Woman sitting at a desk enhancing productivity by using three computer screens.

Enhancing productivity for Barristers in the context of the wider productivity slowdown

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the UK’s economic productivity has experienced a noticeable slump. This is also true of much of the world. There is a connection between these macro challenges and the everyday, micro challenges that we face.


I take a quick look at the parallel challenges in personal productivity amidst the distractions of the digital age. This is particularly the case in analysis and intellectual work. For Barristers this challenge is acute and, being self-employed for the most part, they are in the enviable position of being able to do something about enhancing productivity for themselves.


UK’s Economic Productivity Landscape

Recent articles (such as one in the Financial Times) reveal a continuing and concerning trend in the UK’s economic productivity. Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been a notable lag, especially when compared to other G7 countries. Key factors contributing to this stagnation include complacency in business practices, a lack of investment in training and development, and inefficient management, in fact, the UK ranks bottom of the G7 in these areas. There are a number of reasons for these issues. I think, however, that the small choices and challenges that individuals make on a daily basis add up to a significant drag on how much we can achieve, or, in the parlance of ONS and OECD reports, our GDP per hour.


The Challenge of Personal Productivity

Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” offers valuable insights into the personal productivity challenges faced by professionals today. Newport highlights the detrimental effects of multitasking and the constant bombardment of digital distractions. For barristers, whose work demands high levels of concentration and meticulous analysis, the ability to engage in focused, uninterrupted work sessions is essential. However, the modern digital landscape often impedes this deep work, leading to reduced efficiency and effectiveness.


Drawing Parallels

Though labour market and productivity articles are always illustrated with workers in hard hats rolling steel, manufacturing makes up only around 10% of the UK economy. A large percentage of those employees will sit at screens most of the day. As such the parallels between the UK’s macroeconomic productivity issues and the micro-level challenges faced by, for example, barristers, are quite strong, I think. The distractions from digital tools, such as emails, social media, and instant messaging, can mirror the broader issues of complacency and inefficiency in economic productivity. For those sat at desks and beholden to screens (I put my hand up here too), this often translates into a fragmented workday, where attention is constantly diverted, leading to a decrease in the quality and quantity of work output.


Practical Strategies for Barristers

To combat these challenges, barristers can adopt various deep work strategies. Setting aside dedicated hours for focused work, free from digital distractions, can significantly enhance productivity. Strategies like the monastic approach, where all sources of distraction are eliminated. Also the rhythmic approach, which involves establishing regular, scheduled periods for deep work, can be particularly effective. Turning off the internet and turning to distraction-free tools that don’t constantly ping is a way of forcing focus. Casedo, for example, has been explicitly designed with this in mind, and using tools like this with a specific, methodical approach in mind, will increase deep work further.


Overcoming Challenges to Enhancing Productivity

Exploring avenues for training, development, and efficient management of resources can help decrease distraction and increase productivity. For instance, investing in legal technology and training can help realise better processes, allowing barristers to focus more on their core legal work rather than administrative tasks. It’s not just about grabbing the latest court bundle software or the like, but about finding the right tools that are flexible enough to work with your workflow. If it’s too prescriptive, you won’t use it.



It is imperative for barristers (and everyone) to address both economic and personal productivity challenges. This is needed to remain competitive and effective in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Embracing principles of deep work and integrating them into daily practices can lead to significant improvements in focus, efficiency, and overall professional satisfaction. As we move forward, refining these strategies will be key to thriving in the demanding world of legal practice.

Unlocking the Power of Self-Discipline for Greater Achievement

Procrastination is a universal experience. Almost everyone has experienced at least one moment where they have put off an important task in favour of something more interesting, like a book, article, or video. In the worst cases, it can be in favour of simply doing nothing. However, while satisfying in the moment, acting on such impulses often leads to heightened anxiety, stress, and pressure later on. The key to breaking free from this cycle lies in self-discipline, enabling us to achieve more while reducing stress.


The Power (and Struggle) of Self-Discipline.

Self-discipline is defined as the ability to consciously resist impulses in pursuit of long-term goals. It is a highly influential characteristic in professional development and success. Research by psychologist Angela Duckworth has shown that self-discipline is a more potent predictor of academic achievement in adolescents than intelligence, significantly impacting final grades, attendance, and homework completion. Additionally, self-discipline is linked to positive career outcomes, contributing to both occupational success and satisfaction.

Self-discipline is undoubtedly important. Yet, it is a struggle for many. Research has revealed that self-control ranks low among character strengths in both adults and children, scoring 22nd out of 24 in the UK and last in the USA. Duckworth attributes this to the difficulty of balancing resources between our present desires, such as social interactions (spurring the urge to check your social media), and our future aspirations.

The ability to hone self-discipline is essential for achieving your professional goals and living up to your full potential. The good news is that self-discipline is a habit that can be cultivated over time. While it might be challenging to start, the more we practise it, the stronger and more automatic it becomes. And the stronger your self-discipline, the more you will experience changes in your professional life and mental health. 


Today we will share our favourite tricks to help you improve your self-discipline and work smarter.


1: Find What Is Tempting You and Self-Monitor

To cultivate self-discipline, it is essential to recognise that it is personal. Everyone has distinct temptations and tendencies. For example, some individuals may struggle to control their social media usage, while others may spend their time watching TV series. Identifying these barriers to self-control is a vital first step in developing strategies tailored to address your specific weak points.

