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Calendar management continues to be a major source of anxiety among legal professionals — with good reason.
Calendar-related errors are the leading cause of malpractice actions against lawyers, accounting for more than a full third of all malpractice claims. Missed deadlines, filing dates, and court appearances attributed either to procrastination, failure to maintain an up-to-date calendar, or user error when adding calendar entries can be incredibly costly for law firms, with the average malpractice claim in the some states costing as high as $100,000.
Malpractice claims hit small firms particularly hard — according to the most recent Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims study prepared the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Responsibility, more than 70 percent of all claims are filed against firms with five or fewer attorneys.
The problems arise from court calendars being notoriously unwieldy and prone to error. Cases have multiple procedural rules creating different deadlines. With every change and delay in a case, those deadlines have to be recalculated, over and over again. Many of today’s calendaring solutions fail to account for legal-specific requirements. Manually calculating and entering specific dates and deadlines for each matter is laborious and time-consuming, and the risk of mistake grows exponentially with each matter a firm is handling. Did you really attend law school and spend years building your practice to watch everything slip away due to a simple calendaring error?
Technology can help. With increasingly sophisticated calendaring options available to busy attorneys, expensive malpractice claims can now be mitigated, if not entirely avoided. Features like Clio’s Court Rules remove human error from the equation — by utilizing the feature, attorneys can simply choose a trigger event and select their court from a list of available options, and the firm calendar will be automatically populated with all relevant deadline dates based on the court’s rules. These crucial dates can then be accessed from within your practice management software, synced across your Google or Outlook calendars, or imported into iCal, ensuring you never miss a notification. Calendar entries can be shared with individuals or teams both internally and externally, simplifying collaboration and keeping stakeholders aware.
The human element. It can also be beneficial to your firm to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and a designated workflow regarding court calendar management. This will help to avoid dates not being entered due to confusion over responsibility and keep employees accountable in the event of a missed event. Assign one team member to entering dates for teams working on a case, and have another teammate double-check those calendar entries for accuracy.
With the expectation that modern professionals will always be connected, the valid excuses (if they ever existed) for missed court deadlines are rapidly dwindling. By using the tools and technology available to automate their calendaring workflow, modern law firms will be able to make missed deadlines and resulting malpractice a thing of the past.
Joshua Lenon is an attorney admitted to the New York Bar. He studied law at St. Louis University School of Law, obtaining a Juris Doctorate and a Certificate in International and Comparative Law. During this time, Joshua clerked for the Missouri Attorney General, helping prosecute discrimination claims on behalf of Missouri citizens. Joshua has since helped legal practitioners improve their services, working for Thomson Reuters’ publishing departments in both the United States and Canada. Joshua currently serves as Lawyer-in-Residence for Clio, providing legal scholarship and research skills to the leading cloud-based practice management platform.
Clio is the most comprehensive cloud-based practice management platform for the legal industry. With the help of the cloud, Clio eases the process of calendaring, time tracking, billing, administration, and collaboration for law firms of all sizes.
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