A Trello Experiment: Pinterest for Business?

Let’s first consider Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest, the online pin board for ideas, inspiration, and generally pretty things. In certain creative communities, Pinterest really took off. But I certainly can’t say that Pinterest was useful for me, or any other lawyer I know, in terms of their business and professional pursuits. Pinterest simply doesn’t make you better at lawyering.

Here comes Trello. Stepping in to the pin board space, but allowing for document uploads and organized interactions for project management. As their website says, Trello is “lists of lists.” And they work beautifully.

Trello is billed basically as a project management tool. For my purposes, I experimented with Trello in the context of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Board of Directors. For many of the lawyers out there involved in bar associations, you know that committee involvement can mean many emails, various documents, and an unending stream of events and educational seminars that become very hard to keep track of. Trello seeks to streamline this type of communication and workflow into one easy-to-use format. Here is what it looks like:

trello

Each column has a unifying organizational theme or title. On our YLD board of directors, we have a variety of committees. To add a committee to this column, you simply click to add a card, name it after your particular committee, and add it to the list. All messages and information by and for that committee now can reside in that card.

For documents common to the entire BOD, we have created a separate column that houses all of the documents we use frequently. Again, all documents can be added to their particular card. For example, to add the minutes from the last meeting, a user can upload the Word document to the “meeting minutes” card and it is housed there permanently so everyone can access it. My number one cheer for Trello is their ease of use and at-a-glance design. When you open your “board” on Trello, the entirety of your project is sitting in front of you. Users are able to add as many team members as they’d like to and you can assign tasks simply by adding someone to a card. By way of example, if we add a card for an upcoming educational program, we can add the education committee members to this card so they can begin organizing the event. Once the agenda, syllabus, and any additional materials have been compiled, these documents can be attached to the card for everyone to see. To see recent activity, simply check the activity feed to know what your team has been up to while you were logged off. Once a task is completed, you are able to archive that card.

Trello is your one stop shop for project organization. Provided, of course, that these projects are relatively simple and straightforward. Trello does not have instant messaging, and it does not have built-in document editing. For heavy-duty projects, like writing legal briefs, preparing exhibits for deposition or trial, or reviewing medical records with an expert, Trello will not serve those needs.

For basic to-dos and team collaboration on tasks, Trello could be one of your go-to services. What makes me really fall in love with Trello is how seamless it is across platforms. From my PC, to my iPhone, to my iPad, Trello is not only updated and uniform, but also glitch-free and optimized in all forms. Naturally, it’s also available on Android and they have an app for Windows 8. Trello also has an option to upgrade and integrate with business tools, like SalesForce. I’ve been using the free version and find it useful, with plenty of functionality for what we need. But I can imagine, when implemented for larger, more sophisticated teams, the business version would be an excellent upgrade.

For now, I’m delighted that Trello has reduced the emails flying into my inbox, made it so much easier to track the activities our board members are organizing, and created a central location for all of our documents.

I’d love to hear from any lawyers who have found Trello useful in their practice!

About Victoria Santoro

Victoria Santoro
Victoria Santoro is an attorney at Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow, P.C. in Boston, Massachusetts. Victoria litigates cases on behalf of injured people, handling a variety of different types of cases including wrongful death, general liability and medical malpractice. Extremely active in the legal community, Victoria serves on the Board of Directors of the Young Lawyers Division, and on various committees at the Massachusetts Bar Association. She’s also a member of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and the Women’s Bar Association. Victoria, a graduate of Wesleyan University and Boston College Law School, was voted a Super Lawyers Rising Star in her first year of eligibility. An avid writer, Victoria contributes to several blogs, including her own website, The Limber Lawyer, where she frequently tackles work-life balance issues. You can reach Victoria at vsantoro@meehanboyle.com. You can follow The Limber Lawyer on Twitter here.

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  • Michael J. Polk

    I don’t use it so much for project management per se as I do keeping track of my workflow. It helps me focus on moving things from left to right (to the done/bill column). I also have a love hate relationship with the card aging feature.