< back to articles listings

Confessions of a JD Neat Freak

by Jay Reeves |

I must confess to being a bit of a neat freak about my home and workspace.

I believe the benefits of orderliness – knowing where things are, not wasting hours looking for what you need, having a comfortable landing pad after another hard day on planet earth – outweigh the modest cost in time and effort.

Plus I enjoy the satisfying feeling of having control over my surroundings, a fleeting illusion that ends the moment I open my front door to the noisy and cluttered world outside.

But I also understand there is a fine line between keeping a tidy house and being over-the-top, neurotic and insufferable. Moderation in all things, including housekeeping. Listen to Marie Kondo, the queen of decluttering, when she says she no longer stresses about maintaining a perfect house now that hers is full of children.

I suppose some of us are born with a compulsion to straighten every slightly off-center picture, while others live in chaos without a care. But as a career risk manager, I can attest that a little order and organization can bring a lot of protection and peace of mind. 

Here then, with a hat tip to the evolving Marie Kondo, are some pointers:

  • Identify your place on the Spectrum of Law Office Tidyness. On one end of the scale is the office so outdated, cluttered and disorganized it is a malpractice bomb waiting to happen. At the other end is one that is sanitized, systemized and squeaky-clean – and the paper clips are painstakingly sorted by color.
  • Ask Why? Before engaging in a tidying project ask yourself why you’re doing it. How easily we fall into routines of doing things a certain way or putting things in designated places, but to what end? What’s the ROI?
  • Make it a team effort. To this day I can recall clean-up Saturdays at my first law job, the entire office showing up to clean out the File Room with pizza and football on the radio. Good times, indeed. Afterward the room was immaculate, which kept the good feeling going.
  • Claim your workspace. Take pride in it, whether office or home. Establish boundaries and safeguard them. Hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. The fewer wanderers passing through your turf, the less likely your phone charger will be returned to the wrong drawer or your tape dispenser will be “borrowed” and never returned at all.
  • Eliminate commingling. Just as you shouldn’t commingle personal funds with funds from your client trust account, it is a bad idea to habitually use your workspace for eating, changing clothes, clipping nails, etc. It will lose some of its professional luster.
  • Let someone else do it. If dusting the credenza to a mirrored gleam or having your pencils all sharpened to the exact same length doesn’t bring you inner peace, outsource the job. 
  • Create a sanity room. Or closet or corner or patch of garden. This is a place for you to unwind, offload, meditate, stretch, or simply sit quietly. Declutter your mind before tackling the task of decluttering your life.


Law Life Thought for the Day: “The best fighter is never angry.” Lao Tzu

Law Life List #1: 10 Songs About Cleanliness:
(1) Clean-up Woman – Betty Wright (2) A Little Bit of Soap – The Jar-Mels (3) Splish-Splash – Bobby Darin (4) Tiny Bubbles – Don Ho (5) She Came in Through the Bathroom Window – The Beatles (6) Shower the People – James Taylor (7) Tidy Up, Clean Up – The Kiboomers (8) Clean Water – Bobby Charles (9) Look Sharp – Joe Jackson (10) Baby, Let’s Play House – Elvis

Law Life List #2: Top Books from Marie Kondo:
(1) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2) Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life (3) Spark Joy (4) Tidying Up With Marie Kondo (5) Kiki and Jax: Life-Changing Magic of Friendship (6) Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life 


Jay Reeves practiced law for nearly 40 years in North and South Carolina. He has never been accused of being over-the-top, neurotic or insufferable. Not even once. Honestly. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World and runs Your Law Life LLC. 

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Newsletter Signup