In the good old days of few fixed fees and many billable
hours, firms had little reason to care if lawyers were inefficient, as long as
they billed their 1800 or 2000 or 2200 hours per year. If they might have found a way of doing
something faster… well, why would they even try if they were being paid by the
But all that has changed in the “new normal.” When clients demand efficiency, all of a
sudden personal time management matters.
When we first designed our project management coaching,
and the Certified Legal Project Manager® program, we felt that this would be a
very important topic for some lawyers.
So we not only included a section on this topic in my Legal Project Management Quick Reference
Guide, we also identified supplementary readings for lawyers who were
Several years ago, when we searched Amazon for “time management
books,” we came up with hundreds of options.
We did not read them all, but we did buy quite a few of the top ones to
see which we thought would be most useful to lawyers. A separate Amazon search on “time management
books for lawyers” came up with a much smaller number. But when we looked at the top sellers, we
were not impressed. We ended up picking
a book written for a general audience for our coaching and certification: The 25 best time management tools and
techniques by Pamela Dodd and Doug Sundheim.
The book is very easy to use quickly, because each of the 25
techniques is described in a separate chapter such as “minimize interruptions,”
“delegate more/better,” and “hold better meetings.” When lawyers in our coaching program express
a special interest in improving personal time management, we buy them a copy of
this book, tell them to scan the chapter titles for topics that could help them
personally, and then come up with practical and immediate steps to improve one
thing at a time.
But many lawyers prefer books written specifically for
lawyers, so we’ve been keeping our eyes open for new books. When I heard a few months ago that Gary
Richards, one of our principals, was writing a new book called the Time Management Handbook for Lawyers,
I couldn’t wait to see it.
Well, Gary’s book just came out, and since I work with him
every day, of course I will understand if you think my review may be a bit biased. But I can say in all honesty that Gary’s book
is the best legal time management book that I’ve seen. His subtitle says it all: “How-to tactics that really work.”
I especially liked the practical tools in the appendices,
including “how to take and analyze a time log,” “the top 40 most common time
barriers,” “typical complaints of associates and staff about how partners
delegate,” and examples of a new client information letter and requirements for
Some of the material overlaps with concepts covered in my Legal Project Management Quick Reference
Guide including chapters on meetings, delegation, and client communication. (To see Of Counsel’s review
of the Guide, published yesterday,
click here.) Gary and I took slightly different approaches
in some cases, and have different writing styles. But who knows, maybe you’ll like his more
If you need to improve your personal time management, would
you benefit more from a book specifically written for lawyers or from one of
the many written for a more general audience? The answer depends on you.
In the future, when we offer selected lawyers in our
coaching program a free book on time management, we will give them two
choices: the Dodd book if they
want a quick high level overview of common techniques or Gary’s book if
they want a more detailed discussion of time management techniques specifically
for lawyers. If they want both, we will
If you need help on time management, and are not sure which
book sounds better, you might as well buy both.
The total cost of the two books on Amazon is just $24.40, so it’s hard
to go wrong. The first time you are able
to bill just one more hour based on your reading, you will already be way ahead
of the game.