Core processes are those activities that your company engages in regularly and are central to your organization’s mission. Over time, your business has probably moved towards performing these activities in the most efficient and effective manner. It is important to document these processes, so if a key employee leaves suddenly, their replacement will not be starting from scratch. Rather they will have a guide to follow which will save time, money, and headaches.

Core processes can refer to anything as mundane as saving files or higher level such as onboarding employees and intaking clients. These processes should be written in an easy-to-understand outline form. The point is not to capture every detail but rather the essential steps of the activity. At the bottom of each process, record:

  • The date of implementation
  • The date the process should be reviewed
  • And which position is responsible for the process


Core Process Examples

Below are three sample processes that our firm uses:

1) Naming and Saving Files (PDF)

Files should be saved in the following format:


The date should be in the following format yyyy/mm/dd.


  • Pleadings: The date should be the date served or filed.
  • Correspondence: If sent by us, the date on the letter and the date sent should be the same.  For letters received, the date should be the date on the letter, but should also be stamped with the date we actually received the letter and then scanned to Box.
  • Other Documents: The date should be in the following order–the (effective) date on the document, the date the final document is signed, or lastly the date the document was created if a draft.
  • Longer file names ok. File names should tell you exactly what the document is.
  • Generally, don’t abbreviate. Often a search for certain types of documents won’t catch abbreviations.  Abbreviating the first name of an individual is OK.
  • Be accurate. A memorandum in support of a motion is not a “motion.”
  • Be thorough. A summons with an attached complaint should not simply be described as a summons because that is the document on top.  If a document has a cover letter, name the document(s) attached and add “with a cover letter” to the description.  If the letter is more than a mere letter, note the letter first and add “with attached [DESCRIBE DOCUMENT]”
  • Examples. Some examples:
    • 2014-09-10 S. Jones’s Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment – J. Smith
    • 2014-10-5 J. Smith’s Answers to S. Jones’s Interrogatories with a cover letter – J. Smith
    • 2014-11-23 Letter from J. Smith to S. Jones with attached vendor contract – J. Smith
    • 2014-12-2 Signed settlement agreement between J. Smith and S. Jones – J. Smith
  • Drafts. If a document is a draft, the first word of the description should be, in all caps “DRAFT”.
    • 2014-10-10 DRAFT vendor contract between J. Smith and S. Jones – J. Smith
  • Federal ECF. For ECF documents from federal court including the docket # in the description:


[01] 2015-01-09 Summons – J. Smith

2) On-Boarding for New Hires (PDF)


  1. Send offer letter
  2. Determine software needs
  3. Determine hardware needs
  4. Determine location for employee to work
    1. Have clean workspace set up
  5. Contact current IT provider
    1. Order hardware and software
    2. Email set up
    3. Voicemail & phone set up
    4. Box
    5. Clio
    6. Other software set up
  6. Print out Employment Forms
    1. W-4
    2. I-9
    3. Direct deposit
    4. Health insurance (and provide rates)
    5. Dental (and provide rates)
    6. Life (and provide rates)
    7. Long-term disability (and provide rates)
    8. HSA information
    9. Additional forms if additional benefits provided
  7. Provide 401K booklet with Forms
  8. Contact information for benefit representatives
  9. Send email to all employees announcing employee
  10. Email new employee first day logistics
  11. Get office key/entry card for employee
  12. Get parking pass if downtown
  13. Email signature set up

First Day

  1. Have all forms filled out by employee
  2. Review I-9 Form
  3. Provide the procedures book & procedure training
  4. Give employee Handbook to employee and have them sign acknowledgment
  5. Introduce new employee to all employees
  6. Give tour of office
  7. Calendar set up – invite to firm-wide events and meetings
  8. CLIO training 1-2 hours
  9. Box training
  10. Other software training depending on position
  11. Take out for lunch – invite other employees to join
  12. Phone training (if paralegal or administrative assistant)’
  13. Train on any specific equipment if needed
  14. Order business cards (if needed)
  15. If new hire is an attorney, have the new hire send out an email with background and practice areas to entire firm

 First Week

  1. Review firm workflows
  2. Set up short meetings with each attorney to understand attorney’s practice area and expectations (if staff)
  3. Meet with COO at the end of the first week to determine how things are going
  4. Meet with CEO on VTO/core values/EOS
  5. Meet daily with supervisor to discuss any issues (by phone if not co-located)
  6. Train in properly on all job functions
  7. If attorney, put bio information on website
  8. Define for new hire what success looks like
  9. Contact CRM integration (if attorney)
  10. First Thursday – spend 2 hours at Plymouth office if working downtown
  11. Plymouth office employees to spend first 2 days downtown for training on systems

First Month

  1. Add employee into monthly meetings with COO (or responsible supervisor)
  2. Review success metrics

 Third Month

  1. Meet to review progress/end of trial period review and compensation changes (if promised)
  2. Quarterly photo shoot for website etc.

3) Timekeeping (PDF)

  1. Be complete and descriptive. Show clients the value they are getting from your service.
  2. Generally avoid abbreviations, except conference = conf.; regarding = re.; and a person’s name = J. Doe. Always abbreviate names this way.
  3. The first word of almost every activity description should be an active tense verb. So “Draft…,” “Analyze…,” “Analyze and research…,” etc., not “Drafted…” or “Drafting…” or “Complaint drafting…”  The exception is describing conferences, which can start “Office conf. with J. Doe re….”
  4. Generally, put all work done in a single day in a single time entry.
  5. Always separate actions in a single time entry with a semicolon and begin the next entry with a capital letter. So, for example: “Analyze legal issues regarding shortened briefing schedule; Draft correspondence to J. Doe regarding same”
  6. Never put a period or other punctuation at the end of the last activity in an entry.
  7. Unless you are the responsible attorney on the matter, generally record all your time and do not discount or otherwise cut it down.
  8. Generally: when you work on a document you “Draft” or “Revise”; when you research or generally figure stuff out you “Analyze” or “Research and analyze”; letters are “correspondence”; and emails are emails.