Dotting all the “i”s
I have a songwriter friend who reports that the hardest part of writing a song is finishing it. She finds that her enthusiasm for writing means that she loves the initial burst of creative energy, but she has trouble keeping herself on task for the polishing process: When a song is nearly finished, she finds herself eager to begin a new one.
Luckily for my friend, she’s often the only person who feels her work is unfinished – everyone else just hears a great song, not a work in progress. Unfortunately for lawyers, a client matter 90 per cent completed is not good enough. Legal work is often about managing a myriad of details, many of which are very important. We at LAWPRO are reminded of this whenever we see a claim come in that is based on a lawyer failing to complete a crucial step – like ensuring that a title insurance policy is in place when a real estate deal is closed.
Do ever find yourself just missing the finish line on a file? This is a very dangerous mistake, and it’s important to take the time to correct it.
Consider scheduling a appointment (it could be with your office staff, with the client, or even just a date with yourself) to formally close every file. Use a checklist (for example, our Commercial Transactions Checklist or our Domestic Contract Matter Toolkit) to review your work and ensure that no steps have been missed; go back and review your original notes with respect to the client; and follow up to confirm the status of registrations, applications, and execution of documents. Write a reporting letter to the client and send a final bill. Not only will you feel a greater sense of accomplishment with respect to the work, but you’ll avoid “loose ends”-type claims.