Archive for the ‘Law Office Management Tips’ Category

You might have heard the story about the garage mechanic’s sign:

“Folks want their work done, cheap, good and quick.  They can’t have all three.  If you want your work done quick and cheap, don’t expect it to be good.  If you want your work done quick and good, it ain’t gonna be cheap.  If you want it done good and cheap, then don’t expect it to be quick.”

Those trade-offs apply in a lot of work, perhaps including the work you do for your clients.  They certainly apply with a lot of software development work, and we constantly have to remember that “good” has to take priority over “quick” and “cheap”.

There is a similar notion, when it comes to the quality of software.  We call it the “Software Feature Triangle”.  This is what that triangle looks like:

The Feature Triangle

The Feature Triangle

When you are looking for software (especially, custom software, or software for a vertical market like the legal market), you have to make some choices, and you might have to compromise your expectations.  Most software developers will strive for a reasonable price (so they can sell more software), a simple interface (to reduce their support commitments to users), and a significant amount of power (to give their users a tool that will increase productivity).  Just as the garage mechanic can’t settle for “good, cheap and quick”, software developers have to find an acceptable point between the three quality criteria.  As power and simplicity increase, there will be more development time required, and therefore a higher price.  The “sweet spot” is somewhere in the interior of the triangle, but for LawStream development, it will be closer to the “power and simplicity side”, rather than close to the “price corner”.

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It’s so easy to get into the habit of entering a quick “point 2” as a record of the service you’re doing for a client.  It’s also very easy to lose track of the time it takes to do the work, and then quickly go on to another task after you’ve done that work.  Unfortunately, you may find that you have recorded twelve minutes (or whatever time you entered), without realizing that the work took a very different amount of time.

When you start an activity for a client, make note of the time (on a yellow-sticky, in your mind, or in your timekeeping software).  Open a “notes file” or similar entry for the activity, if you want.  Then, do the work (making more notes, if you wish).  After that, record the time.  By recording your time accurately, you will not only be creating a basis for a fair fee for your client: you will also be creating information that could eventually let you know how productive you are, in the different types of work you do.

LawStream users: You can make note of when you have started to work on a file, by double-clicking the line item for that file in the list of current files.  As you move back and forth between files, you can turn-off the timer for that file.  Once you’re done, you can ente a time record that will reflect the total amount of time you have spent on the file for the day.  Note, too, that you can enter control-click (OS X) or right-click (Windows) on any item in your list of time for the day, to have LawStream select an item that will let you update the time spent on that activity, or add notes for the activity.

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