I’ve read a lot of time management books, so when Time Management for Attorneys: A Lawyer’s Guide to Decreasing Stress, Eliminating Interruptions & Getting Home on Time by Mark Powers and Shawn McNalis appeared on my desk, my eyes began to glaze over. But reading books like this and reporting on them is my job, and it sure beats actually working for a living, so I dove in and by the end of the introduction I was hooked. This is probably the best time management book – especially for lawyers – that I’ve ever read. And I consider it a must-read for anyone who is struggling with an out of control practice and wants to bring some sanity and enjoyment back to their work, and their life.
The authors’ central idea is that, ideally, lawyers manage their time proactively – setting and meeting their own priorities – leading to increased career satisfaction and financial success, but that many lawyers become stuck in a reactive style of time management as they respond to client and other crises, living off adrenaline bursts and giving up on being in control of their careers and their time. They provide a short checklist to help you determine whether you operate in reactive style, and posit that this is usually caused by a real, or perceived, shortage of time, money, or energy (which can include lack of adequate staff to delegate to). They then set out a list of potential short-term solutions to each of these problems and, in the chapters that follow, give guidance to help lawyers transition to a more effective way of managing time.
In short, easy-to-read chapters, Powers and McNalis guide you through the process of determining what you really want from the practice of law and help you set up a series of easily-achievable steps to get there. There’s information on how to screen for and select clients who will help you reach your professional goals, how to utilize a “time template” and teach your staff to help you avoid interruptions and make better use of your time, and how to “systemize” your work to eliminate crisis situations. You’ll also find resources to improve your delegation skills and determine the causes of and eliminate most interruptions. The final chapter will show you how you can even plan to take a two week vacation without adverse affects on your practice.
Time Management for Attorneys: A Lawyer’s Guide to Decreasing Stress, Eliminating Interruptions & Getting Home on Time is available through the Practice Management Assistance Program Check-out Library or you can purchase your own copy from Atticus Online for $79.95. When you consider the sage advice it contains, and the sample forms and checklists for systemizing your practice, it’s well worth the price.