Software Advice helps law firms choose the right calendaring and docketing software so they can schedule case-related tasks and stay compliant with regulations. How does it work?

Legal Calendaring & Docketing Software

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Clio logo
 
Clio is a cloud-based legal practice management solution suitable for small to large law firms. The platform enables legal firms to track important deadlines, manage cases and documents and bill and collect from clients. The time... Read More
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Clio is a cloud-based legal practice management solution suitable for small to large law firms. The platform enables legal firms to track important deadlines, manage cases and documents and bill and collect from clients. The time... Read More
 
PracticePanther Legal logo
 
PracticePanther Legal Software is a legal management solution for small to midsize practices specializing in areas including bankruptcy law, personal injury, divorce, estate planning, litigation, criminal law and many more. The system... Read More
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PracticePanther Legal Software is a legal management solution for small to midsize practices specializing in areas including bankruptcy law, personal injury, divorce, estate planning, litigation, criminal law and many more. The system... Read More
 
MyCase logo
 
MyCase is a cloud-based legal management solution that helps attorneys in small size law firms to manage communications with their clients and carry out daily business operations. The solution also provides functionalities for accounting... Read More
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MyCase is a cloud-based legal management solution that helps attorneys in small size law firms to manage communications with their clients and carry out daily business operations. The solution also provides functionalities for accounting... Read More
 
AbacusLaw logo
 
Abacus Law is both cloud-based and on-premise case automation solution designed explicitly for legal practices. The system works as a practice management tool that helps in managing workflows including billing, time and accounting... Read More
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Abacus Law is both cloud-based and on-premise case automation solution designed explicitly for legal practices. The system works as a practice management tool that helps in managing workflows including billing, time and accounting... Read More
 
Smokeball logo
 
Smokeball is a cloud-based legal practice management for small firms that can be used in a variety of specialities. Key features include case management, contact management, calendaring, time tracking, billing and accounting.  Smokeball... Read More
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Smokeball is a cloud-based legal practice management for small firms that can be used in a variety of specialities. Key features include case management, contact management, calendaring, time tracking, billing and accounting.  Smokeball... Read More

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CASEpeer logo
 
CASEpeer is a cloud-based case management platform suitable for law firms of all sizes. It offers intake, case and task management tools, document management, negotiation and litigation tracking, reporting, search tools, case timelines... Read More
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CASEpeer is a cloud-based case management platform suitable for law firms of all sizes. It offers intake, case and task management tools, document management, negotiation and litigation tracking, reporting, search tools, case timelines... Read More
 
SmartAdvocate logo
 
Conceptualized by a partner at a personal injury law firm, SmartAdvocate is a legal management platform that offers flexible deployment options and a modular suite of applications.  In addition to case management, attorneys and their... Read More
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Conceptualized by a partner at a personal injury law firm, SmartAdvocate is a legal management platform that offers flexible deployment options and a modular suite of applications.  In addition to case management, attorneys and their... Read More
 
Essential logo
 
Essential by Anaqua is a mobile-ready platform offering legal management tools to intellectual property firms. It offers highly configurable workflows to meet a firm’s needs, policies, and procedures as well as client-specific processes. Case... Read More
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Essential by Anaqua is a mobile-ready platform offering legal management tools to intellectual property firms. It offers highly configurable workflows to meet a firm’s needs, policies, and procedures as well as client-specific processes. Case... Read More
 
LegalEdge logo
 
LegalEdge is a browser-based case and matter management solution for government, city and county attorneys, agencies and school districts as well as prosecutors and public defenders.   Case screens include claims, contracts, litigation... Read More
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LegalEdge is a browser-based case and matter management solution for government, city and county attorneys, agencies and school districts as well as prosecutors and public defenders.   Case screens include claims, contracts, litigation... Read More
 
HoudiniEsq logo
 
HoudiniEsq is a hybrid law practice management solution that caters to law practices of all sizes and provides them the functionalities to manage various business routines which include cases, billing, invoicing and several other... Read More
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HoudiniEsq is a hybrid law practice management solution that caters to law practices of all sizes and provides them the functionalities to manage various business routines which include cases, billing, invoicing and several other... Read More

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CosmoLex logo
 
CosmoLex is a cloud-based legal management solution that offers features including time tracking, billing, trust accounting, task and document management. The solution connects all modules so that users do not have to enter information... Read More
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CosmoLex is a cloud-based legal management solution that offers features including time tracking, billing, trust accounting, task and document management. The solution connects all modules so that users do not have to enter information... Read More
 
TrialWorks logo
 
TrialWorks is a legal case management solution designed for litigation firms of all sizes. It helps firms manage processes including case intake, trial preparation, contact management and document management. TrialWorks enables users... Read More
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TrialWorks is a legal case management solution designed for litigation firms of all sizes. It helps firms manage processes including case intake, trial preparation, contact management and document management. TrialWorks enables users... Read More
 
Rocket Matter logo
 
Rocket Matter is a cloud-based legal billing and management solution designed to cater small and midsize law practices. It features time and billing management, calendar, document management, payments and collaboration management modules. Rocket... Read More
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Rocket Matter is a cloud-based legal billing and management solution designed to cater small and midsize law practices. It features time and billing management, calendar, document management, payments and collaboration management modules. Rocket... Read More
 
