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Career 411: Learn Good Time Management Skills Now

You are all in law school, which means that you were very successful in your undergraduate studies, and had to at least have some minimal proficiencies with time management skills.   If you didn’t you wouldn’t have completed your papers on time, attended classes, or aced your exams.

However, while academia requires a certain level of awareness as to the times and dates you need to be certain places, most weeks contain an amount of routine, such that torts is always MWF from 10:00-10:50 or the SBA meeting are always the first Tuesday of the month.   While the dates of certain events such as finals, or the due date of the final memo are calendared by most students, there is still a tendency not to utilize a calendaring system while in law school, which means certain non high-priority events may get missed.

Once you become a lawyer it is your ethical obligation to represent your clients effectively and advocate for their legal best interests.  You cannot ethically represent your clients if you miss court dates, discovery deadlines, and pleading deadlines.   As you all have learned in Civil Procedure, there are certain deadlines, which if missed, could be extremely detrimental to your client, such as not filing an answer to a petition within the requisite timeframe or not answering a request for admissions.  Further, not showing up to a court appearance could cause grave harm to your client as well as to your reputation.

Because the consequences of poor time management skills are so grave, it is important that students learn now the importance of calendaring each event, regardless of how “un-important” it is so that you get in the habit and have an opportunity to find a system that works best for you.  While now, you may be able to remember the 10 deadlines in your head… once you have 100 separate open cases, it becomes much harder to remember each individual date and deadline, making a good calendaring system essential.

Out in practice, many lawyers use different practice management software such as CLIO or TimeMatters to manage their individual calendars.  But you don’t have to pay anything to adopt a system right now that will ensure you don’t miss a single deadline.  Most of you have either android cell phones or iphones which are equipped with calendars that are easy to use and can be synced with many other devices.  But if you are a bit old fashioned like me, they do still print up paper planners to work just as good.

Having access to a great system is not the end of the equation when it comes to calendaring because a calendar is only as useful as the information contained within it.  So you have to take the time to daily update your calendar to make sure that as you learn about a deadline, event or due date, that it is properly included and that you have set up some sort of alert to remind you of the event.

While this may seem like such a common sense lesson, it is one lawyers constantly struggle with.  But if you begin now, it is a problem you will hopefully never face.



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