Paralegals: Quick Tips for Managing a Docket

If your attorney does not have a docketing system or keeps his calendar in his head, you can expect to miss important dates. An attorney that does not have an adequate calendaring system for court deadlines and other deliverables is destined to be client-less, suspended or, worse case, disbarred from the practice of law.  Missed deadlines and meetings are a sign of an attorney not working for the client.   

Make sure that your attorney has and maintains a docket calendar, and that everything is kept current. When using a calendar be consistent and clear. A calendar is of no use to other members of the firm if the docketing is too cryptic for each and every firm member to follow. If your firm does not have standards for keeping a calendar, you may want to consider creating some. A typical calendar entry for a docket would be “[Type of Hearing] [Client] [Court#] [Cause] [Time] [County]”.

For instance a good calendar reference for a Motion to Enter or a Motion to Enforce would be the following: “MTEnt: Jolea; 255-8119427-S: 2 PM Dallas” and “MTEnf: Pitt; 158;2005-20814-158: 9 AM Denton.” 

For appointments which do not occur in court, make sure to docket the physical address of the meeting or mediation, etc. A good practice is to review the calendar with your attorney no less than weekly, particularly to make sure the attorney is not scheduling appointments by himself either on or off the calendar. As we all know, that can be dangerous as time management was not a class in law school. 

Make sure that you keep up with all discovery deadlines. We all know that discovery can be long, tiring, and even painful at times, but it is much worse (and sometimes downright fatal to a case) if you miss a production deadline. You should be vigilant for all types of deadlines: those imposed by the Rules of Evidence; those imposed by the Court; and those agreed to by the parties and their respective counsels. 

You should also set up periodic meetings with the members of your office who are working on the case including the attorney and any other paralegals. Work with your attorney to assign parts of the case to colleagues which can complete any additional work needed by the designated deadlines. In our firm we have found it extremely helpful to color code calendars. This can be helpful if you have numerous attorneys practicing in the same office. It is also helpful to have different color codes for different types of appointments, i.e. new clients, pre-trial hearings, etc. 

Although not a professional legal docketing package, Microsoft Outlook is a great option for this. What does your firm use for docketing? 


Angela Davis said...

We use Outlook but I am actually trying to make an actual docketing calendar of some sort. Any ideas on where to start would be great!

weegee said...

Outlook very robust. But we built a custom application using Salesforce that had calendars, document storage, email alerts and notifications. Never miss a thing. B

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