Has anyone done a 4 number system? Looking for tips for multiple projects from clients

Hi. I have a setup on my JD system that is say, 20-29 clients. I then divided it up into 20 (client matter types 1), 21 (client matter types 2), etc, as I already have more than 10 clients, so I can’t give them 20-29 numbers.

I have a client that I assigned 21.01. Client gives me multiple projects and each project might have multiple legal matters. The best way I came up with numbering for those projects was to start with:

101.21 (101 for project 1, 21 for client number, even though it’s technically client 21.01). I did this because I wanted to avoid the problem of having duplicate numbers with clients starting in 21.101, 21.102 and so forth.

I then put inside each of those the matters they give me for each project as 101.21.01, 101.21.02, etc.

My new filing problem: I picked up a new client that falls under category 21 as well, and is giving me multiple projects as well. Client is 21.20. I’m at a loss as to how create a filing system that doesn’t end with duplicate numbers with client 21.01. If I start numbering the projects 101.21, they’ll have the same numbers as client 21.01.

I’ve thought of giving at least one of them a different section, as I still have 28 open :-). However, I don’t want to burn the categories 20-29 until necessary.

I thought of doing a 3-4 tiered numbering system, so that project 1 for new client is, 101.21.20 (or 21.20.101), and then projects inside that one would be, (or, and so forth That could work, but 4 numbers seems like a little too much.

Does anyone here successfully use a 4 number system? Or, how do you handle your multiple projects within your clients?


Not sure I get your problem/hierarchy or Johnny’s PRO.AC.ID, but the latter should give you plenty of leeway in a lot of directions. So, you categorize the clients? (Why not) like this?

100–199 Type A Clients
        101 Client 1
            10–19 Project 1
                  11 Legal Matter 1
                     101.11.01 LM 1 stuff
                     101.11.02 More stuff
200–299 Type B Clients

Etc. pp.

And if a client falls into two categories you could just create reference in your JD index (eg. 211 Client 1 -> see 101 Client 1).

Just an idea. But like I said, maybe I misunderstood the problem.

Thanks for writing. I see what you’re saying. I think it’s a function of how I set up my numbers. I might have to redo them to solve the issue.

My setup is the following:
20-29 Clients

20 - Type A Clients
20.01 - Large Client 1
101.20- Legal Project 1
101.20.01 - Legal Matter 1 for this project
102.20.01 - Legal Matter 2 for this project

20.02 - Large Client 2
101.20 - Legal Project 1.
101.20.02 Legal Matter 1 for this project.
102.20.02 Legal Matter 2 for this project.
21 Type B Clients

21.01 Type B Client 1
21.02 Type B Client 2

  1. Type C Clients

  2. Type D Clients

The issue is that I don’t want the repeated legal project numbers, as you can imagine. I thought of doing something like

101.20.01 Legal Project 1 for Large Client 1 Legal Matter 1 for Legal Project 1.

So, I was wondering how others number situations like this, or some kind of workable 4 digit system. Does that clarify what I’m trying to say?

Thanks again!

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I’ve been tinkering with the setup. This is the best I’ve come up with so far.

Since I’ve been numbering clients within the same client number with a decimal number, I thought the most practical thing is to do a set up of PRO.Last 2 digits of client.ID.

However, right now I run the risk of having duplicates again if I use the same setup in another category, say 23. And that’s where my system get stuck, because my JD number for the project doesn’t include the category. That’s why I thought about doing a 4 digit number, so it would be and and so forth. Although I avoid duplicates, the 4 numbering system seems long.

Here is another screenshot with sample names of what each sub-folder has, in case it helps readers of the post think through it.

If you have any suggestions to improve this, I’m all ears.

I forgot to mention that I do like your setup. However, how do you account for a client that gives you more than 9 projects? For example, I have 1 client with over 20 projects, with each project having somewhere between 1 to 5 matters. How do you number, say, project 11, in this setup?

No, indeed—that’s definitely an achilles heel of my suggestion. :sweat_smile::man_shrugging:t3:

Well, another thought: Do you really need the client type in the JD hierarchy? It seems to be the kind of cross-referencing thing for tags are quite apt and/or which might me done in the JD index.

Then you’d have one less “dimension” to model in the JD hierarchy and it could eg. look like this:

100–119 Client 1
        101 Project 1
            10–19 Legal Matter 1
                  11 Lots of …
                     101.11.01 … breathing room …
                     101.11.02 … down here, too
120–129 Client 2

Of course I have no idea, if 10 legal matters per project would suffice, though, or 20 Projects—you can scale the “stepping“ to your needs, I guess. :innocent:

And the hypothetical Index could look something like this:

(Sadly, Numbers does not offer a multi-select field type.)

