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One of the most challenging aspects of working in the legal profession is the balancing act of court rules and deadlines. Attorneys are typically practicing in more than one jurisdiction or a support staff member is juggling the calendars for entire teams of lawyers. This is how dates end up miscalculated, events missed or court rules such as copies of documents sent to a judge’s chambers are completely forgotten. This is also how common malpractice claims are brought before law firms.
For example, if I practice in the Northern District of Ohio according to Rule 7026-1, ‘No discovery dispute shall be brought to the attention of a Judge and no motion to compel may be files more than 14 days after the discovery cut-off’. Whereas in the Northern District of California, rule 37-3 defines discovery cut ‘Where the Court has set separate deadlines for fact and expert discovery, no motions to compel fact discovery may be filed more than 7 days after the fact discovery cut-off…’ Each of these key details will vary based on where the case has been filed and where attorneys practice. If one was assisting an attorney who practices in both states it is easy to see how a mistake could occur.
Usually practice management software offers some assistance with the ability to categorize events or develop workflows to automate the calendaring process. Building onto the practice management solution court rules and procedures takes the guesswork out of docketing and delivers an all in one solution.
Below, I review three Practice Management system that include seamless, real-time integration with court rules-based calendaring. To find out if your Practice Management system offers this capability (usually in the form of an add-on), contact your Certified Consultant.
Clio Elite Package
The recent release of Clio’s Elite plan allows for court rules to be integrated directly into your case management tool. Firms can select up to 10 jurisdictions to configure specific court rules along with unlimited updates to this list should you need to remove or switch a jurisdiction. Built directly into your Clio office the firm can now guarantee scheduling is added right around court events.
The Elite package includes action items such as adding service type, existing triggers and update the rules live. Right from your Clio office you can quickly add court rules to calendar events and existing or new matters. A drop-down list will spark a common search trigger for your jurisdiction as you begin to type. You can now view the rules set right from the matter or edit, delete or update any events as needed. Keeping your cases on track and obeying court rules is simplified with Clio’s court rules integration. You can learn more here and get a free trial of Clio here.
Another standout product to assist law firms with tackling court rules is called LawToolBox. LawToolBox offers numerous rule sets for federal courts, state and even some international calculations. Integration is one of their perks with the ability to collaborate with Time Matters, Firm Manager, PCLaw or Amicus via Outlook, Google, Office365 and many more.
In addition to the rule sets, LawToolBox also offers case management tools with a forms bank, track changes on deadlines and case reports. There is also a build your own rule set feature allowing for firms to customize internal client or attorney deadlines. When a court’s rule has updated it will automatically update your existing events with the new deadline. I recommend contacting their team to check out a product demonstration.
Firm Central’s Deadline Assistant
Firm Central a cloud based legal practice management tool offered by Thomson Reuters allows for firms to build court date calculations directly into their cloud-based practice management solution. The Deadline Assistant feature makes applying federal, state and local court rules a breeze and even includes options for Arbitration and Foreign Trademark Rules. A nice perk is the ability to link directly with WestLaw should you need to review the full text of the rule. Firm Central also has email alerts automatically generated should a court rule change.
Icons appear on your calendar allowing for the user generated events to stand out in comparison to the rules based ones and increasing communication within the office. Also included is the audit log for always keeping track of who has updated or moved deadlines. Deadline Assistant within Firm Central will save firms from any confusion when docketing court rules.
Pricing on the three solutions we featured today will also depend on your case management or practice management software needs. Each of these is a cloud based product meaning additional equipment costs are likely not needed.
Clio’s court calendaring rules are available on their Elite package at $99/per user and per month. This elite package will include the entire Clio suite along with other key features and functions such as priority support, advanced reporting and API access.
The LawToolBox pricing allows for firms with a 1-time lawsuit fee or long term monthly subscriptions. The lawsuit only rates are at $49 or $69 per case depending on your timeframe. The monthly model will vary based on caseload with $99/month for up to 20 active firm matters and $149/month for larger firms with up to 30 active matters. Custom price quotes can also be provided along with a calendar sync fee if firms would rather pay monthly per calendar.
Both Clio and LawToolBox rely on CalendarRules (CRC) to build and monitor court rules. When rules change the triggers and updates are tested in a staging environment before being included in the subscription. As the court begins observing the new rule procedures your system is automatically updated using their RealTime Rules technology.
Firm Central’s pricing will include the Deadline Assistant and cost $40/month per user with an additional $25/month should you also need a Time and Billing component. I recommend trying the free trials available with each of these programs.
When discussing court rules, I always think of the support staff that when given a 60-day extension begins counting squares on their monthly desk calendars. This is just screaming ‘room for error’ and truly puts your firm at risk for malpractice. Just imagine the weight off your shoulders when trusting a solution to calculate court deadlines. Clio, Firm Central and LawToolBox each bring legal knowledge of court rules to your existing case management tools. The old adage ‘work smarter, not harder’ rings true when using court rule solutions to calendar.