Calendars are indispensable tools to attorneys. Whether they are paper or electronic, an accurate calendar ensures that the attorney is on time with everything. Calendars are so important that we have added a rules-based calendaring system to the NuLaw legal practice management software.
Rules-based calendaring is widely used throughout the legal industry. However, its fundamental principles are not exclusive to the practice of law. Anyone who regularly schedules certain events that, upon execution, trigger the scheduling of new events can benefit from rules-based calendaring.
The big difference in the practice of law is how critical this sort of calendaring system is. Rules-based calendaring is so critical that any software developer working on a new legal practice management package wouldn’t even think about not including it.
How It Works
Rules-based calendaring is fairly simple in principle. You start with a known set of tasks or events that can be entered into an electronic calendar. Next, you create rules for each of those tasks or events. The rules state that the completion of each task or event triggers the next task or event in line.
The goal here is to automatically schedule new tasks and events based on when others are completed. This is critically important in the practice of law because designated tasks and events do not always occur on the same day of the week or month. Scheduling in the legal world is a cascading affair in which one particular task or event may depend on several others that occurred before it.
For example, you might file a deposition which then requires follow-up documentation to be filed within 30 days. A properly programmed rules-based calendar system would include a rule to automatically schedule the follow-up documentation as soon as the deposition task is completed. You would then receive reminders in the days leading up to the next round of documentation to ensure that it is filed on time.
Attorneys Must Not Be Late
So why is rules-based calendaring so critical? Because attorneys must never be late. Law is one profession in which strict deadlines are truly strict. If an attorney misses an important court date, for example, it could do irreparable harm to his or her reputation.
Furthermore, missing certain deadlines can lead to litigation against the attorney. It could lead to cases being thrown out or adjudicated in such a way as to be harmful to the attorney and client. The point is that attorneys cannot afford to not be on top of their calendars. Everything must be done on time, every time.
Software Makes It Easier
Some may argue that a software calendaring system is neither necessary nor advisable. They maintain that the attorney ought to be able to effectively handle calendaring using a paper calendar and a pen. That may be true, but attorneys also don’t need cars. They can travel to the courthouse on horseback if they want to.
Legal practice management software is a tool like anything else. And one with built-in calendaring just makes it simpler for attorneys to keep track of every deadline and its associated tasks and events. To say that relying on software and its rules-based calendaring to keep track of things demonstrates an inability to do one’s job is to ignore the benefits of technology in every area of life.
From our perspective, a rules-based calendaring system built-in to a firm’s legal practice management solution is a no-brainer. Rules-based calendaring leverages the power of automation to improve efficiency, guarantee accuracy, and reduce missed deadlines. Why an attorney would still manage a calendar on paper is beyond us.