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The New York Times bestselling author, Atul Gawande, reveals the surprising power of an ordinary checklist in The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Done Right, a fantastic addition to any lawyer's library.

This book is an intellectual adventure, highlighting the value of checklists through connections with life-or-death situations where checklists are imperative. The premise of the book stems from Gawande’s own inspiration after reading a story about a child who fell through a frozen lake and nearly drowned. It was the doctor’s meticulous checklist system that saved the child’s life, creating a springboard for the system that Gawande outlines in the book.  

Gawande describes errors of ignorance —mistakes one makes because they do not know enough - and errors of ineptitude—mistakes one makes due to improper use of what they know. In the modern world, many make mistakes of ineptitude, which can easily be fixed with checklists, which serve as written guides that walk you through the key steps.

This book is helpful for lawyers that want to up their game and recognize the opportunities that making mistakes can give to them for growth. The Average American worker makes about 118 mistakes per year, with people two times more likely to make mistakes while multitasking. Mistakes can kill a career or client relationship, but checklists serve to avoid errors and develop pause points in a project. They help to not drop the same balls repeatedly and master the tasks they face, while offering natural points of reflection in the process

This book is a great way to begin a dialogue with a legal team about how to better catch and address common issues through developing and maintaining process checklists for tasks like client onboarding, litigation preparation, and research. Preventable mistakes for lawyers include typos, misinformation or misquotes, customer service or communication hiccups, cultural competence mistakes, and more. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Done Right does a good job of driving home the point that no one is above a checklist, not even attorneys.

I highly recommend this book for solo practitioners and small law firms looking to standardize their business workflows and processes. It is a great read for attorneys that cringe at preventable mistakes. With just a simplechecklist, any lawyer can create streamlined processes that result in better outcomes and happier clients.  

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