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Answering phone calls, balancing the books, organizing your files -- these are the sort of chores that can keep you from doing your actual job: lawyering. Administrative tasks can easily eat up a significant portion of your time, taking up a third or more of many a lawyer's day.

Indeed, administrative duties are such a burden on small firms and solo practices that lawyers rank "spending too much time on administrative tasks and not enough practicing law" as the third most significant challenge they face, according to a survey released by Thomson Reuters this summer. Thankfully, there are ways to cut down on that burden, freeing you up to do more important (and profitable) work.

You've got your paralegal organizing case files. A contract attorney is drafting some pleadings. Your legal secretary is scheduling your meetings and going through your phone calls.

But, thanks to the miracle of telecommuting, none of them are on site. So how do you know if a remote worker is actually working? How do you manage someone you can't see?

We've all been there. Someone, a partner, co-counsel, support staff, whoever, makes commitments at the onset of a project, and they never follow through. This isn't just a problem with unreliable associates or partners with conflicting priorities; it's something lawyers and law firms of all sizes experience.

You'll probably never get everyone to do everything they've committed to, 100 percent of the time. But there are some steps you can take to improve follow through. Here's how.

3 Tips for Gathering Digital Evidence

Many lawyers are still unaware of some of the basic steps behind the procurement of digital evidence. In many ways, the basics are not too different from typical civil discovery -- it's just that the medium is different (and more impermanent).

Here are some tactical considerations you should keep in mind next time you want to get your hands on your opponent's evidence. And remember, discoverable evidence is a much bigger set than admissible evidence. Make it a part of your pretrial discovery strategy to go for the jugular.

5 Pieces of Technology That Could Help You Practice Better

You're probably a fine lawyer, but if you're like most others, you could be better. What you probably don't know is that the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer could be as little as the great lawyer's ability to better utilize technology in the market-place.

Let's take a look at some bare necessities.

3 Firm Metrics You Should Be Measuring

Lawyer and professional "how to run a firm" expert Christopher T. Anderson probably gets the bulk of his living from attending and hosting talks for lawyers than he does actual lawyering, but a good number of us wouldn't have it any other way. After all, he does a lot of the heavy research lifting so we don't have to. And, according to Anderson, if law schools taught attorneys how to be more like businessmen and less like lawyers, our lives would probably be a lot easier. Gee, does that salve your wounds?

No time for self-pity! Here are a couple of metrics that lawyers should get to measuring. It's about time you get on the current bandwagon -- and get a bit more business sense, when it comes to your practice.

Don't Flip Interns, Invest in Future Lawyers

Summer is upon us and many firms have begun the hiring and on-boarding of hoards of relieved student interns. The word "intern" is not a universal one. More hoity-toity firms use the term "summer associate," though this could be regarded as an ethical no-no.

Call them whatever you want, a lot of these interns will spend their summers at the firm and leave -- never to be seen again. And this could be as much a mark of the culture of firm life as it is the quality of the students. What should employers really be doing?

Key Performance Indicator for Lawyers: Do Your Clients Like You?

Metrics are all the rage these days. Given the steady invasion of technology into our lives, it was only inevitable that metrics would impact the legal field. For example, now metrics can be used to measure you productivity (or non-productivity) at work.

Happily, lawyers offer a somewhat intangible good, so we cannot be measured quite so easily. The focus of legal metrics is, therefore, a bit more "touchy feely" than you might assume. The key performance indicators for lawyers don't simply boil down to billable hours.

You've hung your shingle. Now it's time to take it down. Whether you're retiring, moving across the country, joining another firm, or giving up on the law, you've decided to shutter your firm.

But closing a law firm isn't like shutting down any other business. You still have ethical responsibilities to take care of when closing up shop. Here's what you should do.

Law Firm Succession Planning Registry Approved in Wisconsin

Do you sometimes wonder who will take over your practice when you become incapacitated or pass away? The Wisconsin Board of Governors has addressed that problem recently by approving a succession planning registry.

As it stands, nothing mandates that lawyers within the state participate, but the working group charged with attacking the succession problem has recommended that a mandatory registry ought to be created sometime in the near future.