Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Falling in Love With the Statute of Limitations

fall in loveDeadlines are our friends.

They are here to help us. They don’t want to cause trouble. They want us to succeed.

You may not think about deadlines this way, if you think about them at all. You might consider them necessary nuisances, like taxes and dental exams, nothing you feel any fondness for.

But I say thank goodness for deadlines. They bail me out of potential disaster all the time.

Without them, my procrastination would run rampant. I’d remain on the couch surfing Netflix, fully intending to get up and start work any minute now, just one more Daredevil episode. This is where the legal ability to rationalize comes in handy. I tell myself I’m strategizing. I need to relax in order to think outside the box. I need to ponder all the angles, get the big picture. Netflix helps with all that.

It’s a nice feeling, knowing you’ve got the luxury of 30 days of getting the big picture before you actually have to do something. Sometimes you have as long as a year. Which leaves plenty of time for Netflix.

Climbing From the Pit of Procrastination

What shakes me out of the grip of procrastination is fear. I start thinking about what will happen if I blow a deadline or miss an appointment. All the dire consequences. A nugget of terror forms in my brain. It grows and grows the more Netflix I watch, until at last the adrenaline kicks in and I become a whirlwind of activity.

Usually, this occurs at the last minute, which requires all-nighters and flinging papers and being unpleasant company as the clock winds down.

It is a prescription for madness – not to mention State Bar complaints and malpractice claims.

Lawyers Mutual Can Help

Lawyers Mutual offers forms, checklists and practice guides to help you manage your important dates and deadlines.

From the company’s Calendar and Docket Toolkit: “[T]he most frequent cause of a malpractice claim continues to be a missed statute of limitation or other deadline. These cases can be frustrating because there is very rarely a defense for the error. The error could have easily been avoided by the proper use of a calendaring system. The goal is to create a calendaring system that is reliable, efficient and user-friendly. An effective system includes all of the work in the office and all of the time out of the office, such as holidays and vacations.”

When it comes to calendaring, Lawyers Mutual says the simpler, the better.

“A complicated system that is difficult to operate will not benefit your practice. Your system will only be as good as the information entered into it, so it is imperative that you find a calendaring system that everyone finds simple to use. If entering the data into the system feels burdensome, staff may tend to put it aside for other tasks and accidents may happen.”

Key elements of a good system include:

  • Centralization
  • Redundancy
  • Universal participation
  • Back-up
  • Tickler systems
  • Perpetual calendaring
  • Advance warning
  • Daily and weekly deadline lists

If you need help, contact Lawyers Mutual’s client services team for more guidance. But remember: any calendaring system is better than none at all. So do something.

It’s a good feeling to meet an important deadline on time – or even better, early. It relieves unnecessary stress. It deserves a reward, like a little Netflix.

Source: Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of North Carolina http://files.lawyersmutualnc.com/risk-management-resources/risk-management-handouts/social-media-toolkit/Calendar_and_Docket.pdf

About the Author

Jay Reeves

jay.reeves@ymail.com | 919-619-2441

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Over the course of his 35-year career he was a solo practitioner, corporate lawyer, legal editor, Legal Aid staff attorney and insurance risk manager. Today he helps lawyers and firms put more mojo in their practice through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations.

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