But if you do need the client-type your current “AC.PRO.ID” approach without a doubt seems to be the better idea.

I my own experience depending on how you categorize and slice things, standard PRO.AC.ID might not be the solution in every case as it might not give you the room you need where you need it—see my own first shot at JD.

(Personally I would try to avoid four numbers, though—I find PRO.AC.ID “unwieldy” enough. But that’s just me. :man_shrugging:t3::sweat_smile:)

Thanks for writing. I’m trying to avoid the 4 number system as well. That being said, so far that’s the best option I’ve come up with, because 2 of them would be for client 22.01, say, so in that sense, it’s not 2 numbers, but just 1. (A little good cheating). :slight_smile: And, I know that with the 4 numbers, I will not have duplicates.

Technically speaking, I don’t need the client type. In fact, the issue I’m having hee is with clients in my “catch all” client area/category. I separated initially by matters because it’s an easy way for me to file them, and because for many years, I only worked 1 type of legal field, so organizing by matter came natural to me. I do have 1 area that I have to do monthly reports to the government, so I like the idea of keeping that one separate.

Before JD, I had organized client files by year. This became a nightmare when clients come back a couple of years later for a case. It would take me forever to find the files, and I eventually would end up with triplicate files. I’ve had clients that I’ve done 5-6 legal cases for them, so I could potentially have a document copied 5 times in my computer.

With JD, i organized that client area as say, 21.01 Client Name, and then each matter underneath as 101.21.01, 102.21.01, etc. I’m embarrassed to think that I couldn’t come up with this myself after all these years.

Also, although I like the idea of tags, I’m terrible at using or remembering them. For whatever reason, my brain prefers the folder structure, and this is where the JD system really picked my interest.

This is my best attempt to emulate what you’re saying. Let me know if I’m understanding you correctly.

In order to stay within the 3 number system, the best I have is not numbering the projects but nevertheless creating a “project folder” so I have them handy. I then number each matter consecutively as they come to me. So for example, I could have a 109.22.01 in the first project if it’s the 9th matter referred by that client, but it’s for the first project.

Tagging per project would work as you suggest, but I’m just not very good at tagging, so I doubt I’ll keep it up. Plus, tags don’t export as well within platforms.

I think I prefer numbering the projects because with this setup, I can identify the client (and thus, no duplicates). However, I will have to open the file to see in which folder it’s supposed to go. And, I don’t know if I’ll like seeing numbers that aren’t consecutive in each folder.

This is another screenshot showing my proposed 4 digit numbering system. I would only use it for clients like this one (of which I don’t have that many). The 4 digits does make it large. However, I like that they stay consecutive within each project folder.

This was hard sorting through all the numbers :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:, but I am just starting with JD so it helps me to learn how to apply it. I think the nomenclature you posted is a little confusing, as you have a subcategory (project number) ‘above’ the category (client.) I know the nomenclature is PRO.AC.ID, but you can assign whatever hierarchy works best for you.

It seems like what we need is a realistic breakdown of how you instinctively group your work- is broken down by client at the highest level (I would assume so but may not necessarily be the case), by project, or by types of client matters, etc.? And then what subcategories makes sense after that? And then for each category and subcategory, realistically how many numbers do you need? For example we know you have around 30 clients, maybe it will go up significantly, but probably not more than 100? And then realistically up to how many projects per client? Etc.

After that you can try to come up with a ‘tree’ and system that fits your needs. I think your needs are a little different than most as it is very client and project centered, vs. say running a business and having categories for accounting, marketing, sales, etc.

Hi. Thanks for writing. Yea, I uploaded a lot of numbers on the screenshot. :slight_smile:

The majority of my work files are in the PR:AC:ID format. I have no problems following those. The issue is with several clients I have like this one, where each project has several matters. I wrote the group looking for feedback because I can’t figure out how to avoid potential duplicates with the 3 digit system. I wanted to put a number in each project for consistency purposes, but that is wrecking the structure, since the client also has a number.

I know my screenshot was confusing, but I tried showing the project folders without numbers, and then just doing a 3 digit structure where numbers are assigned consecutively among all projects. I just fear the OCD in me will not like looking at project folders with non consecutive project numbers. I was hoping to hear feedback that will get me out of my brain rut. Hopefully I don’t drag you (or others) into a numbering muck. :slight_smile:

Ha ha, no worries I find this an interesting exercise as I start to implement my own JD system. :sunglasses:

I think I have a better grasp on the situation- it appears that you have an overall JD system encompassing other categories besides clients, and have reserved AC 20-29 for client types, and then ID’s for each client?