Prevail Case Management logo
 
Prevail Case Management System by Practice Technology is a legal case management solution that offers relational database that incorporates tools and features users need to manage practice and multiple cases. It is suitable for legal... Read More
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Prevail Case Management System by Practice Technology is a legal case management solution that offers relational database that incorporates tools and features users need to manage practice and multiple cases. It is suitable for legal... Read More
 
Actionstep logo
 
Actionstep is a cloud-based legal practice management solution designed for growing and midsize firms. The integrated solution offers tools for managing cases, billing, invoicing and accounting as well as enables businesses to automate... Read More
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Actionstep is a cloud-based legal practice management solution designed for growing and midsize firms. The integrated solution offers tools for managing cases, billing, invoicing and accounting as well as enables businesses to automate... Read More

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Firm Central logo
 
Firm Central by Thomson Reuters is a cloud-based legal management solution. It features matter management, time and billing, scheduling and document assembly. All Firm Central packages offer client, matter, document and task management.... Read More
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Firm Central by Thomson Reuters is a cloud-based legal management solution. It features matter management, time and billing, scheduling and document assembly. All Firm Central packages offer client, matter, document and task management.... Read More
 
MerusCase logo
 
MerusCase is a cloud-based legal practice management solution for small, midsize and large legal firms and businesses. It is HIPAA compliant and offers document management, time tracking, billing, calendaring and communication tools. The... Read More
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MerusCase is a cloud-based legal practice management solution for small, midsize and large legal firms and businesses. It is HIPAA compliant and offers document management, time tracking, billing, calendaring and communication tools. The... Read More
 
Law Ruler Legal Practice Management logo
 
Law Ruler is a cloud-based case intake solution with a suite of features for law firms. It offers case management on a standalone basis, as well as document management, contact management, calendaring and docketing, billing and invoicing... Read More
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Law Ruler is a cloud-based case intake solution with a suite of features for law firms. It offers case management on a standalone basis, as well as document management, contact management, calendaring and docketing, billing and invoicing... Read More
 
App4Legal logo
 
App4Legal is a law practice management solution designed for lawyers, paralegal, assistants and managers. The product caters both to law firms, as well as in-house legal departments. It offers corporate law, contact management, litigation... Read More
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App4Legal is a law practice management solution designed for lawyers, paralegal, assistants and managers. The product caters both to law firms, as well as in-house legal departments. It offers corporate law, contact management, litigation... Read More
 
Coyote Analytics logo
 
Coyote Analytics is a comprehensive financial software system specifically built to meet the needs of law firms. The solution is available in both cloud-based and on-premise deployment formats. It features modules for managing contacts,... Read More
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Coyote Analytics is a comprehensive financial software system specifically built to meet the needs of law firms. The solution is available in both cloud-based and on-premise deployment formats. It features modules for managing contacts,... Read More
 

Buyer's Guide

by Eileen O'Loughlin,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: May 22, 2018


A significant percentage of legal malpractice claims stem from calendar and docket issues, according to data gathered by the American Bar Association (ABA). Together, the following make up roughly 25 percent of malpractice claims:

  • Failure to calendar properly
  • Failure to know or ascertain a deadline correctly
  • Procrastination in performing services or lack or a follow-up
  • Failure to react to calendar

These claims are hard to dispute: You either made a deadline or you didn't. Any firm—but small firms especially—can't afford to put themselves at risk for a malpractice suit from something so easily preventable.

Before you brush off that statement, consider that in 2015, over 440 legal malpractice claims resulted in claimants receiving over $1 million dollars in payment, according to a profile of the ABA's study of Legal Malpractice Claims from 2012 to 2015.

To combat this risk, many firms use calendaring and docketing software to provide early warnings and reminders of due dates for filings, court dates and case-related tasks and to create an audit trail for compliance and regulation review.

We've created this guide to outline what you can expect to find in calendaring and docketing software and help you understand how it fits within the larger legal software marketplace.

Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Legal Calendaring and Docketing Software?
Common Features of Legal Calendaring and Docketing Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Purchase Considerations

What Is Legal Calendaring and Docketing Software?

Calendaring and docketing software helps lawyers manage their files, tasks, deadlines and appointments surrounding cases and trials.

In an industry where missing deadlines has serious legal consequences, having a transparent, collaborative and redundant (i.e., a backed up or duplicated) system in place to manage calendaring and docketing is an important part of a firm's risk management strategy.

These tools automate what historically had been a very manual and tedious process surrounding case file maintenance and management.

Prior to automated calendaring and docketing software, a typical process looked something like this:

Manual Docketing Process

Steps in a manual docketing process, using index cards and a card box

The dated index card is called a “tickler." Sometimes a due date on a tickler was used simply to remind the attorney to review a case and check on it's status (rather than complete a specific action item). On a recurring basis (typically once a month), office staff was responsible for reviewing the tickler box to ensure cards weren't misfiled or hadn't been overlooked.

This was how firms handled files. There was a separate, but related, process for managing schedules for appointments, court appearances and client meetings.