Furthermore, identifying your temptations will allow you to self-monitor, tracking your behavioural patterns throughout the day. This allows you to determine whether your strategy is successful or requires refinement. 

By personalising your approach to self-discipline and self-monitoring, you lay a strong foundation, allowing you to devote your energy to effectively enhance your self-control to achieve your goals and improve your professional outcomes.


2: Look to the Future

According to Duckworth, having a goal-oriented mindset is fundamental to improving your self-control. Research studies have shown that setting specific, difficult goals enhances performance, especially when these goals are made public or shared in a group. Setting goals enables you to focus your attention on a specific outcome, and effectively allocate resources to its achievement.

Furthermore, breaking down a goal into smaller, more manageable sub-goals, has been linked to higher levels of productivity and commitment by making tasks appear more doable. This can enable you to maintain your motivation and sense of progress when working towards challenging goals. 

Once these goals are set, it is crucial to create a plan for their achievement. A proposed strategy for planning is known as mental contrasting and implementation intentions. This visualisation technique involves envisioning the positive outcomes associated with your goals and contrasting them with the current obstacles standing in your way. Through this process, you gain valuable insights that inform a detailed plan to tackle these obstacles effectively. Studies have linked employment of this strategy to significant increases in achievement and motivation.

By adopting a goal-oriented mindset and implementing strategies like mental contrasting and implementation intentions, you equip yourself with tools to overcome obstacles and achieve your professional goals. This will empower you to resist impulses and approach your work with more self-discipline. 


3: Manipulate Your Environment

Sometimes the easiest way to exercise self-discipline is to change your environment in a way that dampens a temptation. Doing this is known as a situational strategy for self-control, and is observable when someone hides their phone away at work, or puts up controls to prevent procrastinatory webpages from being accessed on their computer. In taking steps to remove the temptation from your environment, you are reducing the salience of the temptation in your mind, and minimising your impulse generation associated with low self-control. This will allow you to regulate your impulses and focus your attention on your work to achieve more


4: Practise Healthier Living

A healthy lifestyle significantly contributes to improved self-discipline. We’ve all had that day where we felt like we couldn’t think clearly due to a lack of sleep, or skipping a meal. It is in these situations where our self-control seems to diminish the most, and this is because a healthy mind is essential for mental clarity and good decision making. Therefore, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and quality sleep are all vital for enhancing self-control. This will also help you to build a foundation for better self-discipline in the future.  


5: Engage in Mindfulness

Mindfulness strengthens self-discipline by increasing self-awareness and curbing impulsivity and stress. Embrace mindful meditation to observe thoughts and emotions without judgement, fostering a calm and focused mindset. This will allow you to “surf the urge” without needing to act on your impulses. Simple deep breathing exercises serve as powerful tools to stay focused in challenging situations, empowering you to make deliberate choices rather than succumbing to distractions or negativity. By incorporating mindfulness into your daily routines, you enhance focus and self-control, reducing procrastination to pursue your long term professional goals.


As you implement these practices, you will hone your self-discipline, enabling you to achieve your full potential in your work. Remember, it's a journey of progress, not perfection, and implementing even one of these techniques will bring you one step closer to achieving your professional goals. Ready to work smarter?



  1. Duckworth, A.L. and Seligman, M.E.P. (2005) ‘Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents’, Psychological Science, 16(12), pp. 939–944. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01641.x.
  2. Choi, I. et al. (2018) ‘Comparing two roads to success: Self-control predicts achievement and positive affect predicts relationships’, Journal of Research in Personality, 76, pp. 50–63. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2018.07.001.
  3. Park, N., Peterson, C. and Seligman, M.E. (2006) ‘Character strengths in fifty-Four nations and the fifty US states’, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(3), pp. 118–129. doi:10.1080/17439760600619567.
  4. Duckworth, A.L., Milkman, K.L. and Laibson, D. (2018) ‘Beyond willpower: Strategies for reducing failures of self-control’, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19(3), pp. 102–129. doi:10.1177/1529100618821893.
  5. Duckworth, A.L. et al. (2013) ‘From Fantasy to Action: Mental Contrasting With Implementation Intentions (MCII) Improves Academic Performance in Children’, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4(6), pp. 745–753. doi:10.1177/1948550613476307.
  6. Duckworth, A.L., Gendler, T.S. and Gross, J.J. (2016) ‘Situational Strategies for self-control’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(1), pp. 35–55. doi:10.1177/1745691615623247.
  7. Savage, M., Boni, G. and Duckworth, A. (2022) The mental hacks that level up your self-control, BBC Worklife. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20191217-the-mental-hacks-that-level-up-your-self-control


Productivity Hacks to Help You Get More Out of Your Workday

In today's fast-paced world, we are constantly striving to accomplish more. However, working longer hours isn't always the answer. The key lies in knowing productivity hacks that help you work smarter, not harder.


What sets working hard apart from working efficiently?

Working hard typically means spending long hours and putting vast effort into a project. However, this does not necessarily mean you are making good use of your time, nor does it guarantee positive outcomes. When you work efficiently, you focus your energy on the highest-priority tasks and streamline your workflow to accomplish them promptly and effectively. This maximises your output while minimising your wasted time and effort. Sounds good, right?

