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Last updated: May 2022
*Prices and program features are current at the time of publication.
Limitations are the bane of many lawyers’ existence. Calendaring errors and missed limitation deadlines are a leading cause of professional negligence claims.
These mistakes are expensive, time-consuming, lead to dissatisfied clients and are damaging to professional reputations.
The good news is that these errors can generally be avoided with the help of a well-constructed limitations system. Limitations software assists lawyers in organizing and monitoring deadlines. For more information about what to look for, visit this companion article.
In the past, lawyers would write out the relevant limitation date for a new file and give it to an assistant. The assistant would enter the dates into a physical diary or calendar.
Every morning, the assistant would pull that day’s cards and give the relevant files to the primary lawyer working on them. If the assistant or lawyer was sick, busy, or simply forgot, there was a real risk of missed deadlines. Sometimes the physical file could not be found, and the deadline would pass unnoticed. The process was unwieldy and prone to errors.
This approach has largely been replaced with more modern practice management systems that support firms’ operations rather than hinder them.
A physical calendar can still serve as a backup, but the use of electronic calendaring has become standard.
Software designed to track limitations
There are several products on the market purpose-built to help lawyers track limitations and deadlines. These products include:
- an interface that minimizes data entry mistakes and redundant data;
- a simplified routine process; and
- a reminder system that spans multiple years.
MatterAlert is a docketing and calendar system designed for mid-sized firms of 20 lawyers and more.
MatterAlert features a “Matter Dashboard” where team members can view and update all critical matter-related information in one centralized location.
An unlimited number of reminders can be setup for each event or appointment. MatterAlert produces in-dashboard, email and calendar reminder notifications that are synced with each user’s Outlook calendar and are automatically adjusted when the date of an event changes.
Consolidated reports are automatically generated and list all of a lawyer’s deadlines by day, week or month. The reports can be distributed to specified individuals or groups.
Team members can be assigned different permission levels to edit or delete reminders. A full audit log tracks all changes.
MatterAlert allows for automatic escalation of missed deadlines. A key timekeeper (e.g. the lawyer supervising a file or a department lead) can be designated to receive notifications when important tasks are due and the required action is not taken.
Since the team working on a file may change over time, a docketing manager lets lawyers add or remove team members for future appointments and tasks.
The app functions with any browser and accommodates all operating systems. Data can be stored in the cloud or on premises according to a firm’s preferences.
Pricing: MatterAlert is available by monthly and annual subscriptions, starting at USD$20/user/month, with a minimum of 50 users. There is a one-time installation fee of USD$2,000.
Remindex allows lawyers to create client-specific templates to automatically calculate reminder dates for various areas of law and limitation periods. Email reminders are sent automatically to the respective lawyers.
If a lawyer does not respond to a reminder or misses a deadline, many limitations packages will automatically escalate the reminder to a designated team lead or another lawyer to follow-up. With Remindex, lawyers can specify triggers for escalation and indicate who should be notified.
Reminders can also be automatically redirected when a lawyer is away from the office or when they leave the firm.
Remindex only runs on the Windows operating system.
Pricing: Remindex charges a one-time set-up fee of CAD$165/user followed by an annual maintenance fee of either CAD$600 plus CAD$25/user or, for larger accounts, 20% of the total set-up fees.
Practice Management Software
Virtually all practice management packages include some form of calendar functions. Some are basic while others include more features that manage limitation dates and deadlines. Your firm may already be using one of these programs and, if so, there would be no additional cost to using their calendaring features.
Clio is a practice management package that allows users to monitor limitation deadlines through a series of reminders in its calendar. It is also possible to set multiple reminders for a single limitation date.
Clio’s other features integrate with a wide variety of programs including Microsoft Office and Google but it is not possible to sync its limitations calendar to an outside calendar program.
Pricing: USD$39-$129/user/month by monthly or annual subscription.
Co-counsellor is another cloud-based practice management solution and is specifically designed for personal injury practices. It offers calendaring among its many features and includes the ability to enter custom fields to track upcoming limitation deadlines.
Co-counsellor syncs with Google and Outlook mail and calendars to create calendar events, tasks, and email alerts for key dates on each case.
Pricing: USD$75-$120/user/ month.
CosmoLex uses “Task Workflows” to create and group tasks to track the progress of processes and deadlines.
Users can assign tasks to individuals, set due dates, and designate whether a user can begin a task immediately, before or after a certain date or if the task is contingent on completion of another task.
Task Workflows can be set up as templates and the steps can be edited and customized to individual files.
CosmoLex’s calendar synchronizes with Microsoft Office and Google calendar events. Integration is bidirectional, so that anything created in CosmoLex’s calendar will appear in Outlook or Google, and vice versa.
CosmoLex is cloud-based and functions with all operating systems.
Pricing: USD$79/user/month by monthly or annual subscription.
You want to protect the goodwill and professionalism you have worked so hard to develop for your practice.
A good limitations system will help you do that by protecting your clients from missed deadlines and reduce the number of complaints and professional negligence claims you receive.
If you have any questions about limitations systems and software, reach out to our Legal Technology and Mentorship department.