I can admit it. I am not the most organized person on the planet. But then again, who is? In the legal field (and in life), there can be a lot piled on your plate…at one time. Sometimes you may wonder how you will accomplish all of your tasks. Well, there is a simple solution that has worked wonders for me this summer- Agile Planning Methodology (also referred to as the Agile Movement). Agile development consists of three simple steps: 1) develop the items in your queue, which can be a list of goals or ideas for implementation of your project 2) develop your release backlog (this will include the projects or steps you will focus on during your first cycle); 3) determine a sprint cycle time (e.g. two weeks into the project you will meet with your team or supervisors to review what you have completed in your release backlog and what still needs to be worked on). This third step also includes iteration, which is pretty much repeating the process (steps 1-3) until your project goals are met. One way you can manage your progress is with a visual board (can be physical) or you can manage your progress by using a virtual board. There are several free web-based project planning boards such as Trello (https://trello.com).
This summer, I have found the third phase provides the opportunity to implement necessary changes. The sprint cycle review process is really a brainstorming session of sorts. This part of the process consists of meeting with your team (or client) to discuss goals, possible barriers, and tactical solutions. As such, the weekly meetings with colleagues and supervisors have been quite insightful. For instance, we have weekly case review to discuss cases (or projects) we may be working on. We give a brief synopsis of a current case (or project) and possible strategies to achieve the client (or project) goals. We then open up the time for other legal staff to weigh in. They may bring up applicable case law, pertinent resources, and other strategies for success. This process is very useful, not only for new attorneys, but also as a general collaborative effort between experienced legal professionals. The meeting need not be three or four hours. A lot can be done during the course of an hour (depending on the size of the group and the amount of matters to be discussed). I have received immense feedback and strategies from my supervising attorneys regarding the recent Adoption CLE-certified webinar I was assigned to create. Aside from logistics and strategic planning, opportunities arise during these meetings. As such, during a recent team meeting with other interns and our supervising attorneys, I was offered an incredible opportunity to assist with a special project that will essentially provide access to vital resources which are needed for Alaskan families, low-income residents, and those with disabilities. This is exactly the type of project I am passionate about; this is why I decided to immerse myself in the legal field in the first place
Agile Movement for Life…Literally
Project management skills are not just limited to law offices or business practices. Agile Methodology can become a way of life. I have been using this process to manage my daily tasks outside of the office. Call me “old school,” but I still use a day planner, (along with Trello). I find that using a day planner, a calendar, and a web-based planner allow me to be more efficient, accountable, and plan accordingly. I even schedule “me time” on my board, because it is imperative to have a work-life balance, especially with so much knowledge about mental health being just as significant as physical health (we will delve deeper into this topic at a later time). It is imperative to take care of ourselves in “real life” in order to be productive in our “work life”. Efficient planning, prioritizing responsibilities, and brainstorming with others in your area of expertise can lead to success. It is time to be productive. It is time to embrace agility. It is time to get with the movement. The winds of change are blowing.
“Agility is the ability to adapt and respond to change…agile organizations view change as an opportunity, not a threat.“ -Jim Highsmith