In this article, we will share some of our favourite productivity hacks to help you make the most of your workday and achieve your goals without sacrificing your personal life or well-being.


Hack 1: Identify Your Most Productive Time

The time of day can significantly impact our energy levels and overall productivity. Understanding our body's natural rhythms can help us determine when we are most alert and focused. Everyone's productive time may vary, so it's crucial to pay attention to when you are the most energised (hint: for most, it's during the morning!). This will allow you to capitalise on your high-energy periods and tackle essential tasks that require full attention. By focusing on less demanding activities, you can also avoid wasting precious minutes during your low-energy time. Finding and utilising your productive time can increase efficiency and success, whether it's early morning, midday, or later in the evening.


Hack 2: Prioritise Your Tasks

When faced with a heavy workload, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start. In these cases, one of the most effective things to do is prioritising your tasks. By organising your to-do list, you ensure that you tackle the highest priority tasks first. This allows you to make progress on meaningful projects and avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with procrastination.

The Eisenhower Matrix is a handy tool that helps categorise tasks based on urgency and importance. Using this matrix, you can identify which tasks to tackle when you set up your work day. Setting clear goals and deadlines for each task is also crucial. This helps maintain your focus and motivation, knowing that you have specific targets to meet. Creating lists or using templates can make prioritisation even easier, as you can visually see and rearrange your tasks. You can attain your goals and increase your productivity by prioritising effectively.

The Eisenhower matrix – A popular prioritization framework | Spica

        Use the Eisenhower Matrix to decide which tasks to accomplish first (credit: Blaz Kos)


Hack 3: Minimise Distractions

We all know how tempting it can be to constantly check your phone for notifications while working. Such distractions significantly impact our ability to complete tasks efficiently. Turning off notifications and creating a dedicated workspace free from interruptions is helpful to combat this. You can better concentrate on your work to accomplish your goals by eliminating these distractions. Setting clear goals and deadlines for each task is also crucial, as it helps you stay motivated and ensures that you're working towards attainable objectives.


Hack 4: Manage Your Energy and Avoid Burnout

It can be difficult to continue your work when you are low on energy. While pushing ourselves to the limit is tempting, working non-stop can diminish our overall effectiveness. This is because having low energy disrupts your focus. Therefore, it's essential to listen to your body and prioritise self-care. Take regular breaks throughout the day to recharge and rejuvenate. Engage in activities that replenish your energy, such as exercise, mindfulness, or time outside. Additionally, ensure you get enough sleep each night to optimise cognitive function and maintain a healthy work-life balance. By managing your energy levels and preventing burnout, you'll sustain your productivity in the long run and be better equipped to tackle tasks with focus and efficiency.


Hack 5: Use Productivity Tools

Technology is an extremely helpful tool for streamlining your workflow and enhancing your productivity. One tool is Casedo, our user-friendly document organisation solution. With Casedo, you can effortlessly store, bundle, and mark up your documents in one workspace. This saves you time and effort, allowing you to effortlessly make sense of your documents. This software will enable you to maximise your productive time and avoid wasting minutes on disorganised tasks during your workday. It's a completely effortless way to stay organised and increase productivity.


Using a tool like Casedo can simplify and streamline your workflow

Implementing productivity hacks is essential for reducing time wastage and increasing efficiency during your workday. Start implementing these hacks and experience the freedom that comes with working smarter. Remember, the key to success is finding attainable ways to maximise productivity. Don't let deadlines and disorganisation hold you back. Work smarter and get more done!


7 Productivity tips

7 productivity tips for lawyers to improve efficiency

From the constant flow of queries, through to the client who telephones you with suggested changes to a court document just hours before it is due to be filed, life in a law firm can be anything but dull. But with such a demanding role many professionals are looking for ways to work better.


While it can be stimulating to have lots of things going on at once, getting through it all efficiently can be a major challenge. If you frequently feel like you are getting nowhere fast with your caseload, it’s definitely worth putting scrutinising your workplace productivity. Here, we explain how focusing on productivity tips for lawyers that can help you to increase efficiency and ultimately improve your performance. We also outline seven workable improvements to adopt to help you boost productivity and reach your full potential.


Reasons for lawyers to improve productivity

When lawyers implement smarter ways to increase their productivity, everyone can benefit. This includes clients, the firm as a whole and, of course, the individual lawyers themselves.


Greater efficiency means increased profitability

This is especially the case with fixed-fee work. The nature of this charging model means that regardless of whether the task in hand takes half an hour or half a day, the amount you can bill for it remains the same.

Increasing productivity makes it possible to get through your workload more efficiently. This increases your capacity, enabling you to handle a greater volume of files — and ultimately boost your billing figures.

Increased efficiency can mean fewer errors

Missed limitation dates and other important deadlines are among the most common causes of lawyer negligence. Other causes of complaint include rushed, poorly drafted documents, failing to identify key issues (defective title in a lease, for instance) and failure to provide proper advice to clients.

There is much greater scope for error if you are snowed under with work; especially if you are constantly switching between files. Implementing ways to operate more efficiently and productively allows sufficient time to consider the major issues linked to individual files in more detail. This helps reduce the chances of important points being overlooked.

More time for clients

Streamlining routine tasks can give you more time for what’s really important; especially when it comes to building and maintaining relationships with clients. Instead of trying to subtly usher clients out of the door, productive working practices can mean more time to devote to consultations. This might even include spotting opportunities for cross-selling additional services from across the firm.


