Deadlines matter to lawyers. However, within the busyness of a daily practice it can be easy for these deadlines to become lost, resulting in rushed work or even missed deadline.
When this is a court or a statute deadline, the consequences can be significant. So how can lawyers ensure that they keep on top of multiple deadlines for multiple projects?
Why legal deadlines matter so much
In many industries, missing a deadline is an issue that can be resolved – for example, the US government has missed their budget deadline and shut down the government a massive 19 times since 1976!
For a lawyer, however, a missed statute or other deadline can have significant consequences. Consequences for the client, who has permanently lost the ability to fight their case; and consequences for the lawyer, who open themselves up to a malpractice suit incurring significant financial, time and reputational costs.
There can be many reasons why deadlines can be missed. One of the most vulnerable points for an organisation is when an employee suddenly leaves, or becomes unexpectedly ill. When each employee has their own method of managing their files, remaining workers must try to decipher someone else’s system whilst still managing a full case load. It’s no wonder that details get missed, and costly mistakes happen.
How can technology help?
- Use a case management system to store deadline dates
Within a case management system, file information is standardised. This means that employees can go into any case file within the software, and know exactly where to find relevant deadlines. Important dates will no longer be hidden within huge paper files and missed.
- View all your case deadlines in one place
Within Thread Legal, file deadlines can all be viewed within one window. Filter by deadline type or by file owner. Managers can see which employees have high or low volumes of deadlines within a period, and can allocate resource accordingly.
- Manage your workflows
Preparation for a deadline doesn’t (or shouldn’t!) begin when it is imminent . Set up workflows and assign tasks for common procedures to each member of the team. These individual tasks should have their own deadlines.
This means that capacity problems, or other issues that are preventing work from being completed, are identified in real time rather than days or weeks later. Case owners and managers can see where cases are entering the risk zone, and can resolve the timeline slip before it becomes critical.
Our workflow management systems within Thread Legal are powered by Microsoft Planner.
What should I do next?
Many lawyers feel like they don’t have time to source and implement new technology, and so the practice keeps on running the same way that it always has. However, this leaves law firms and legal teams still exposed to the same vulnerabilities that they have always faced.
There are a lot of ways that case management systems can provide ROI – reducing vulnerability to malpractice suits caused by missed deadlines may be a less tangible ROI, but it is nonetheless significant.
It is worth setting aside time to explore different case management solutions, and determining which would be the best fit for you and your organisation. It’s never too soon to start implementing your organisation’s digital transformation!
Do you want to see if Thread Legal could be a good fit for your business? Click here to start exploring our key features.