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In her Motion to Organize weekly column, lawyer Jennifer Gumbel talks organization, productivity, and more.

I’m a paper lawyer. When people come to see me, they’re probably at some point going to leave with a stack of documents.  When they leave, I want the documents to not just be organized, but be contained in a particular way. I want to make sure the documents will stay together, be easily found later, and convey what they are to other people who need the documents down the road. After all, estate planning documents in particular, might not be looked at again until people you’ve never met go searching through stacks of paperwork.

Litigators might not think about giving their clients a well thought out and rationally presented documents. But think how helpful it is to someone who just went through a divorce to be given an organized set of copies of all those important documents, because years after the smoke clears, they’re going to need to refer to it. How much better would they be able to do that with a clear, organized binder that stands out, than a stuffed manila envelope that blends in with everything else.

When I give documents to clients, I never use a manila envelope. I use a bright, primary color consistent with my firm’s branding. If I have more than a few, I’m using a method keep them together, while letting people see what they have, like a presentation folder or binder. As you serve your clients, don’t just think about what they need from you now. But, what they’ll need down the road. An organized set of documents that standout help do just that.

Jennifer Gumbel

Jennifer Gumbel is an estate planning and probate lawyer in Austin, Minnesota. She takes her morbid nerd-dom to another level by talking about how to organize your after life, with the website An Organized (after)Life and the podcast, An Organized (after)Life, which you can find on the website, Spreaker and ITunes. You can also find her on Instagram with pics on death organizing and small town Minnesota life at the handle @jengumbel.

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