A series of articles emphasizing practical
knowledge you can't find in practice guides
and interviews with experts who share
their techniques for effective and efficient
Articles emphasizing practical knowledge you
can't find in practice guides
Profiles of people who changed workers’
• Marjory Harris
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"How to Store It, How to Find It
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to office problems.
"It's the Net that Counts"
Law offices are rarely models of efficiency. Legal work tends to be
Even with automation, it is not like running a bakery, for example,
machines can do much of the work.. The knee jerk reaction is to hire
more staff as
the workload increases, rather than to invest in better equipment
and learning more
efficient methods. More staff means a need for more space, which means
operating costs. More cases mean more time away from the office. In
the end, your
net may decrease despite a higher gross. Years ago, when I started
general practice, an opponent in a divorce case told me, "It's
the net that counts."
When people tell me what they gross, I deduct 65-75%, the usual office
Only in small efficient practices can you reverse these figures.
I hope you get some useful ideas from this article. Even instituting
a few changes
may save a good deal of money and frustration.
The Basic Layout
Borrowing an idea from kitchen design of a work triangle connecting
equipment, I designed a space where I could swivel in my comfortable,
chair and reach printers, scanners, copier, fax machine and reference
The Cockpit: Behind the
chair are stands with fax, printers, scanners and copier,
and reference works. On the desk at the left on cantilevered shelves
are a laser
printer, notebook computer (with second monitor), phone with headset,
the left wing of the Biomorph desk are two computer towers. On the
are the ergonomic keyboard and mouse, USB tablet, the pocket computer,
pencils, etc. On the main section are the two monitors connected to
computer, the monitor for the security camera, a lamp, and a card
scanner. To my
right are two small scanners, a two-drawer cart that holds action
files, and the
conference table. Under the desk are a foot massager and trash basket.
View from the other side.
Conference Table: The conference table has a 3-drawer
cabinet under it, and a
chair for the client to sit. When there is no one visiting, the table
is covered with files
and papers I am working on. Note the audio-visual cart and wall-mounted
TV across from the table, ideal for watching surveillance videos or
"Law and Order"
as I sort and scan and label mail at night.
Bookshelves and AV Cart.
Behind the Cockpit: Stand with laser fax, stationery
and envelopes, rolling cart
for filing, color laser printer, small color printer, reference books,
Some Productivity Equipment
Biomorph Desk with Shelves and Conference Table:
Wheeled Carts and File
office-products and check on Google for best price
Dual Monitors: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/setup/learnmore/
Phone and Headset:
Panasonic 4-line phone with Parrott VXI headset to switch between
and computer (for use with voice recognition software):
Ergonomic Keyboard & Mouse:
Wacom Intuos3 4x5 USB Tablet (for
use with OneNote)
HP LaserJet and Dell Color Laser
Current favorite is Fujitsu ScanSnap S500. It is small, fast, amazing
accuracy. One-button scanning to PDF format.
Panasonic plasma TV, DVD VCR Recorder Combo
Making it Work
No amount of equipment will increase efficiency
and lower overhead if one does
not learn how to use it and set up a productive work flow. Even then,
religious adherence to the new system, it is easy to slip back into
pile up, filling the desk with post-its and pads of easy to misplace
notes and phone
numbers, unsorted stacks of unfilled papers, etc. In the next issue
we explore office
software to promote efficiency and lower overhead.
Coming In the next issue: Software for Office Productivity.