You may have heard a saying used by the Navy Seals: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Maybe you’ve used this mantra when you’re doing projects around the house to remind yourself to take your time and work correctly instead of rushing and making mistakes. But have you ever wondered how this concept could apply to your legal practice?
When you slow down and take a step back from your work, you can see where you’re not working smoothly and notice those inefficiencies and headaches that you’ve grown accustomed to tolerating. But, unfortunately, managing information is an area where most lawyers aren’t doing things smoothly or quickly—and despite countless repetitions, they’re not doing it any better the hundredth or thousandth time than they did the first or fifth.
See if this doesn’t sound familiar.
How Lawyers Typically Manage Information
Lawyers collect vast quantities of information, but they disperse it across numerous modalities and platforms. For example, you might get a client intake form through email, follow it up with some handwritten notes from an initial phone call, create a digital file on your computer, and set up a physical file folder with information about the case. In addition, you are storing your previous research and legal arguments in other “buckets”—as documents on your local drives, in a cloud storage platform, as printed case law or research files, or as bookmarks in your web browser.
But there’s no connection between any of those buckets, and there’s no single source of truth that you can turn to when you need to recollect a piece of information. Each time you need to draft a pleading, memo, or letter, you must painstakingly gather information from multiple buckets. You often don’t remember which bucket to search, and you get distracted, anxious, and frustrated as you switch from one bucket to another. Plus, you may find that you lose track of what quote or fact came from where, so you have to go back and re-source information.
With this traditional approach, your management of information doesn’t get any better over time; it’s the same struggle with every project you handle. But there’s a way to streamline this process, and it doesn’t require a new workflow—just a new tool.
Improving Information Management Leads to Smooth Recall
The way to smooth out your workflow is to set up a system to manage that information effectively. Yes, this might feel slow at first. Even though you’re doing the same tasks as always, using a new tool to gather and store information can feel awkward. But there are truly no further steps in the process here: you’re just putting all of the information you collect in one central location.
When all of your information about a piece of work is in one bucket, you’ll start to realize the advantages of a smooth recall of information. Now, when you need a fact or a detail, you’ll know exactly where it is. You’ll see your whole process start to speed up. But this isn’t the end of the information road.
Smooth Recall Leads to a Fast Workflow—That Gets Faster Every Time
The true magic happens after you’ve been managing your information with one central source for long enough to build up a critical mass. At that point, you realize that you have every fact and detail about a piece of work in one place. Likewise, you have every note, draft, email, argument, quote, citation, and legal authority compiled in that same location. Now, your ability to smoothly recall information translates into a fast, easy workflow—one that gets smoother and faster the more you use it.
Cognito has the tool to make your Knowledge InFormation life easier. Our legal workflow software doesn’t just address one aspect of your workflow; it sits on top of the workflow you already have and organizes information as you collect, generate, and apply it. For example, Cognito lets you store text-based information from emails, documents, notes, client intake forms, contact lists, research files, and more, all in an intuitive, seamless online platform. It then surfaces those details where you need them, when you need them, creating what we call Knowledge InFormation—an organized, central store of knowledge about your clients, cases, legal arguments, and precedents. Contact us to learn how to simplify your legal workflow with Cognito and get a free 30-day trial.