7 Productivity Tips for Lawyers

1. Consider revising your office layout

Does your trainee solicitor have to trek down the corridor to see you each time they want to check something? Are your commercial leasing and property litigation departments at opposite ends of the building — even though they frequently work closely together?



Consider carefully whether your existing office layout helps with productivity or if it is actually a barrier to efficient working. If you have teams of lawyers, paralegals and assistants all working together on the same matter (on class actions, for example), an open plan office might make for more efficient working. For instance, when GlaxoSmithKline made the switch from assigned offices to open plan spaces, decision making processes were sped up by 25%.(1) Open plan won’t be suitable for every law firm, but it might be something to think about. If you’re in private practice or a smaller law firm, one small change you can make to could be to consider natural lighting. Studies have shown that natural light has a positive impact on work performance. So something as simple as moving your desk near a window could increase your productivity.(2)


2. Split complex tasks into more manageable chunks

Let’s say you have a long, complex job that you are not looking forward to tackling. Especially with a large caseload, procrastination becomes far too easy. It’s always possible to find excuses to put off the big, tricky job in hand.

To become more productive and to break the ‘force field’ that can develop around difficult files, you first need to find the right motivation. Psychologists refer to it as Goal-Setting Theory: the concept of splitting tasks up into specific goals.(3) A series of bite-size tasks tend to be much easier to approach than a wide-ranging project. As such, greater use of mini-milestones could be just what’s needed to improve your workflow.

3. Draw up a Kanban Board

Having a physical visualisation of your caseload workflow displayed prominently in the office can make it much easier to identify and then address the type of bottlenecks that can affect productivity. Examples might be gaps between reaching an impasse in pre-action negotiations and actually drafting proceedings, or undue delays in getting fee agreements or expert reports through.

All you need for this is a whiteboard, marker and post-it notes. Draw up columns for each main stage of case progression. Write the name of each case on a post-it note. As cases progress, move the post-it notes into the relevant columns. If too many are getting stuck in certain columns, these are the areas to focus on.

4. Establish set times for responding to communications

Productivity can suffer if you have to keep breaking off tasks to deal with incoming communications. That’s why, for both emails and routine telephone calls, it’s a good idea to set aside several blocks of about 30 minutes each to respond to messages.

You should find that it’s a lot more efficient to respond to these messages in batches rather than sporadically. Also, if you spread these blocks of time throughout the day, it still means that you are responding promptly to incoming communications.

5. Manage your templates

From client care letters and contracts right through to pleadings, document templates are a must for any lawyer who wants to boost their productivity and increase efficiency.

Templates save you time by removing the need to re-enter the same text into multiple documents, reduce the scope for error on matters that demand standard wording, while still providing you with the flexibility to tailor the document to your client’s specific circumstances.

Sometimes though, there can be so many templates in play within a law firm, searching for the right one can be something of a barrier to productivity in itself. To increase efficiency, make sure your templates are centrally stored, logically organised and named, and that out-of-date versions are removed. This helps ensure less time wasted on searching for documents — meaning more time on putting them to work.

6. Use digital case management

With a case management system, all your client information is kept on a single database. Most of these systems also feature automated document generation, helping you to reduce the time spent on routine caseload legwork, potentially freeing up time for more profitable tasks. You can read more about the benefits of this type of technology in our guide: How digital management systems improve efficiency.

7. Use organisational tools

Ever get that feeling that you are drowning in paperwork? Especially when there’s a large bundle to contend with, half the battle of improved productivity involves finding a way to become better organised.

This is where Casedo can be especially valuable. With it, you can digitise all the documents linked to case into a single manageable file. From here, you can highlight and annotate your documents, or bookmark and create links between relevant pieces of information for ease of access, allowing you to form an overall view of your case. By unifying the elements that make up your case into a single workspace, Casedo saves you time and energy and allows you to focus on legal research, analysis and practice.

Reducing the amount of time it takes to do specific tasks will leave you more time to focus on your legal research and analysis — ultimately improving your output. Plus, managing your workload more efficiently can also help your stress levels, allowing you to be a better lawyer, and protect your health.

To find more information on how you can boost your productivity, as well as other problems affecting the industry, read the articles in our Insights section.



  1. Silverman, R. and Sidel, R. (2012). Warming Up to the Officeless Office.. [online] The Wall Street Journal. Available at:https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304818404577349783161465976 [Accessed 7 June 2023].
  2. Meister, J. (2018). The #1 Office Perk? Natural Light [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-1-office-perk-natural-light“>https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-1-office-perk-natural-light [Accessed 7 June 2023].
  3. Tocino-Smith, J. (2019). What is Locke’s Goal Setting Theory of Motivation? (Incl. Examples). [online] PositivePsychology.com. Available at: https://positivepsychology.com/goal-setting-theory/ [Accessed 7 June 2023].


UPDATED: 2022.11.08

Person holding a rainbow of coloured vegetables to illustrate that you are what you eat

You are what you eat.

Katie McKenna delves into what we're all made of. We are what we eat, after all!

In my case, I must be chocolate. In all honesty, our reality is driven by what we consume daily and I’m not just talking about carbs and protein. Naturally, lawyers train to be risk adverse and see potential issues, problems and horrors awaiting in every transaction.

