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Best practices for Statute of Limitations

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Martina Donagher Posted: Wed, Mar 24 2010 7:25 AM

We are setting up a system for Critical Dates, mainly to deal with the expiration of Statutes of Limitation.  I am trying to figure out the best way to handle Critical Dates.  I created a User Defined Record (Date type) which contains the Date of Incident and the Date the SOL expires.  However, I can't get this record to appear on the calendar, which I assume it will have to if we want it to remind the user about the date.

Should I use the Event Form instead? Or have a Date field within the Matter itself?

I did various searches in this forum but couldn't find a discussion on best practices on how to deal with critical dates so if someone could point me in the right direction, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks.

Martina

Martina Donagher,

 Lewis C. Doyle Solicitors, Augustine Court, St. Augustine Street, Galway, Ireland Tel: +353 91 549300

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Martina:

 

You should have a dual system to capture the SOL date(s).  One system is the use fields in the Matters record with reports and quicktabs to view.  A second system involves a trigger of a SOL type event in the calendar.  I would not use a User Defined Record.

 

I’d recommend the following:

 

1.      On a Matter form style such as LIT:Litigation, add your two fields Date of Accident/Incident and SOL Date in the Matter record.

Make the SOL Date required on LIT type matters.

2.      Trigger or auto Generate an Event with a standardized code and description such as SOL, use an Auto entry form to fill in any/all appropriate reminders and possibly to enter more than one staff member in the Event.  Make sure Alarms are set on the Event.

3.      Create a matter Quicktab that allows for a quick and easy view of SOL dates.

4.      Create reports to list the SOL date using the Matter field and another report for the SOL Events.

WE did all of this for one firm and the they blew a statute date because they did not run their reports…so.

 

5.      TIP: Assume that at some point the SOL report will  not get run as it should.  Therefore, set a ‘recurring’ event that pops-up on a responsible staff person’s calendar that reminds them to ‘run the SOL report(s)’.  You can set this to run on say the last Friday of each month, and use the memo to list instructions on which report to run and any other report generation/distribution details.  You might want to assume that the ‘responsible person is either not there to run the report or is not ‘responsible’ and therefore may want to add another recurring event for the Responsible Lawyer who gets a pop up that says ‘Review the SOL Report’.  Set this to pop-up on the lawyer’s calendar on perhaps the first Monday of each month.  Knowing this the staff person may be more inclined to run the report the prior Friday.

 

6.      TIP: Also since SOL dates are not always simple, such as date of incident plus two years, you should consider a trigger for a Todo to have a lawyer verify the SOL date.  This can be created at the same time that you trigger the SOL event.  The TODO goes to the ‘responsible lawyer’ and it says confirm statute date. This way you are not relying on a totally brainless method.  I once was engaged by Lexis to add date calculations for the state of NY and was surprised at all of the exceptions for municipalities, podiatric and other weird exceptions and I assume you have your own idiosyncrasies since your jurisdiction has much more time to complicate the rules :~)

 

7.      You might want to look on the Lexis website for feature training video’s for form styles, auto entry forms, auto generate records, triggers, custom report generator, quicktabs, recurring events, reminders, alarms, date timetable calculations and customized powerviews. 

On the other hand you may want to enlist the assistance of someone who has done this before. 

If this is configured right it will make you and Time Matters shine, however, if not done right it just gives you a shiner.

 

Hope that helps.

You mentioned critical dates.  There are other techniques for managing what I consider critical dates (Discovery End Date, Expert Discovery End Date, Motion Deadline, Settlement Conference, Arbitration, Pre-trial, Trial Dates) also dates for when the Complaint was filed and the date to Confirm Service of Complaint.  Again add the fields in he matters record and trigger events in he calendar.

Another litigation critical date subsystem involves Discovery tracking both yours and the adverse party.  This involves document record field customization and calendar event/todo triggers. A powerview to display discovery status is another feature that may be applied with great effect.

HTH

Tom Caffrey (County Meath)

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A few years ago the 7 Second System presented a Key Dates system at the Time Matters conference. We have been using the same system for years with all of our clients.

Although we agree with parts of Tom Caffrey's post, we disagree on parts as well.  In essence we believe these key dates should be in more than one place. A Matter field helps, but typically there are many key dates in each file and the number of key dates vary between matters so.... a matter form style is ultimately a dead end.

