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Jan Copley
Certified Practice Advisor
Atticus, Inc.

530 South Lake Avenue, Suite 250
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More About Checklists

November 9, 2011

Filed under: Practice Management,Processes — @ 7:13 pm

In my previous two blog postings, I’ve ruminated about checklists, processes and lists and how they can be useful to our practices. However, I’m not sure I talked about three more ways checklists can be helpful tools for practicing law, so I’m going to do it here.

I used to be skeptical of using checklists — I thought it would take too much time to create them. But, I changed my mind once I found myself reinventing the wheel over and over again. And, when I did implement the use of checklists in my office, I discovered three additional benefits they can provide, as tools to (1) increase efficiency, (2) delegate work, and (3) train my team.

Checklists and efficiency.
We create checklists to make sure that we don’t forget something. Since I found practicing law to involve juggling lots of little pieces, checklists were especially important to make sure I didn’t drop something. One nice side effect, however, was that checklists made me more efficient. Especially when I was working on a project I didn’t usually handle on a day-to-day basis. Having a written checklist meant I didn’t spend my time trying to figure out what I had to do next! The checklist enabled me to finish a project more quickly and with confidence that I hadn’t missed something.

Checklists and delegation. If you’ve got a really good checklist, it can increase your efficiency — to the point that you don’t have to do the work. What a concept! The idea is that the checklist will be clear enough so someone else can follow it and take care of the project. All you, as the lawyer, have to do is oversee the work. That means you can use your time at its highest and best level: marketing, meeting with clients, and true attorney work.

Checklists and training.
One of the recurring themes I encounter as a law practice management coach is my clients’ agony over staffing decisions. If we have an employee who is not performing well, we may be reluctant to let him/her go because we then have to go through the hassle of training someone new. I’ve certainly been guilty of this thinking. But consider this: if you have written checklists and procedures, won’t that make training someone new easier? You can walk your new person through a procedure once, and then he or she can consult the written checklist in the future without having to interrupt you. The checklist will also provide the new team member with confidence because he or she has a resource to consult.

Please let me know how this helps you!

2 Responses to “More About Checklists”

  1. Neel Shah says:

    Thank you for this series on processes and checklists, Jan. I’ve found them to be enjoyable to read and actionable to incorporate.

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