We take action to mitigate these risks and concerns obviously but it doesn’t fully escape our attention and we are always watching our own (and our clients backs) for the potential for financial, reputational, time consuming and miscellaneous damage causing monsters.

With this heavy burden hanging over us, it’s not a massive surprise that a lot of us can feel a bit down/low/negative.

We are what we consume, and we spend our professional lives gorging on a varied range of problems. Yes, we have skills for solving them, contracting for the possibility of same and offering practical solutions but how do we as a profession, see the positive again.


Feed your body

We work hard and when in court, at our desks, or knee deep in a massive client issue. We can forget to eat at all let alone take the time necessary to make a proper nutritious and fortifying meal. Water is such a vital part of our internal functions, but rarely do we hydrate using anything other than coffee. If you do anything after reading this, have a glass of water!

It’s not just about calorie intake, it’s about feeding our bodies with movement and proper rest. Make time to go for that walk, work it all out at the gym or go to bed early! It might feel counter intuitive with a deadline hanging over you, but it can make you feel so much better. If we neglect our basic needs, our performance will not be the best it could be.


Feed your mind

When we deal predominantly with worse case scenarios, our brains naturally operate from a rather negative place. For example, when you think about buying a new car, all you can see from then on is that make and model car everywhere you go. Your brain will never make you a liar. So, if you believe the world is full of horrible people, all you will see are the actions of horrible people whilst all the kind and good-hearted deeds go unnoticed. Gratitude is a really easy way to rewire your thoughts. Just think of five things that you appreciate on a regular basis. Amaze yourself at how this simple practice can change your mindset away from one of negativity.


Feed your soul

When was the last time you did something good for yourself? This has been a hard time of uncertainty and we all need to make time for ourselves, to rest and relax and enjoy life when we can. When did you last take a moment to truly listen to what you need and appreciate how far you have come. We also feed our souls when we help others. We help people professionally day to day, but we can help without using our legal skills too. Looking for inspiration here? Try getting more involved in your local area and the causes that are active therein. You could reignite your passion for tennis, volunteer to help your local Brownie or scout troop or get involved in projects to create positive change.


Feed your career

This is not just about progressing up the ladder, it’s about creating a career and reputation that brings you joy and fortifies your purpose in life. It’s about widening your own knowledge and experience. So many in our profession are consumed with the here and now that we rarely find time to fully consider what we want.

For example, when was the last time you properly thought five years ahead? What steps, training or action do you need to complete to achieve this? Research it and make a plan.

Have you taken time to think about how you can utilise your skills out with the law? There are so many valuable non-executive director, trustee and board positions than can widen your skillset and knowledge. In a similar vein, have you considered how your experience can help the next generation of solicitors or how you can benefit from same? There are some excellent mentoring schemes in place that are always calling out for willing participants.

This is just food for thought. Hopefully, by binging on all the delicious and good stuff in life we can stop worrying about impact the reality of our professional lives can have.


UPDATED: 2022.11.04

Are PDF Forms redundant?

Are PDF Forms redundant? – Part 2

And why is it that people keep insisting on using Word for forms?


In the first part of this blog I looked at what forms are and what makes a good form. I then had a look a both Word and PDFs for making forms. I this second part of the blog, I’ll briefly summarise the problem with both Word and PDF forms and then look at the alternatives.


What is the problem with Word and PDF forms?

When creating forms in Word or PDF, The whole process feels back-to-front. After all, what is the ultimate point of having a form in the first place? To collect data. And yet with both the Word and PDF way of creating a form, you start with the form not organising how the data is going to look. And it’s the data, as we keep being told, that is everything these days.


Here comes the cavalry – online forms

This isn’t news to anyone who has worked with online forms for the last decade or more, but there are much better ways to create forms out there, and they are both far easier and much more useful, even, or perhaps especially, for the lay person who just wants people to sign up to their kids club or register interest in work team event.


Front-building solutions

Whilst there are many bespoke solutions out there Google Forms and MS Forms are both very attractive options, as they lead with the form filling process and so will be familiar to those who have used Word and PDF for their forms in the past. They are extremely simple to use: create the fields and text for each that you need, and you’re off. Once done, share the link with whom you want to fill in the form and watch the responses come in on the same portal, or click a button to export the responses to a spreadsheet. Both are almost identical in how they work, they are very simple to use, with a very uncluttered interface. Yes, you can’t craft the perfect form in terms of formatting, but they get the data collected, data you can use.


Building from the ground up

Airtable, which we use at Casedo, works the other way around. Airtable is an online relational database, it’s a very powerful tool, that is essentially tables that can interlink and hold attachments as well as many type of text and numerical data. The collected data can then be analysed using a variety of graphical tools. To create a form in Airtable, you first create a table of the information you want, and then create a ‘form view’ which gives you a simple form with fields of the data that you want collecting, you can choose to include or exclude any of the fields, and add conditions to the form so that some fields only appear if certain answers are given to other fields. Again, as with Google Forms and MS Forms, you can then share a link to the form, or embed it in a website.

There is a trade off here, to be sure. With Airtable you get the full power of a great online database and less bells and whistles with the form creation itself, whilst with Google and MS Forms the opposite is true.

Again, there are a multitude of online form providers these days.


Conclusion – are PDF forms redundant?