We do not put Deadlines/ Key Dates in Events for 2 critical reasons:

1. Events can be involved in synchronizations to Outlook, phones etc... Putting your deadlines into this mix, is a risk that we not encourage firms to bear. As an example... if you are using the Exchange sync. Create an appointment for the key date in Outlook. Let is sync to Time Matters. In Time Matters, you realize you want to add this to more staff members, so you change the event. You later change the date of this event. Watch it sync to Outlook??? As of this writing...it does not. So you now have an event in limbo. This leads to the second reason.

2. Time Matters creates multiple events. One event for each staff. You now have to deal with multiple records for that one deadline. When it changes, that events had to be grouped together, you have to change the master and select to change all linked records (and no one else had to unlink them previously) for you to change the date.

At the end of the day, the implementation of the Time Matters calendar adds complexity to your Key Dates tracking where you do not want complexity.

We use a UDR for the Key Dates. They are not linked or sync anywhere and multiples are not created.  You can also have different security on your key dates than you do on events and/or todos. The key dates list allows a firm to manage its risk effectively and quickly. I can think of a real life example. We had a mid size firm where the office manager spent almost a 1/2 day every other week tracking, following up and ensuring the key dates were being monitored. We moved that into our system and the manager spends just a few seconds finding the information.

We also encourage those users that want to add some kind of reminder for themselves to add another record - usually a todo. They can then use that todo to manage their time committement with respect to key date. They key date record is the one stop shopping spot for the status of that key date. There is a video on my blog at http://7secondblog.ca/7-second-system/ skip to 1:20 in the video.

We have a standard implementation that is at the core of our 7 Second System that anticipates and deals with all of these key dates including limitations and a complete discovery tracking system. 

Matt

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Matt:

We have been using our approach for ten years and haven't had the issues you suggest.  I am sure your system is a good one.  Many systems will work provided you follow the procedures.   However, knowledgeable people can take different paths to arrive at the same destination.

Let me counter and state that use of one Matter form styles is not as you say a 'deadend', they have proven very effective.  We prefer Matter critical date fields as they are easy to understand and use and are right where most people do their work.  We often find that multiple critical dates are assigned and become known at the same time and these are easily entered all at once in the Matter.  We too can run statute dates reports in seconds. Plus we don't have to 'encourage' users to enter a separate Todo record as you stated, we have the changed matter fields automatically trigger calendar deadline events - all of this quickly ( with of the automatic trigger the user time would be 0 seconds :~) 

Not to have deadlines on your calendar to me seems silly.  We are not entering these records from Outlook. 

Your use of Todo's for Critical dates instead of Events increases the risk of important dates becoming lost in the Todo clutter from other less important Todo's that are set to follow and whcih tend to accumulate.

We haven't had the issue you mention with changing Event dates.  Besides security settings, one option is to create a selected trigger that sends a message to an administrator if the critical date, such as a statute of limitations date, changes.

Instead of a video we schedule complimentary one on one presentations.

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Matt Stone replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 11:42 PM

Options is a good thing in this World.

I did not suggest ToDos as a way to manage the Key Dates. We use a UDR to manage the process, alongside Matter fields (the area I stated we agree upon but matter fields are limited in their application).  What I did say was...we are not opposed to a staff adding a record for themselves, over and above the firm level tracking of key dates, that they can use as their personal record to manage their time associated with the keydate. As an example, if I have to research a cause of action and speak with 3 or 4 people before I file the claim I want to make sure I peg some time off for myself.  This is not the tracking system it is just a time management tool for a staff. Most firms we deal with, someone else is doing the work and the partner/administration just wants to make sure it is done. The last thing that I want is to have the partner/administrator digging through staff todo records to see if they are taking care of keydates. 

As there is no audit tracking for triggers and auto creation of events/todos we do not use these as part of the keydates system. When meeting with the firm administration, I cannot produce a report of all of the triggers that were in scope and whether they fired or not or whether a user pressed cancel with the record appeared on their screen.  We enter records and ensure the firm is tracking them as they are added and try not to give the impression that a trigger takes away the notion that the firm has to own their data.

We also move standard practices out of the todos, so we minimize the clutter in todo from the groud up. Discovery tracking is one of those areas and process based todos is another.

So a different mousetrap for different situations.  In our opinion, the process and configuration is much less important than user adoption and implementation. If the firm is consistantly using their internal process and are following up, it can work. Our goal with implementation is to reduce the administrative burden of managing the practice of law.

Matt

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