These litigation lawyers confessed that they spend an average of 10 hours every week repeating work they’ve already billed for (and can’t bill for again). At the current average billing rate of $230 per hour for litigation lawyers (per the Legal Trends Report), that’s about $115,000 in billing wasted annually—not to mention the stress and frustration of unproductive time.
Additionally, these same litigation lawyers said that the majority of their case-related and yet unbillable time is related to research, email, and document organization. According to the Factbox survey, this worked out to about 77% of the unbillable time reported).
Here are a few more specific examples of where that time goes, based on responses received in the survey:
- “Wasting time looking for the same thing over and over”
- “Organizing case materials”
- “Integrating information from many sources into one place”
- “Finding files”
- “Organizing documents and files when working on multiple cases in the same day”
No one wants to waste valuable time. So why do these things happen? Usually it’s because you’re in a hurry, or you don’t think your team will need to do the work again, or because you’re not sure the case will advance. All valid reasons.
However, what if you could keep track of all the facts and evidence in every case without spending an extra minute the first time around? It’s easier than you think.
Here’s how to do it:
Take Notes the First Time
Often when you first look at a document, a relevant website, or an email, you’re thinking, “Wow this is interesting. I’ll have to remember that for my case.” And you probably do remember sometimes … but not all of the time.
This is where using note-taking tools can help.
With the click of a button, products like FactBox, OneNote or Evernote will pop-up and give you a place to copy and paste an important fact or take a note. This is a great alternative to commenting on PDFs or copying your thoughts onto multiple sticky notes, as these tools let you tag and organize your notes for later use.
Additionally, if you use Chrome, these products all have Chrome extensions that let you take notes right your browser. Here’s a link to FactBox’s Chrome extension.
Taking a simple step like this at the beginning of your research process means you’ll save time later on.
Re-organize as You Work
Think about the early, early stage of a case, when you’re pretty sure the fact, idea, or note you jot down is going to be worthwhile, but you haven’t thought about the organization or hierarchy of your research yet. Whatever system of organization you use must be flexible enough to evolve with you and the case. Who doesn’t know the frustration of putting documents into folders like ‘regulatory communication’ or ‘client documents’ that make sense at the beginning of the case, only to find these categories completely useless later on.
Having a very flexible organization structure for your cases is crucial. This is another area where specific tools can help. For example, Factbox lets you edit the names of issues, or topics within a case. You can also create sub-issues and sub-sub issues, and then drag and drop these issues to reorder the heirarchy of information in your case.
Whatever you choose to do, track your research from the beginning, and use a structure that lets you easily reorganize your thinking as you go.
Save time—save money
It seem like a hassle when you’re working hard with a large caseload, but the numbers don’t lie: Staying organized will save your firm time and money. Whether you use tools like Factbox, OneNote, or Evernote, or whether you use another system to keep your research in one place, taking steps to record everything you do the first time around will help guard against the problem of duplicating work later on.