Every small law firm throughout the country has court deadlines that dictate legal matters. Perhaps your law firm already subscribes to legal calendaring software to help manage these fast-and-furious court rules, or perhaps not.
If your firm is without Thomson Reuters Firm Central, then you’re also missing the benefit of Deadline Assistant, a secure, Web-based tool that uses your jurisdiction’s rules to calculate deadlines for your case based on Westlaw legal calendaring rules or your own custom rules templates. It then adds that information to your Firm Central and Microsoft Outlook calendars for an organized view of upcoming priorities.
The Human Touch Driving Deadline Assistant
There’s an added benefit when you subscribe to Deadline Assistant, and it’s the human touch behind it.
In legal calendaring software, like Deadline Assistant within Firm Central for small law firms, an algorithm codifies the many deadlines for a trial, responding to pleadings, motions, and on and on. Beyond just viewing dates in calendaring software, Deadline Assistant brings a value-add with a human touch and level of detail you can’t tap on your own.
That human touch behind Deadline Assistant originates with Cole Foster, a principal attorney editor with Thomson Reuters. He’s been with the company 19 years, working as a reference attorney, doing IT support, creating databases, and interpreting rule sets for the last 12 years. He and his team of attorney editors and paralegals compile, review and write intricate detail to interpret court rules so your legal team is clear about calendaring for client matters. The editorial enhancements that Cole and his team provide are extremely valuable since they take the guesswork out of understanding the rules.
Cole’s team of seven attorneys and two paralegals divide their work into jurisdictions. Each of them is charged with staying abreast of changes to court rules. In turn, new and amended rules are turned into what the team calls rule sets. These are a collection of deadlines extracted from a set of court rules issued at federal and state levels. Their work is invisible behind Deadline Assistant and other Thomson Reuters calendaring products like ProLaw and Enterprise. For the jurisdictions Cole manages, he writes detailed interpretations that describe the deadlines and triggering events.
In jurisdictions like California, the rules come quickly. That state acts like a mini-country, with highly complex rules and amendments that come down January 1 and July 1 for upwards of 70 percent of county courts throughout the state. When California ‘spits,’ the entire team jumps into overdrive to manage the new information. In addition, the attorney-editors are responsible for every other state, Canada, and many intellectual property rules worldwide.
Managing Deadline Assistant Calendaring
Rules are usually written by judicial panels and approved by courts. The spotlight is always on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in addition to the local federal district court, bankruptcy court, and state civil rules of procedure. Westlaw and court websites provide source material for the legal editor team. They, in turn, review any new rules and amendments and make appropriate changes that get included in Deadline Assistant.
The team is responsible for:
- Reviewing new rules issued by courts
- Reviewing rule amendments and revising rules sets to make them current
- Integrating content and interpreting context for rules
- Writing the detail behind rules and deadlines
- Reviewing results of algorithm changes to the programming code that feed into the machine
- Getting information into the cloud as soon as possible for Deadline Assistant and Firm Central users, among others.
Using Deadline Assistant to Calendar a New Trial Date
Imagine you’re working in Deadline Assistant right now. You have a main entry called ‘trial date’ set for August 1. You click the + sign and all the deadlines pop up for dates you need to know to calendar and schedule aspects of your trial. Or, you can hit ‘calculate’ using the August 1 date and a running list of deadlines appears working backward to queue up your trial preparation calendar.
If you’re thinking about human error, Cole has you covered.
“We’re continuously updating deadlines to reflect new rule amendments in every jurisdiction and court where we have coverage,” said Cole. “We have checks and balances built in with a rinse-and-repeat cycle that audit our audits to ensure humans don’t make mistakes. Could it happen? Sure, anything is possible, but I’m highly confident with our systems and processes for the highest accuracy of data and rule set interpretation. In addition, we have astute customers who also keep their eyes open for the errant mistake.”
Give Deadline Assistant a try and put Cole and his team to work for you!