Before researching for this article, I would’ve said yes and whilst my view has changed, it has only just budged. I have discovered that you can export the data from a PDF form, but it doesn’t appear to be pretty, and as I mentioned previously it all seems back-to-front. The same goes for Word.

For document workflows and making sense of any matter or research there are tools like Casedo for importing PDFs and Word docs and bringing them together to make sense of them. Word is still the go to Word processor, I could name some competitors, but when it comes to PDFs, this is the de facto standard for document sharing, I’m not sure the word ‘competition’ even fits.

However, when it comes to creating forms, Word should be laid to rest, and I feel you’d need a very good reason to use PDFs for creating forms, because the online solutions out there, three of which are suggested above, are standout superior.



Are PDF Forms redundant?

Are PDF Forms redundant? – Part 1

And why is it that people keep insisting on using Word for forms?


Submitting data, whether it’s to apply for a loan, registering a child for a summer camp, or signing a local petition, is part of life. But how the data is gathered and how usefully it’s gathered is key to both being able to use the data and being able to request additional data again. In this two-part blog I’ll provide a quick overview of what forms are and what makes a good form, and then run through the main form types used today with a particular focus on PDF forms.


It’s all very well talking about slick B2B processes and what’s available for those that get paid to put efficient systems in place, but in our daily lives, both professional and personal, we need to gather and share data, but we are often doing this on the fly, using methods that we have seen around us. The problem is that legacy workflows have often been superseded by much more efficient ways of doing stuff that we don’t know about.


Word forms have haunted us for decades

And this is exactly the issue. It used to be that forms would be typed up and copied using a printer, a photocopier or carbon paper. Then word processors appeared and we could type up a form on our screens and then just print off as many copies as we wanted to. That technological leap was more than three decades ago, and though new solutions are out there, many people insist on still using Word, only now they email the Word document around, to be filled in, as a form, with all the formatting rearranging as you go along. Not infrequently these forms are intended for printing and then filling, this is a non-business request and the number of non-printer households is decreasing - 82% in 2014.

Patently, using Word for forms is ridiculous. Word is many things (I write this with it now), but it is not for forms. Though I imagine you can export or save it as such. It is so poor because it doesn’t tick any of the boxes that a good form should tick:

1. The form creation experience

2. The form filling experience

3. The usefulness of the data entered

What can you do with the data that has been entered? Your options are to manually copy and paste it elsewhere, create a complex script and / or just archive it.


And so to PDF forms

When it comes to document management and document workflows, PDFs are fit for purpose. They were designed to be documents that can be shared in a variety of ways and keep their formatting and integrity. PDFs can have underlying searchable text whilst not affecting what the viewer sees. They had been the standard for decades. Tools such as Casedo import them seamlessly into their workspace for document analysis and mark up of multiple PDFs as if they are a single document. PDF Editors such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and PDF Expert can view multiple PDFs in tabs and edit the documents themselves, there are dozens of PDF Editor on the market.

Additionally, PDFs have been used as digital forms for a long time now. But how do they fare with our three key tests?

The Adobe form creation experience is not that straight forward. You are essentially building form fields around a text document. It’s time consuming and clunky, but it does have the advantage of creating a potentially very attractive form, and so nails number two on our list. Which brings us to the last thing on the list, the usefulness of the data itself.

It took a little time to find this, but data can be exported out of PDF forms, but the process smacks of reverse-engineering (a bit like PDF editing itself), it doesn’t look simple, but can be done. So for our third benchmark, PDF forms don’t fare well.


In the next part of the blog I’ll summarise the issues with using either Word or PDFs for forms and look at the online alternatives.



5 Best Tools for Law Students

Most law students struggle with digesting large amounts of information under tight deadlines. Managing time can be difficult when working under pressure and with limited resources. In recent years, technology has played a pivotal role in the lives of law students and legal professionals alike. Technological tools have acted as study aids, stress relief and assisted with work management


I made law students and legal professionals a list of invaluable apps that I think can help. Here are my top 5 tools that I have relied on throughout my studies and career.


1. Dropbox or Google Drive/OneDrive

In my opinion, everyone should use a cloud storage solution. This way, you will be able to save your documents, assignments, and any relevant study materials handy and ready to be accessed anywhere and at anytime. Imagine a scenario where your bag gets stolen or perhaps your laptop crashes a few days before your deadline. It’s not impossible, it may happen to anyone. In fact, it happened to me. But if you have them saved on one of above-mentioned tools, there will be no issues.

A note of caution; remember that Cloud Storage is like an external disk drive on your laptop. It might be that you are using Cloud Storage as a backup for your files, but you can also use it as just another folder. In other words, if you only have a single copy of a file, no matter where it is stored, if it is accidentally deleted, you might lose it. Cloud Storage and back up are not the same thing!

https://www.google.com/drive/ https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/onedrive/online-cloud-storage https://www.dropbox.com/


2. Microsoft Outlook

This app is especially great for students who have multiple emails to manage. That could be your work email, your university email or your private email. Microsoft outlook keeps all of your emails simultaneously open in one tab, and you could manage them separately as you wish. Having this app handy is a lifesaver.



3. Legal Cheek

Legal Cheek is the most read legal news organisation in the UK. They provide aspiring lawyers and students with a combination of news, analysis, careers advice and insider insight on the leading law firms and chambers operating in the UK. Law students can use Legal Cheek to stay commercially aware, and to get ahead of the curve with invaluable career advice. You can also tune in on the industry gossip!



