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Calendaring for Law Firms 101
The way a law firm is run often depends on the size of the firm, but there are some general guidelines that apply to all firms. For example, it’s important for your staff to have a clear understanding of their calendar and deadlines so they can manage their time efficiently. In this post, we’ll discuss calendars and deadlines for law firms, including how to keep these things organized with Google Calendar. We’ll also review some common mistakes lawyers make when setting deadlines (and how to avoid them).
First, what is a docketing calendar?
A firm’s “docket” is simply a list of deadlines for your law firm. A calendar can be used to organize and denote deadlines for filing documents in court, meeting with clients, billing hours to clients, or any other important event that needs to be entered into the schedule. Calendars are a keystone of law firm management, which is why it’s so important to make sure your firm has the right software that includes or integrates with your calendar system. Calendars should be dynamic and include reminders of upcoming deadlines, so lawyers don’t miss them (we’ll explain more about this later).
When setting up an electronic calendar system for your law firm, the first thing you’ll want to do is set a calendar that can be shared by all lawyers at the firm.
A shared calendar allows everyone to add their own deadlines and events so they appear on every other lawyer’s calendar. While this may seem like a lot of extra work (what if two people schedule events at the same time?), in reality, lawyers should be aware of what other lawyers are doing and avoid scheduling their own events at times there is a potential conflict.
The beauty of sharing calendars is that it allows you to see all firm deadlines in one spot without having to constantly reference individual calendars.
For example, if you have a calendar for billing hours, you can view the total number of hours billed by each lawyer on one convenient central calendar, and easily see who has fallen behind on their billable hours without having to check individual lawyers’ calendars.
Remember: if you’re sharing a calendar and something comes up, you can make updates to the shared calendar and all other lawyers will see it in real time.
Whether you’re a solo practitioner or have a team of attorneys, your calendar can be one of the most important tools in managing your law office. We all know that time is money and any wasted minutes add up to hours of overtime. To make sure we maximize our efficiency, it helps to set deadlines for tasks like catching up on correspondence or reviewing old case files. As much as possible, try not to overlap tasks with each other so there aren’t multiple items competing for finite resources. For example, don’t schedule meetings back-to-back if they’re both at the end of the day because then you’ll start running late very quickly and lose focus when trying to multitask, as it becomes much more difficult later in the day.
Calendar management is a big deal and should be treated with the same respect. It can easily turn into a huge endeavor if not thought out carefully and managed in one place. Just imagine the issues that can ensue if deadlines are missed or the entire firm wastes time trying to make sure everything is covered. It’s crucial to get it right.