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Attorney Time Management: Managing Deadlines as a Civil Litigator

As someone who felt decently organized through law school, I got a pretty rude awakening when I became an actual attorney. The sheer number of active cases, deadlines, and all the work that went into hitting case deadlines threw me for a loop. While I looked like I had it together on the outside, inside, I felt stretched too thin and constantly anxious I’d drop a ball. Why didn’t someone teach us how to manage my time, tasks, and deadlines in law school?!

Over time, I figured out a system that really reduced my stress and last-minute scrambles and now works for my attorney clients. Let’s dig in.

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I’m Kelly Nolan.
I'm an attorney who'd been decently organized through law school but got quickly overwhelmed as a actual attorney. After nothing else worked for me, I created this system – and kept on practicing law. Years later, I found out others were interested in learning it, so that's what I do now! Let's get this realistic system in your hands so you can start living a life that feels more calm, doable, and that lights you up.
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What if you could skip all those emails back and forth trying to find a time for a phone call/Zoom meeting? If you love those emails as much as I do (i.e., not much), have you checked out a meeting-booking software?

When I joined the entrepreneur world, I got introduced to Acuity and Calendly, and my first thought was, “WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I WAS PRACTICING LAW?” And since more and more of my professional clients are turning to them, I want to make sure you know about them, too.

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Do you have to deal with CLEs, CMEs, or other continuing education requirements?

As I listened to one last night and logged it into my little CLE tracker spreadsheet, I realized I’m just two credits shy of meeting my requirements for this CLE period – and they aren’t due until January. This was one of those moments where I felt super grateful to Past Me for setting up Future Me to get something done without the last-minute scramble.

I just created a game plan to get it done over time – and voila! You can, too.

Here’re my tips for making CLE/CME/CE-compliance as painless as possible.

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Likely because there was no “how to stay organized during the day-to-day grind” class in law school, many attorneys suffer from disorganized case files.

This means lots of last-minute scrambles to meet deadlines, twinges of mild panic when a client calls to request information that we can’t find quickly, and – most importantly – a lack of mental clarity regarding litigation strategy and status.

That used to describe me. As a new attorney straight out of law school at a big law firm in Boston, I had no idea how to keep my case files organized and important information accessible (in any one case, much less the numerous ones I had on my plate).

Over time, through experimentation, observation of some impressively organized attorneys, and research, I figured out systems to help me keep important documents handy, discovery and electronic files under control, and deadlines met without undue stress or scramble.

Given the lack of information on this front for new attorneys (and experienced attorneys, for that matter), I wanted to pass along my system in case it’s helpful to you.

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check out my 8-week bright method time management program

Want to learn the full Bright Method, a system designed for working women that reduces stress and ups your peace of mind when it comes to managing it all (personal and professional)?

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Realistic time management designed for professional working women

I'm a former big law attorney who got overwhelmed as a first year and slowly pieced together a time/task management system that actually reduced my stressed, helped me stay on top of it all (and know it), feel confident drawing boundaries, and soak in time with my family and friends. I'd love to get you there, too.

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