That pit in your stomach? The flushed feeling rushing over your face? Chances are if you’ve been in practice long enough, you’ve felt a similar sensation upon realizing the deadline is (oh no!) TODAY and not next Friday. But you caught it, and now you’ve got enough time to either meet the deadline (like filing the necessary pleading) or request an extension. In this article, we’ll look at what you can do to make sure that the correct date is properly calendared, or even if it wasn’t, that the deadline isn’t missed.
One simple step to help avoid a missed deadline, like the statute of limitations: don’t wait to file until the day of the final deadline! Whether a calendaring error, a last-minute computer problem, personal emergency, or e-filing is down, waiting until the due date creates an unnecessary risk with potential major consequences.
Over the years, missed deadlines have been a leading cause of legal malpractice claims (and not just for personal injury attorneys). By missing a statute of limitations date, a discovery deadline, appeal date or some other key deadline, a client may be fully deprived of their opportunity for recourse.
Here are some action items to do to ensure your filing or other deadlines are completed on time.
1. Multiple calendar entries
When calendaring a deadline, also make calendar entries at certain intervals preceding that date. If it’s a statute of limitations date, consider adding entries at 6 months, 3 months, and 1 month prior to the anticipated deadline. This can help keep that deadline on your radar and task list earlier than the last minute.
2. Checks and balances
If a paralegal or associate attorney is calculating a statute of limitations date, have a more seasoned attorney check the final date before it’s calendared. When the statute of limitations date could be impacted by multiple factors or facts yet undetermined, making sure the most conservative date is calendared may be the best approach.
3. Plan your workflow
An important aspect of law firm risk mitigation is to work on creating a culture in your firm where attorneys and staff have an appropriate workload. High volume practices, disorganized offices or staffing, and unclear internal policies can contribute to easily avoidable errors. Once clear internal standards are established, attorneys should follow good time-management practices like blocking calendars to work on identified tasks, leave time for proofreading, and anticipate the unanticipated (like computer problems).
By incorporating these procedures into your practice, we hope you reduce the risk of inadvertently missing a deadline and maintain a more efficient and effective practice. As always, please feel free to reach out to experienced loss prevention attorneys here at OBLIC with your questions and concerns. We’re here to help!
|Gretchen K. Mote, Esq.
Director of Loss Prevention
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
|Merisa K. Bowers, Esq.
Loss Prevention Counsel
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
This information is made available solely for loss prevention purposes, which may include claim prevention techniques designed to minimize the likelihood of incurring a claim for legal malpractice. This information does not establish, report, or create the standard of care for attorneys. The material is not a complete analysis of the topic and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Please conduct your own appropriate legal research in this area. If you have questions about this email’s content and are an OBLIC policyholder, please contact us using the information above.