4. Casedo

Okay, I’ll admit a little bias here, but Casedo is a brilliant tool to help any law student and legal professional manage a paperless workload. As a law student, you can use this as a workspace to bring together all of your documents into one space. You can easily switch between them, highlight the vital information, annotate your documents, make notes and link between files. The software was initially developed for legal professionals; however, due to the high demand, law students can now also use it for their coursework and in their mooting competitions. Casedo is designed as a space to bring together relevant inter-related documents to make sense of them; as such, it is excellent for research and case management.



5. Headspace

It is a fact that law is a very demanding course, and it is almost unlikely that a law student did not struggle with their mental health during busy periods like exam season. Headspace helps and teaches users how to meditate with guided meditation sessions. Meditation improves focus and decreases stress and anxiety. Emotional well-being is essential when attending law school. You’ll be under an immense amount of stress, and learning how to meditate and calm your mind can make it all a little more manageable.



While you're here, why not read our article on 'Let’s talk about Mental Health First Aid'? Click HERE for the full text on Legal Futures.

7 benefits of collaboration for lawyers

According to a study of more than one thousand companies, those organisations that actively promoted collaboration were five times more likely to be high performing. And while the legal profession has traditionally had a rather collaboration-phobic reputation, forward-thinking lawyers are now increasingly embracing smarter ways to promote teamwork. Experience on the ground suggests that firms, chambers, clients and individual lawyers are all reaping the benefits of innovative collaboration techniques.


So are you ready to make the shift towards greater collaboration? Here’s a closer look at the practical benefits that collaboration can bring for lawyers.


1. Attract new clients

Think about the types of client you would most like to bring on board. On the commercial side, it could be growth-stage companies, along with more established businesses with a wide range of legal needs.

Now think of the ways in which those businesses operate. In all likelihood, collaboration comes as second nature to them: in fact, they may even have particular collaboration-focused methodologies in place. Lots of law firms will have the technical skills to meet their needs, but which firm will be the best fit for a long-term relationship?

Once you embrace collaboration and put in place the case management and other tools to enable it, you can then showcase this as part of your marketing. Your way of working can form part of your unique selling point: a very useful draw for attracting lucrative instructions both from ambitious businesses and (on the private client side), the individuals who work within them.


2. Get the most out of your lawyers

Most firms have a set procedure in place for allocating new files to fee earners. So in an ideal world, at any one time, each lawyer will have enough work on to keep them busy without being snowed under.

Sometimes though, there can be a ‘feast or famine’ dimension to the way in which caseloads move along and new instructions come through the door. Let’s say one of your fee earners happens to conclude several of her big cases all in one go, freeing up her time. Ordinarily, she would be first in line for fresh work, but it’s a slow month for new instructions. In the meantime, it makes sense for her to help out with her colleagues’ caseloads.

If you have a case management system with a progress dashboard, a fully digitised file complete with the ability to annotate key documents, ad hoc collaboration for lawyers becomes a lot easier. Lawyers can get up to speed with unfamiliar cases very quickly. As such, there’s greater scope for fee earners to jump in and assist with existing matters in those instances where they have spare capacity.


3. Collaboration boosts wellbeing and performance in lawyers

Working in a silo can be a lonely experience. Pressure can build, and it can be hard to ask for help when you know that your colleagues are equally busy with their own to-do lists.

Evidence suggests that if you create a collaborative culture, staff tend to be happier, more productive and more engaged. For instance, one research study showed that participants who acted collaboratively stuck at the task 64% longer than their peers who were working alone. They reported higher engagement levels, lower fatigue levels and a higher success rate.(1)


4. Open up new types of work

A big new case arrives. It will demand several of your lawyers and support staff working on it at once, possibly also with help from outside the firm.

You might ordinarily be reluctant to take on class actions and certain other labour-intensive, ‘document-heavy’ work. It isn’t so much the technical complexity of this type of work that’s putting you off, but the logistics of getting everyone working together.

However, equipped with a basic project management platform, remote access and document sharing with real-time editing capabilities, your ability to collaborate is hugely enhanced. It may even open up the possibility of taking on major, lucrative opportunities that you previously considered beyond your reach.


5. Faster turnaround and higher client satisfaction

Take a look at TrustPilot and other review sites and it becomes clear that swift, efficient handling of legal issues is one of the main drivers of positive reviews.

Collaborative working can actively help in keeping matters moving. This might involve encouraging lawyers to routinely seek input from inside the firm whenever they reach an impasse with the other side. More generally, by enhancing their ability to work as a team, you are likely to find that lawyers are able to progress matters more efficiently, thereby helping to keep satisfaction levels high — along with your review score.


6. Enhance your skillset

LinkedIn’s latest Talent Trends report suggests that 94% of employees would stay with a firm longer if they were offered learning opportunities.2 To support learning and development in a legal firm setting, collaborative working offers an excellent opportunity for both lawyers and support staff to gain experience in unfamiliar areas of law. One way to do this is to get employees involved in tasks on specific files. It’s a good way of exposing them to new work while under supervision, thereby helping them expand their skillset.


