I learned early-on in my paralegal career that organization is key. And as other paralegals know all-too-well, its not about keeping yourself organized, its about keeping others organized as well (Mr. “where’s the damn document” I’m looking at you).
Scanning technologies and file management is an ever growing area of the legal profession. Some offices are now even moving to a completely paperless file management system. My firm isn’t quite there yet, but I’m increasingly realizing the benefits. Papers get lost. Its inevitable. When someone loses an important document and I am easily able to reproduce it by bringing up the scanned version through our document management system, I get this rush of “you go girl” euphoria, having felt like I saved the day. Our copies are also scanners, so whenever I’m having to run a copy I also run a scan. I’ve also made a rule to spend the last 30 minutes of my day, when my mind is shot anyway, to mindlessly scan the day’s documents into our system.
Anyway, what does this have to do with my law school application process, you ask? Well, a lot. I’m finding that my paralegal-organizational skills are lending themselves nicely to this stressful, bound-to-be disorganized time in my life. I’m applying to 10-ish schools. Actually, that number is increasing almost daily, so by the time you read this I’ll probably have doubled that. (Thanks to solicitation emails and fee waivers.)
To keep myself organized I put together an excel spreadsheet that tracks the school, date the application is available, whether I’ve been granted a fee waiver (some schools will automatically waive their application fee if the applicant has been granted an LSAC fee waiver), the date I applied, whether I’ve received a response, what the result was, and whether I was granted scholarship money. I’ve provided a PDF copy here: Applications Tracking Spreadsheet and would be happy to provide the actual excel spreadsheet to anyone who would like a copy (shoot me an email at lawschooldreamer at gmail dot com). By sorting the document based on the date the application is available I can prioritize which apps to work on first. In my case, most of the apps for the schools I’m applying to will become available on September 1st. There are several that won’t be available until September 15th, and a few that are holding out until October 1st (grrrr.)
I’ve also created electronic folders for each school I’m applying to in order to further keep myself organized and limit the potentiality of uploading my PS to “Esteemed School of Law” that was intended to be sent to “Fabulous School of Law.” Additionally, within each individual school’s folder I’ve also included a sub-file entitled “misc. info” where I keep a word document containing a list of why I want to go that particular school, copies of any articles pertaining to that school, and any school-specific tips or ideas I have on the application process, and any tidbits that may help me in writing a slightly modified personal statement for each school.
Whew! I’m super-eager to get started! I cant wait to fill up my spreadsheet!