I was in another lawyer’s office the other day. There was not a single file nor paper in sight. Her desk was gleamingly naked save for a cup with pencils in it. The pencils were point up and freshly sharpened to exactly the same height. On the sidebar (yes, she had a sidebar), there were bottles of water on a tray with a glass pitcher full of crystal ice cubes. The coffee cups had the firm logo imprinted on them. I had the feeling if I looked closely enough, the ice cubes would too.

A clean desk indicates its owner has an organized mind and a disciplined approach to cases. After all, the practice of law is an obsessive compulsive type of job. You must pay careful attention to detail, deadlines and words.

There is another lawyer I know well who, despite his best efforts, has a rather messy office. It is filled with memorabilia, pictures, knick knacks and bric-a-bracs. There are papers and files all over his desk. These spill onto the floor which he uses as a filing system.

He reminds me of the clerk in the W.C. Fields movie who gets fired because of his rolltop desk over-stuffed with papers. But they have to hire him back when they can’t find an important contract. He sticks the point of his pencil into the stack of papers at the exactly the right place and pulls out the contract.

This lawyer with the messy desk is so good that he is in much demand. His file clerk cannot keep up with the files of clients clamoring for his time. His messy desk is the sign of a creative mind. He is unconventional and thinks outside the box. His creative solutions benefit his many clients.

Come visit my office sometime.  Here, let me just move that stack of papers.