Hate missing deadlines? Here's what you ought to know about court-rules-based calendaring software
For lawyers—and especially litigators—deadlines are the bane of their existence. Whether it’s statutes of limitations, filing or discovery deadlines, the ebb and flow of lawyers’ days is controlled by upcoming due dates, both near and far removed in time.
Before digital calendaring systems, lawyers tracked their own deadlines on paper calendars with law firmwide tickler systems in place for particularly important drop-dead dates, such as statutes of limitations. Then, with electronic calendars, it became easier than ever for lawyers to enter and visualize their due dates.
But truly versatile and accessible calendaring systems weren’t available until the arrival of cloud-based online calendars. Suddenly, lawyers had 24/7 access to their calendars from any internet-enabled device in a format that was inherently flexible and intuitive.
The addition of court-rules-based calendaring features makes online calendars all the more useful. This calendar feature automatically applies the court rules and statutory deadlines of specific jurisdictions to the due dates of a particular matter at the start of a case. No need to manually enter deadlines: Rules-based calendaring systems do this for you.
Many lawyers are familiar with rules-based calendaring tools since a number of old-school premise-based law practice management software programs included rules-based calendaring features. But in this series of columns on legal software, I’m focusing on cloud-based software since all software is headed in that direction, and even the most traditional software providers are transitioning many of their products to cloud-based solutions.
One notable benefit of cloud-based, rules-based calendaring tools is that because the data is housed on the software provider’s cloud servers, there’s no need to download new files when court rules change. Instead, the court rules are regularly updated on the back end, and the changes then are automatically applied to your firm’s calendars.
So, without further ado, here are some of your options when it comes to rules-based calendaring tools. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all inclusive but provides a good overview of the products that are currently available.
With rules-based calendaring software, you have three choices: You can use: 1) stand-alone rules-based calendaring software, 2) law practice management software that integrates with one of the standalone tools, or 3) legal practice management software with built-in rules-based calendaring.
First and foremost, when choosing a rules-based calendaring tool, you’ll have to determine whether the software you’re considering includes the calendar rules for the courts and jurisdictions that are relevant to your firm. Next, ensure that the tool works with the calendar system used by your law firm. If the answer to either question is no, then you can rule it out from the get-go.
Now, on to two of the most well-known stand-alone rules-based calendaring tools for lawyers: LawToolBox and CalendarRules. Both integrate with Outlook calendars. LawToolBox is also offered as an add-in for Microsoft Office 365 and syncs with Google Calendar and iCal.
As a stand-alone option, CalendarRules typically provides annual pricing, and according to its website, the average per court costs range “from $132/yr. to $300/yr., depending on the number and type of courts in the subscription. … There are also discounted packages available based on state or other volume discounts.”
Pricing for LawToolBox as a stand-alone tool is offered on a per-matter or per-user basis. The initial cost is $49 per matter for matters set up during the first two weeks and then $69 per matter thereafter. Per-user pricing ranges from $19 per month to $39 per month. The price per user decreases as more users are added to the account, and annual pricing costs less than month-by-month pricing.
Both LawToolBox and CalendarRules integrate with a wide range of law practice management software programs. If integration with your firm’s practice management software is important, integration compatibility may be the deciding factor for your firm.
Another factor to keep in mind when researching integration options is price. Depending on how the integration is set up and priced, you may have to either pay subscription fees for both the calendaring software and the practice management software, or you may be required to pay a higher subscription cost for the practice management software to have access to the rules-based calendaring software. So it’s important to carefully research the applicable fees and integration costs when vetting the integrations with law practice management software.
Finally, you may want to choose a law practice management software program with built-in rules-based calendaring features. If that’s the case, one options to consider is Thomson Reuters’ Firm Central, which includes Deadline Assistant, a tool that calculates deadlines based on your chosen jurisdiction and adds them to your Firm Central and Outlook calendars. Firm Central offers tiered pricing, and access to Deadline Assistant is available in the top tier, which costs $105 per user per month.
So if you’re in the market for a rules-based calendaring system in the cloud, those are some of your options. Depending on your law firm’s needs, one of them is sure to fit the bill.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York, attorney, author, journalist and a legal technology specialist at MyCase, legal practice management software for solo and small-firm lawyers. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers, and she co-authored Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier. She also co-authored Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson West treatise. She writes regular columns for ABAJournal.com, The Daily Record, Above the Law and Legal IT Pros; has authored hundreds of articles; and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile and cloud computing, and internet-based technology. Follow her on Twitter @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].