Now, docketing software helps firms create an automated process to manage all tasks, files and deadlines associated with cases and ensure reminders are set and schedules are accurate.

Typically, one person (or more, depending on the size of your firm) is responsible for inputting dates into the system for each case and assuring compliance with court rules and deadlines.

A separate person is responsible for managing calendars, both the individual calendars of the attorneys and shared calendars among the firm. This person reviews mail, email, faxes etc. for dates and deadlines and adds them to the appropriate schedule.

Then, the system acts to provide checks and reminders of impending due dates and case-related tasks. This not only makes the attorney and office staff more organized (and audit ready), but it promotes a better attorney-client relationship as there are less mistakes and missed deadlines.

Because the cards in the manual system were referred to as “ticklers," you may still see this term used to refer to the automated organization system in docketing software. For example, TrialWorks, is a case management software that uses a digital “tickler system."

Adding a tickler to a docket in TrialWorks software

Adding a tickler to a docket in TrialWorks

Some cloud-based systems, such as Clio, will auto-generate dates for court rules within the attorney's jurisdiction based on the “trigger" event being logged.

Adding Docket items in Clio software using their Court Rules functionality

Adding items to the docket using “Court Rules" functionality in Clio

Calendaring and docketing tools are available as best-of-breed solutions (BoB), or as an application within a larger practice management suite.

Firms looking for highly collaborative solutions should consider cloud-based tools as they'll offer the highest degree of transparency and to-the-minute updates.

For example, if an attorney is out of the office and a paralegal receives an email about an urgent discovery item, they can update the attorney's calendar from the office. The system will alert the attorney that a new task has been added to their calendar, and the attorney can check it on their mobile device or laptop.

Maintaining strict rules and protocol around calendaring and docketing is crucial for risk management and ensuring compliance with regulations. This includes workflows dictating who adds tasks and due dates, that there are “read" receipts in the system for when the attorney receives them, that there is a saved history of when auto-generated reminders for deadlines were sent out and of course when the task was completed along with relevant documentation.

Common Features of Calendaring & Docketing Software

Expect to see some or all of the following capabilities as you evaluate calendaring and docketing software:

Email integration Integration with common email platforms, including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail. Users can create tasks or calendar events directly from email and can view appointments across devices.
Task management Review cases and create task lists encompassing action items to be completed by the attorney (and firm staff) to bring the case to a close. Assign to users and schedule due dates. Save task lists to easily load workflows into future, similar cases.
Calendar management View tasks, appointments, meetings and docket items by day, week, month or year. Schedule due dates in accordance with court rules. Filter by attorney, case file or client. Link related events and if there is rescheduling, due dates for related events will shift as well.
Document management Upload, share and attach files to cases in a secure format. Use versioning to view and if necessary, restore previous versions. Use access controls to dictate who can access, change and share files.
Case management Store and retrieve case information (including contact information, documents, tasks and schedules) in a centralized, searchable database. Check for conflicts of interest and statute of limitations.
Court rules/ rules-based scheduling Import court-specified due dates for various tasks relating to your cases by jurisdiction from a database. Set up rules for events or category so dates auto-generate when that event is selected.
Automatic reminders Schedule notifications to remind assigned users of upcoming deadlines for case-related tasks (e.g., court filings, client meetings, responding to discovery etc.). Set up alerts with enough lead time so the task can be completed and logged.
Audit trail Save a history of all calendaring and docketing action-items, “read" receipts for tasks and a history of reminders sent out about tasks. The audit trail protects the firm and the attorney in the event of a malpractice suit and keeps users compliant with regulations.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

According to 2016 U.S. lawyer demographic research by the ABA (highlighted in this infographic by PracticePanther), 75 percent of attorneys in the private sector work for small firms with 20 or fewer practicing attorneys. Of that, 49 percent work at solo practices.

Below is how your calendaring and docketing needs should break down across your size of business:

Solo practice (one attorney): Look for email integration with a shared calendar tool, task management and matter management (i.e., BoB calendaring and docketing will suffice).

Small practice (two to 20 attorneys): Everything for the solo attorney plus look for case management software that includes calendaring and docketing and document management.

Midsize practice (21 - 50 attorneys): Everything for the small practice, and in addition look for time keeping and a legal billing solution.

Large law firm (more than 50 attorneys): Large law firms will need a comprehensive practice management solution, often one geared toward their specific practice area (see below).

Purchase Considerations

Our last legal management software user report found that the number one function law firms automate with software is calendar and docketing. Based on the percentage of malpractice claims resulting from calendar and docket issues, it's not hard to see why.

However, the specific calendar and docket needs of your firm may vary based on your practice area. Common case-related calendar and docket tasks for different practice areas include:

Litigation:

    Court filings, court dates and appearances, pleading deadlines, discovery dates and opposing party deadlines.  
  • Patent, copyright or trademark: Deadlines for filing applications, dates of annuity and maintenance payments.
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  • Real estate: Deadlines for contracts, loans, inspection dates, closing dates and lien notification dates.
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  • Corporate/commercial: Annual meetings and deadlines for tax returns, financial statements and regulatory filings.
 

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