Book a Call


Gimbal's Tip of the Week

The Lean Law Firm Blog

E74: The matter management mistake you need to avoid

matter management Mar 17, 2021
double rainbow

When you’re running complex legal matters with a visual system, color-coding tasks and files will save you time and effort. But if you’re using a rainbow of colours you may have too much of a good thing. So what’s the sweet spot?

Welcome to Gimbal’s Tip of the Week, where you get practical, actionable advice you can use right away to start building a more productive and profitable legal practice.

want to watch this tip instead?

All this month, we’ve been talking about improving how you track and supervise work in your law practice using matter management boards. We’ve shared some of the top tips from our newly updated (and totally free) Matter Management Quick-Start Guide.

Last week, we talked about customizing your board by breaking down your “Doing” column into sub-columns to represent different stages (or Phases) of your workflow. Adding color is another really effective way to customize your board AND increase your ability to extract the information you need quickly.

The whole point of visual matter management is to give you information at a glance, without wasting your effort or your time. So how you add color depends on YOUR needs. What information do YOU need to get quickly to run your practice more efficiently?

Maybe you need to know priority or urgency, so you color-code tasks as red, yellow, or green. Maybe you want to represent each lead attorney with a different color, so you can SEE immediately who is responsible for a task or matter. Maybe you’re tracking total WIP across multiple practice areas. In that case, it might be helpful to use different colors for different types of matters - say, blue for family law matters, red for real estate, green for estate planning, and so on, etc.


There’s a point of diminishing returns when it comes to color-coding. One of our clients runs about 80 different projects using Microsoft Planner. If you use it, you’ll know that Planner just went from 6 label colors to 26 label colors. What should we do with the extra colors, our client asked. Our advice? Nothing.

If you use too many colors, you’ll waste time trying to remember which one applies to which situation. When you look at your board, it’ll be harder to remember what the colours mean and it might even be a challenge to tell certain colours apart (to get 26 different label colours, you’re going to have some that are pretty similar, right?) and that means it will be much harder to get the information you need from your board quickly.

Remember, matter management boards are designed to SIMPLIFY your life. Keep your color-codes simple and don’t try to get too granular.


This week’s tip? Use color to customize and organize your board. Color-coding your matter and task cards will significantly improve your ability to visually extract the information you need quickly. Lawyers who use matter management boards find it much easier to manage client files on time and on budget with a whole lot less effort and stress.

Still need help setting up your board? Our free Matter Management Quick-Start Guide will teach you everything you need to know in five easy steps.

If you want more tips for increasing productivity in your practice, be sure to sign up to hear from us once a week.

Thanks a lot everybody! See you next week



Success in your inbox!

Sign up for our Tip of the Week for practical, actionable advice that will help you build a more profitable, productive practice.

We will provide you with practice management tips and related information and offers. We will never sell your information, for any reason. Unsubscribe at any time.