Are all of your other areas (30-90) taken? If the basic organization your work/workflow is by client (and then the projects for each client), it feels like they should be further up the hierarchy in your system. Instead you are shoehorning the majority of your work into 20-29- how much information/files are actually in the other categories?

It also feels weird to have a PRO number ahead of the client number, because each client has multiple projects and not vice versa- I think this is why you are running into the problem with duplicate numbers.

Hi. Yes, my 20-29 section is for client types. What I did afterwards was divide the numbers here by type of case that client has, because I have more than 9 clients, so I would have run out very quickly. So, my client list is:

20 - Clients that have Type A Cases (for example, criminal law defendants)
20.01 Criminal defendant 1
20.02 defendant 2

21 - Clients that have type B cases (for example, wills and estates)
21.01 Will client 1.
21.02 Will client 2.

22 - Clients that have Type C cases (for example, tort cases)

and so forth.

I do have open areas elsewhere in the numbering system. However, I want to do everything in my power to keep clients in the 20-29 spectrum, if only, to avoid digging around for clients across different numbers, and because I feel a need to keep numbers open so I have room to grow 3-5 years from now and I get business opportunities that don’t tightly fit my current structure.

Most of my clients have a traditional JD structure. For example, they are.

20.01 - Client 1
101.20.01 - matter 1 for client 1
102.20.01 - matter 2 for Client 1
20.02 - Client 2
101.20.02 - matter 1 for client 2.

However, I have a few clients that fit in the mold I wrote above. In those cases, think of it as:

21.01 - Client 1
XXX - Number for a general project that the client assigned to me.
101.21.01 - matters assigned by Client 1 that are for this general project.
102.21.01 - 2nd matter assigned by Client for this first General project.

I thought that by numbering the general project (which I have here as XXX), I would be able to keep a tidy JD structure and not have numbered folders inside non-numbered folders. However, I think I might be better off not putting numbers on those folders and just keeping the normal 101.21.01 case numbering structure. I’ve spent too much brainpower trying to come up with a solution. That’s why I reached out, to see if I could hear better options from others.

Hope that helps. I’m actually really enjoying the JD structure. It’s really helped me organize my work and I spent a lot less time thinking where to save files and searching for them afterwards. Plus, I used to be really good at math and memorizing numbers, and using the JD system has awaken those muscles from a deep sleep, so I’ve actually really liked being able to remember numbers and think within numerical structures again.

One thing to note is that for Johnny’s projects where he adds the 3 digit project number, each of those are actually separate indexes from the general 2 number AC.ID system. That’s why there’s no weird overlaps. There’s only a single 101 for example that is the top of its hierarchy, whereas for you its the other way around.

How about reserving say 21-69 all for clients, and consolidate the rest for other categories? (or just use 11-59 or whatever.) You can have areas by tens if it’s useful to break out clients by type, or just start at 21 and just go up from there for each client. That would give you 45 spots for existing and future clients (if that’s enough), and then each project would be an ID number underneath the AC number for the client.

Another (I think better) way would be to have 2 separate AC.ID indexing systems- one only for clients (that you could prefix with ‘C’ or ‘CL’) that could accommodate almost 100 clients, and another for other general work related stuff (that would be prefixed with ‘G’ or ‘GE’). I think your main problem is trying to fit almost all of your actual work content into a single area of numbers 21-29, which then forces you to use 3 or even 4 number systems.

So any number I give you would be easy to interpet- C45.12 would be Client 45, project 12. The General index would then have more standard categories like in the JD examples, so G22.04 would be say Receivables (Sales being 21-29), and whatever thing ID 04 represents.

Yesssss! This makes me very happy.

What I’ve done is sort of an odd hybrid of some of the systems mentioned above. My decimal system spans personal, main job, 3 side projects, 2 volunteer gigs . . . . .

My firm (I’m one of 12 attorneys) uses a four digit client file numbering system. Until I get easy cloud access to the firm document storage, I save a lot of client stuff on a portable SSD that my assistant moves into the firm system .

The way I’ve separated things out Is with a 3.2 system overall and a 4.3.2 system for my client files. For example - 100-199 are for personal files, 200-299 are for firm files, etc.

So, 130 is personal financial, 230 is client financial, etc.

From there, things diverge a bit between the “projects” based on the differences between each. 132 is personal tax deductions, 232 is Account information

What I wind up with is that 132.11 is where all of my year end credit card summaries are stored 132.12 is charitable receipts, etc.

9999.232.11 is the checking account information for client 9999

1234.232.11 is the checking account information for client 1234, etc.