Missed deadlines only happen to bad lawyers, right?
Wrong. Even the best of attorneys can miss an important date or deadline. It happens because the attorney is stressed, distracted, or too busy. It happens because the calendaring system is inadequate. And sometimes, it just happens.
“The most frequent cause of a malpractice claim continues to be a missed statute of limitation or other deadline,” says Lawyers Mutual. “These cases can be frustrating because there is very rarely a defense for the error.”
You can lower your malpractice risk by raising your Calendar and Docket IQ (C.A.D. IQ).
Take the following true-or-false quiz to measure your C.A.D. IQ!
C.A.D. IQ Questions
- A law firm calendaring system should include only office work, not personal dates and outside obligations (True or False).
- Everyone in the office should maintain their own calendar (True or False).
- All attorneys and staff in the firm must participate in the calendaring system – no exceptions. (True or False).
- The calendar should be stored in one place only (True or False).
- Your calendaring system should include a system to tickle deadlines and file reviews (True or False).
- Everyone should be trained on how to use the calendaring system, even those who might not use it regularly (True or False).
- Designate only one employee as a calendar clerk and have a backup clerk in the event of an absence (True or False).
- The calendar clerk should distribute reports regularly (True or False).
- Calendar Notices are essential to a well-operated calendaring system (True or False).
- Your professional liability insurance carrier can be a valuable partner in helping you implement an effective calendaring system (True or False).
C.A.D. IQ Answers
- False. “All time must be accounted for in the calendaring system. Any time away from the office should be scheduled through this system, such as holidays, CLE events and vacation. Prepare for extended time away from the office by designating a backup attorney who would handle any emergency that may arise while you are not available.”
- False. “A centralized calendar system keeps the firm’s system running smoothly by having everyone’s information on one calendar.”
- True. “The only way the system can be effective is if all members of the firm participate. All partners, department heads, or even the solo lawyer should routinely monitor their system to verify that it is used universally and data is properly entered.”
- False. “Backups are helpful in the case of a system malfunction, but other options are available to provide instant access to information. Personal data assistants (PDAs) and smart phones, such as the iPhone or Blackberry, provide a portable secondary version of your calendar. Desktop calendars are also useful as a redundant system, readily accessible in the event of a system failure.”
- True. “Every law firm’s calendaring system should include a system to tickle deadlines and file reviews. These tickle dates should include a reminder notice before the actual event so that enough time is allotted to complete the work before it is due. For file reviews, one reminder notice is sufficient. Deadlines for approaching statutes of limitation, filings, discovery, and other work-intensive activities should have multiple reminders to ensure timely completion before the event date.”
- True. “When the system is implemented, all attorneys and staff must use it for it to work effectively. A complete description of the calendaring system and rules for its enforcement should be included in the firm’s Office Procedures Manual.”
- True. “The calendar clerk will be responsible for inputting data from intake forms and calendar notices and distributing weekly reports to attorneys and staff for review. The calendar clerk will have the capability of changing the priority of an entry in the system should the need arise.”
- True. “Weekly reports should be distributed on Friday for the following week’s deadlines. Daily calendars should be distributed at the end of the day to allow appropriate notice for any scheduled appointments or hearings first thing in the morning.”
- True. “Having notices that attorneys and staff can complete and forward to the calendar clerk for entry alleviates the danger of a lost post-it note with a crucial deadline jotted down during a conversation.”
- True. Lawyers Mutual has lots of resources to help raise your C.A.D. IQ, such as this Calendar and Docket Control Practice Guide.