An easy and affordable staff management tool for estate planning attorneys… Hello Trello!

An easy and affordable task management tool for estate planning attorneys… Hello Trello!

Solo and small firms can both benefit from Trello, which offers an easy and affordable solution to the “too much to do and track” problem that we all face for large as well as small projects.  What is Trello? Glad you asked.  Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes projects into boards. At a glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.  Imagine a pegboard which you can expand as large as you want horizontally, with columns of movable 3 x 5 cards each of which represents an individual list or topic to which you can, on the back side, attach an unlimited number of sticky notes, photos, attachments from other data sources, documents, emails, and a place to comment and collaborate with your legal team.  Imagine that both the columns or cards are super easy to move (by anyone in your team) so that you can see who is doing what or what has been completed and that you can see all of that at a glance.  Now imagine that you can take that pegboard anywhere you go on your smartphone or iPad, and can access it from any computer (PC or Mac) through the web. That’s Trello!  When your team completes tasks or leaves you a response, you receive one single report during the day which helps manage your email inbox and staff interruptions, avoids actual sticky notes from being left on files and lost or voice messages that you didn’t get to.  With the help of Zapier (yep, it’s an app), it can “zap” directions from one app, such as your client management software to Trello, so, for instance, if my staff opens a new matter in ActionStep, which our firm uses (which is similar to Clio) , a corresponding matter is opened in a list on Trello which I can then assign or begin to manage.   Personally, I use OmniFocus 3 (an app) to collect and organize all my thoughts into lists and then move them to Trello as I want to assign them to staff but I could do this all in Trello.  My use of OmniFocus started after I read David’s Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, which I highly recommend if you want to really begin to take control of your crazy life and make room in your head.  OmniFocus is connected to my iPhone and Apple Watch, which allows me to easily record task items remotely when I am away from my iPad or PC, which I can organize later, so I’ll stick with OmniFocus for purposes of collecting my ideas and then use Trello to delegate and monitor them, though our firm also uses ActionStep’s workflow for this purpose.

Trello is very intuitive, so getting started is easy – even for you Luddites.  There is a free version, but for lawyers that probably isn’t the way you will want to go if you are going to be using client information on your boards.  The business class version will run you about $120 per year per user and the enterprise version about $240 per user a year.  My staff picked it up very quickly and it makes assigning, reviewing and monitoring task assignments simple and effective.

If you decide to give it a try, please let me know about your experience.

About Smilie G. Rogers

Smilie is an elder law, estate planning, probate, and tax attorney at Brennan & Rogers, PLLC, with offices in York and Kennebunk, Maine. See Licensed to practice law in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire and licensed, but inactive, in Virginia. Smilie is also the founder of New England Estate Planning, see, a fledgling website with the stated purpose of sharing legal knowledge and know-how, including automated forms, with and among estate planning lawyers.
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