
And it’s that control that ultimately creates the alternative to clutter. The reason mess affects us, the researchers write, is because it makes us feel a little bit helpless. We fear that we can’t tame the chaos around us. And that helplessness makes us give up more easily on difficult work.
With the right case management system, you can regain control of your cases — and retain the confidence and clarity you need for even your most chaotic days.