Managing the calendar at a law firm is a notoriously manual process. Attorneys generally hand-schedule important hearing notices and changes, client meetings, deadlines and notifications in attorney calendars, where even small human errors can put them at risk of malpractice.
A number of independent legal calendaring tools have popped up over the years, but most have been acquired by larger legal technology providers. In 2011, business management software company Aderant acquired popular scheduling tool CompuLaw, and both LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters acquired similar tools in the early part of the 2000s to include with their service offerings.
Similarly, many popular practice management tools either have built-in calendaring tools or integrations with email-based calendaring functions in Outlook or Google Calendar, but it largely remains the job of legal support professionals to manually manage and update calendars within these platforms.
In recent years, startups have looked to update standard calendar technology to remove or rethink some of the human error associated with manually managing legal calendars. These three startups have adopted new advances in automation, natural text comprehension and visualization technology to improve upon the legal calendar:
Doxbi, a verbal amalgamation of the word “documents” and the acronym “BI” (business intelligence), is an email plugin that scrapes scheduling information from hearing notices and plugs them into your calendar of choice. The tool takes provided information like date, time, location, and room number, along with case information like hearing judge and case number, and provides it to the user for review before creating calendar events. Additionally, users can use the tool to request of the courts necessary services like translation and court reporting.
The tool can read information from both plain-text and PDF attachments with fairly consistent accuracy, but does require that users select some identifying information about case type from a drop-down menu to categorize hearings appropriately.
ModernLaw draws its scheduling data from county clerks directly, allowing attorneys to sign up for the service and immediately receive a set of calendar invitations for upcoming hearings as they are scheduled or modified by courts. Invitations are sent via email, allowing attorneys to integrate information into their current calendar system. The service also allows users to review their upcoming hearing dates online through their ModernLaw account.
The types of events included in this calendar include hearing summaries, location information, case histories, and key information about counsel assigned to the case. Additionally, ModernLaw emails reminder notifications 24 hours, four hours, and one hour prior to hearings.
Designed specifically for litigators, CaseFleet takes a different approach to the calendar view altogether, marking events in the litigation lifecycle along a vertical timeline of a matter rather than in a month-to-month calendar. Though the tool is meant to be a more comprehensive matter management system, its calendar functions take a novel approach to visualizing key dates and deadlines.
CaseFleet’s approach allows attorneys to view all of their matter schedules alongside one another, which can help them figure out how to prioritize their work, but the way it spatializes time remaining may also take some getting used to.