Back in March, when I attended ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago, I left my keys in a desk drawer in my room at the Hilton. Needless to say, when I arrived at the park-and-ride lot at the airport in Atlanta and had no car keys – with darkness falling and a three hour drive back to Montgomery ahead of me – I was pretty put out at myself, to put it politely. I’m sure glad I wasn’t on hidden camera as I emptied my bags out, one by one, on the pavement behind the car and slowly became convinced that those keys really, really, weren’t there!
I normally run through a mental check list whenever I leave a hotel room for the final time, which includes a quick peek in all drawers and the closet, to make sure that I’m not leaving anything – particularly anything supremely important – behind. But that day I was running late, things were hectic, there were lots of people to say goodbye to, and I just failed to do what common sense dictates should be done. Like make sure my keys were tucked away in my laptop bag where they should have been.
Practicing law is the same way. Things get hectic and tasks – even simple ones that should be second nature for the seasoned practitioner – fall through the proverbial cracks. This incident made me think about a book I’d recently heard a lot about, The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Done Right by Atul Gawande, and prompted me to buy and read it, with the end result being an article called Improving Your Performance with Checklists which I wrote for Law Practice.
The July August issue of Law Practice, on risk management in the law firm, is available online now, and is definitely worth a look, with great articles on avoiding the greatest malpractice claims risks, special conflict of interest dangers, and preventing check fraud, a problem more and more lawyers are having to contend with these days.
You don’t have to be an ABA LPM Section member to read the magazine online, but after you do you’ll want your own copy of the next issue delivered right to your mailbox.