7. Easier recruitment

How do you attract the best talent to your firm or chambers? LinkedIn’s research also reminds us that there’s much more to it than the size of the salary on offer. New recruits increasingly look for evidence of a supportive culture, training and development opportunities, as well as the type of intuitive technologies that makes tasks easier to manage.(2)

We’ve already seen how adopting a collaborative approach and then showcasing your efforts can help attract clients. The same also goes for recruitment: by making it clear to new applicants that you actively encourage collaboration, it helps to paint a picture of a culture where they are likely to thrive and succeed.

Designed specifically for lawyers, Casedo lets you organise and manage even the most complex case bundles with ease for a single view. To discover a better way of working, book a demo of the Casedo software today. For lots more hints and tips on how lawyers can work better, explore our Insights Hub.



  1. Gaskell, A. (2017). New Study Finds That Collaboration Drives Workplace Performance. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2017/06/22/new-study-finds-that-collaboration-drives-workplace-performance/#26cabd23d025 [Accessed 6 Mar. 2020].
  2. Samantha, M., 2020. Half Of All Companies Aren’T Providing A Positive Employee Experience. Here Are 7 Ways To Deliver One. [online] Business.linkedin.com. Available at: https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/employee-retention/2020/ways-to-provide-positive-employee-experience [Accessed 9 March 2020].

How digital case management systems improve efficiency

A new case management system could be just what your firm needs to deal with sprawling caseloads, poor document management and technical barriers to collaboration: the very things that too often stop lawyers performing at their very best.


As The Law Society found recently, progressive members of the profession are busy shaking off its dusty image; thanks in part to the rise of tech-savvy lawyers who are much more likely to embrace new and smarter ways of working.(1) Offering the promise of a paperless office, streamlined workflows and more time for clients rather than being bogged down in paperwork, a new breed of case management system features front and centre in this mini technological revolution.

So how exactly can a case management system support an efficiency drive within your firm? Here’s a closer look at what’s possible.


Do I need a legal case management system?

The typical case management system provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for dealing with all aspects of your caseload.

Let’s say you need to work on a particular matter. Instead of hunting for the paper binders, you log onto your system, navigate to the relevant digital case file and access everything you need from there. This includes correspondence and other communications, file and attendance notes, key documents and contact details for all relevant parties.

Other popular system features include automated calendaring to keep you on top of important deadlines, the ability to generate and auto-fill forms and correspondence, along with automatic time recording and billing.

Here are some of the practical ways this digitised case management approach can help you become more efficient…


Promoting the paperless office

The typical worker in a traditional office setting uses about 10,000 pieces of paper each year.(2) In law firms especially, all of those physical files take up valuable office space. Individual items can go astray or even fall into the wrong hands. And of course, there are few things more frustrating than hunting high and low for a particular form or letter: especially when you’re faced with a deadline.

Modern case management systems all rely on file digitisation. This means that each and every document you need in relation to a case is made available in one central location, while any physical documents you receive are scanned and added to the system. A great case management system will also have a clear navigation and search function to help you instantly get hold of exactly the case information you need.

On average, a fifth of our time is wasted in trying to locate the information we need to do our jobs.(3) By cutting out those trips to the filing cabinet and making everything accessible with just a couple of clicks, you can dramatically reduce this major cause of inefficiency.


Making collaboration possible

In law firms, silos can be among the biggest barriers to greater efficiency. These days, most barristers, solicitors and paralegals have no objections in principle to working together on files; it’s just that technical limitations can stop it from happening.

If you are trying to work together on a physical file, it can be hard to work out who’s done what, thereby running the risk of task duplication. With paperless case management, team members can log in and instantly get up to speed with what’s happening via the matter dashboard. This makes case management software a particularly valuable investment if you’re serious about making greater use of teamwork to maximise efficiency.


Less time on forms means more time for strategy

Especially in areas such as conveyancing and corporate recovery, client matters tend to progress according to standard workflows, whereby certain forms need to be completed at set points in time. Even in more complex matters, there are still plenty of routine procedures you need to follow (standard client care letters, AML checks and interim billing, for instance).

Case management systems can help reduce the resources required for these routine, yet necessary, tasks. This includes generating standard letters at the right time, automatic field completion on official document templates and automatic time recording and billing.

Reducing your admin burden gives you more time for case strategy: you can focus on moving your caseload forward more efficiently rather than being faced with a mountain of forms to complete.


Get the most from your documents, and your time

Going paperless through a case management system can certainly help you get better organised. Featuring the latest optical character recognition (OCR) technology as standard, Casedo lets you take all of those scanned documents and turn them into a readable format. This means you can edit, annotate and search through a scanned document in the same way as a standard Word document.

For more tips on how to drive efficiency in your firm, be sure to browse our Insights hub. To discover for yourself how a rapidly growing number of chambers and law firms are transforming their approach to case management with Casedo, book a demo today or try Casedo free for 30 days.



  1. Lawsociety.org.uk. (2019). Lawtech Adoption Research report - The Law Society. [online] Available at: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/research-trends/lawtech-adoption-report/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].
  2. Smith, J. (2019). Why businesses need to go paperless now. [online] ITProPortal. Available at: https://www.itproportal.com/features/why-businesses-need-to-go-paperless-now/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].
  3. Noi, D. (2018). Do workers still waste time searching for information?. [online] Blog.xenit.eu. Available at: https://blog.xenit.eu/blog/do-workers-still-waste-time-searching-for-information [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].