Pro Se Help — Organization is Vital


The Shortest Pencil in the World…

It’s one of the keys to organization.  And keeping your information organized is vital when you are representing yourself in court.

You are at a massive disadvantage, so you have to do everything you can to make the best use of your time….

A place for every thing, and every thing in its place!  Be organized.  I will admit that I do not do a good job with filing paper, so one of the things I have done is to try to minimize the paper.

If you are involved in very much legal activity, you can get buried in paper.  I now scan everything so I can convert all signed filings to pdf files.  I use a standardized system for naming my files.  Once again, this makes it easy to sort by the “Name” field in Windows Explorer to find all similar items.  Here is my system: (case number)-(name of motion or document with each word separated by a hyphen)-(any variation of the main document, always separating words with a hyphen)-(date — always yyyy-mm-dd as that will sort the same document’s versions in chronological order).  So, for example: 2011Cv206243-Motion-for-Sanctions-2011-11-23.  The response to the Motion would be: 2011CV206243-Motion-for-Sanctions-Response-from-Defendants-2011-12-10.  It’s a good system, though the date is often the most important bit of information, and I can’t sort by that.  I do use these headers in Internety Explorer: Name, Date Created, Date Modified, Size, Type.

Email is now the primary source of information or so it seems.  I have a good system of folders, and I try to bcc myself on anything that I feel could be of any relevance someday, and I drag these into the appropriate folder.

I always use a standardized system for entering the Subject of my emails.  The goal is to make it easy to sort by Subject field and group all like things together.  I also make powerful use of the “search” feature in Microsoft Outlook.  It will find what you have.  If your search keywords are in the Subject line, it makes it even easier.

Record, record, record.  As I have written in another article, record “events.”

And always remember to TAKE NOTES!  I take notes whenever and wherever possible.  I date and time them.  I get names.  I note what happened, who said what, add names of witnesses, etc.  Information is power, so I always want to have as much information as I can possibly get.  One of my personal philosophies in life is: “The shortest pencil in the world is better than the longest memory.”  That means WRITE IT DOWN!

Be organized.  Have a system.  Find what you need when you need it.

I do a lot of legal research.  Most attorneys have always used Lexis-Nexis, an expensive service.  The Internet has made a great deal of legal information accessible for free or for low cost.  Some use Google Scholar for legal research.  Others use  I primarily use  It’s an inexpensive Lexis-Nexis-like service.  I will discuss my research system in a separate article.  What I want to mention here is how I organize my research.  I have a Miccrosoft Word file open as I research.  When I find relevant information, I copy and paste it into my Word file.  I copy the citation and put it in (parentheses) at the end of the information that I copied and pasted.  I then put a line space, two asterisks, and then another line space before i add the next one.


This keeps the citations separate.  I name the file: research-(topic)-yyy-mm-dd.  For example, Research-Rule-60-2011-11-23.  I keep all of my research in a “Research” folder underneath a major category “Legal” folder.

I scan all of my evidence, and I keep the originals in Office Depot letter-size file boxes.

I have found that the best system for me is to keep a running number system for exhibits.  I set up a Microsoft Excel file for this.  Every time I file a motion, I grab the exhibit numbers for documents previously used, and I add new ones for new documents.

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William M. Windsor

I, William M. Windsor, am not an attorney.  This website expresses my OPINIONS.   The comments of visitors or guest authors to the website are their opinions and do not therefore reflect my opinions.  This website does not provide legal advice.  I do not give legal advice.  I do not practice law.  This website is to expose government corruption, law enforcement corruption, political corruption, and judicial corruption. Whatever this website says about the law is presented in the context of how I or others perceive the applicability of the law to a set of circumstances if I (or some other author) was in the circumstances under the conditions discussed.  Despite of my concerns about lawyers in general, I suggest that anyone with legal questions consult an attorney for an answer, particularly after reading anything on this website.  The law is a gray area at best.  Please read our Legal Notice and Terms.

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