Taking the Law Into Your Own Handheld: Deadlines on Demand
BY Kerrie Spencer
Can Deadlines on Demand help prevent firms from missing crucial deadlines?
Attorneys at a busy law office know the results of a missed deadline. It’s a demon that can keep you up at night. Is the brief scheduled to be submitted on the right day? Were court days counted, not calendar days? Calculating each deadline requires knowledge of various rules and codes. With more than one deadline, scheduling a legal calendar can be a onerous. Using a paper calendar offers many pitfalls. Lose that calendar or enter something in the wrong day, and a lawsuit may surface later.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), calendar deadline-related mistakes are the number one cause of legal malpractice claims. In fact, 16.63 percent of legal malpractice claims between 2008 and 2011 were the result of a law office not responding to or knowing what needed to be done with the court calendar. Of that 16.63 percent, 5.19 percent represented failure to calendar an event properly, 4.35 percent resulted because no one reacted to the court calendar and 7.09 percent were claims for failure to ascertain or know a deadline.
Dates for court-related events must be set with complete accuracy. Smaller firms not familiar with matters outside their specific jurisdiction miss deadlines most often, but larger firms are also at risk for scheduling inaccuracies. A dizzying array of calendar products are available; take the time to research your options to find a solution suited to your firm’s requirements.
One of the first things a managing partner must decide when choosing calendaring software is how it will be used and by whom. Firms must also find a program that offers an intuitive interface, integrates with existing systems, can be accessed online by mobile attorneys, is licensed as a rule-based system and manages the firm’s risks by offering detailed audit trails and reports. Once in place, the system should be regularly maintained, and all staff and attorneys using it should receive certified training.
The calendering software Deadlines on Demand, powered by CompuLaw, attempts to address these issues. Deadlines on Demand eliminates the need to choose calendar dates manually. The software employs court rules in various jurisdictions to pick the correct deadlines. An attorney can enter an event, and the system automatically figures out the deadline, using applicable rules and codes. The rules are automatically adjusted for local, state and federal holidays.
Deadlines on Demand also keeps attorneys apprised of rule changes. If a rule applicable to your jurisdiction and case changes, the system sends an email notification with a link to update deadlines. The software also allows you to change jurisdictions with a few simple clicks: choose the case, click on the jurisdiction link and make necessary updates.
If you need to alter a case deadline manually, the system includes a simple editing function. When a deadline is manually changed, Deadlines on Demand will recalculate other applicable deadlines to reflect the update. You may also add notes to deadlines with the User Notes option and easily close a case at any time.
While attorneys should still know how to calculate court-related dates manually, having software that automatically determines dates based on jurisdiction and court rules can help protect your firm from the risk of malpractice suits.
Deadlines on Demand offers an online calendar with monthly, weekly and daily view options. It also syncs with Outlook. When Outlook Sync is in use, your deadlines show in your Outlook Calendar, and Deadlines on Demand sends automatic email reminders as deadlines approach. Non-Outlook users can import iCalendar files into compatible calendar programs on both Apple and PC platforms. Deadlines also allows you to generate reports using multiple filters, such as event or date range, which can be printed or emailed.
Pricing for Deadlines on Demand is calculated per case. All plans allow unlimited users. Users can sync files for specific cases with their calendars, allowing multiple attorneys to use the software without accumulating unnecessary or intrusive notifications. The more cases a firm schedules per month, the lower the cost per case. For one case a month, the cost is $25 per case. Pricing then drops to $20 per case for two to five cases, $15 per case for 10-29 cases and $10 per case for 30 cases and over. Custom pricing is available for firms scheduling more than 100 cases monthly.
No matter how well organized a law office may be, there is always the chance of missing something. For those tempted to try Deadlines on Demand, free monthly training webinars are available, and Deadlines is compatible with MacBook, Safari, iPhone and Apple Computer’s browser.
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