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January 30, 2009 6:50 PM

Are You Organized? Take Our Test to Find Out

Posted by Ed Shanahan

By Kelly Lynn Anders

Image001 Most people (and lawyers are people too, after all) feel more comfortable, and work more efficiently, in an office with a clean chair, a small space to lean or set personal items on, and surroundings that demonstrate control over one's workload. To mark National Organization Month (we know it's almost over; we never said we were that organized), this brief quiz offers a starting point for lawyers who may have breached the duty of care to their workspaces. At the end of the quiz, tally up your As, Bs, Cs, and Ds to determine how far you need to go to become more organized.

1.    How often do you review, sort, and purge paper and electronic files?
a.    Weekly.
b.    Monthly.
c.    Annually.
d.    I have no set time.

2.    My system of keeping track of billable hours involves:
a.    Entering my time once or twice a day.
b.    Keeping notes and entering my time a couple of times a week.
c.    Sending e-mails to my assistant to record my time.
d.    What system?

3.    I plan client development events by:
a.    Working with an event planner to select interesting activities in unique venues that will appeal to my clients.
b.    Copying what other lawyers and firms do.
c.    Assigning this task to my assistant or the marketing department at my firm.
d.    Showing up on time for whatever someone else has planned.

4.    The last time I updated my professional wardrobe was:
a.    This season. I’m not trendy, but I like to add a few small items on a regular basis to keep current.
b.    Whenever I happen to see something interesting.
c.    Whenever my spouse or significant other buys me something new to wear.
d.    I don't keep track because my appearance has nothing to do with being disorganized.

5.    I take work home:
a.    As needed.
b.    Every night.
c.    At least a few times a week.
d.    Because I can't concentrate in the office.

6.    My daily commute lasts:
a.    Less than 30 minutes, and I use the time to listen to the news.
b.    About an hour, and I use the time to make a few calls.
c.    More than one hour, and I take public transportation so that I can read.
d.    More than two hours, and I know the lyrics to every song on my iPod.

7.    Storage in my office is:
a.    Under control, but needs work.
b.    Underused because it's inconvenient.
c.    Buried under stacks of papers and files.
d.    Full of items I have not seen in years.

8.    If someone needed to find a document on my desk in my absence:
a.    They could easily locate it because files are clearly marked.
b.    They may need to search a little, but they could find it--eventually.
c.    They could find it if I told them exactly where to look.
d.    They could find it if it had a homing device.

Mostly As: Minor Misdemeanors-You do your best to keep organized, and it shows, but you may benefit from learning ways to make the process easier.

Mostly Bs: Fighting Felonious Status-You're losing the battle of keeping everything organized, and you’re aware of the need to do something about it.

Mostly Cs: Dutiful Delegator-You would like to be more organized, but you think you don’t have the time.

Mostly Ds: Guilty of Negligence-You would like to be more organized, but you think it is impossible.


Kelly Lynn Anders is associate dean for student affairs at Washburn University School of Law and the author of The Organized Lawyer (Carolina Academic Press, 2009).

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