Regardless of firm size, calendaring-related malpractice continues to be a major source of anxiety amongst legal professionals, making tighter calendaring a good way to avoid malpractice claims. 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 enormously costly for law firms, with the average malpractice claim in the some states costing as high as $100,000. Interestingly, malpractice claims hit small firms particularly hard—according to the ABA’s Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims study, 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. 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?
Enter technology. 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 synced across to your Google or Outlook calendars, or imported into iCal, ensuring you never miss a notification.
It may 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. With the expectation that modern professionals always be connected, the valid excuses (if they ever existed) for missed court deadlines are rapidly dwindling. By using the tools and technology available, modern law firms will be able to make missed deadlines and resulting malpractice a thing of the past.
For more guidance on how to grow your firm, utilize Clio resources such as synced court calendaring – which also syncs with your existing and Google calendars. Try it free today with a trial, and catch up with our free webinar on 10 more Malpractice Traps and the Tools to avoid them.