Monday, February 25, 2013

Billing Debacle

Billing: a Never Ending Problem

One of my least favorite things to do as a lawyer is billing.  It is a simple task, but it is tedious and takes forever.  It is never ending and can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t stay on top of it, which I rarely do.  I am very good at keeping detailed notes of what I do on a day to day basis, but unfortunately I am very bad at imputing my daily tasks into my billing software which means I’m always behind.  Our firm handles most clients on a flat fee basis so it does not affect our bottom line, but it is still important to have current and correct records.

In the beginning, it would have been easy to stay on top of the billing.  But also, everything is a learning experience in the beginning.  So, of course I can look back and ask, “what if?”, but the truth of the matter is that I didn’t do it then compounded the problem now.  I am behind because I’m always playing catch up. 

As a part of my 2013 job related goals, I am going to get caught up on billing by implementing a daily chunk of my time to billing and hopefully as the year goes by I will catch up.  I plan to bill at least one client per day, which means that I should bill each client approximately every two months which will be a giant step up from last year.

With this attainable goal, I will be able to get rid of the looming billing cloud, which drags me down.  Like anything else looming over your head, the longer you leave it unattended the bigger the problem will become.  If I've learned anything in the past, you DO NOT want to push those “problems” aside because they do not go anywhere – they just get bigger and much harder to deal with. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Begin with the End in Mind

            I love broad, long-term perspectives! I love grand ideas of love and justice. I love talking about them, mulling them over on a solitary walk at dusk, and debating ideas while drinking herbal tea with an intellectual counterpart. But honestly, it’s a little more difficult to make small daily choices that reflect my personal morals and values. I am not sure how often, I actually ask myself if what I am about to say to the dry cleaning lady is in line with my values and what I want people to remember about me when I am gone.[1]

            The exercise that Covey asked me to do at the beginning of Chapter two, in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, required some deep thinking.  He asked me to really consider what I wanted to be remembered for at my funeral in four separate categories, my family, my friends, my career, and my service. I found a couple of hours and a quiet couch and typed my heart out.

            From there, Covey said that we can create mission and vision statements that really reflect where we are going and what we want. So, beginning with the end in mind made a lot more sense after I had contemplated what I want to be remembered for. I found themes in all four categories. I realized that I wanted some of categories to at least partially overlap. For instance, I want service to be a huge, if not complete part of my career as an attorney. I also realized some areas in which I am better operating out of my set of values than others. For instance, I don’t always respond in love when I am dealing with teenagers (or 7 year olds, for that matter) who forget to do their chores after I have a hard day at the office.

            What excited me about this exercise is that I got to define what success is to me, not what society says it is or my parents or my 11 year old or 13 year old. Pretty sure for my kids, it is the ability for us to shop weekly at the mall for new clothes and drive through in and out four times a week.

            I won’t bore you with what my definition of success is or what I want to be remembered for. I hope if you know me, you already have an inkling based on our relationship. However, I do want to encourage you to sit down and think about what you would like said at your funeral, then work backwards from there and join me on the journey of beginning with the end in mind. It’s never too late.

-Julianne Vandegrift, Associate Attorney

[1] Caveat-my dry cleaning lady and I have a really good relationship and thus far, I have nothing egregious to report.