Keeping track of deadlines is important to planning a productive work day. We prefer a form of written calendar slip that is kept by date in a filing box, along with a physical calendar to write on as well as entries in an electronic calendar program. We can even go so far as to keep track of every phone call as well as those “subject matter experts” we occasionally meet while working on a case. We note the name of each attorney’s assistant so we can get his or her extension from the firm’s internal directory when we call. Internally, we keep track of daily contacts on paper by client and by date so we have a good written record of work performed and a ready supply of memory joggers to help keep our to-do lists up to date.
We give ourselves at least two reminders in advance of an important deadline so we can plan our work more efficiently as that project comes due. We suggest setting those reminders at intervals that make sense for completion of the project: two months to draft a summary judgment motion, two weeks to draft a Motion to Compel.
When coming into a case as a new defendant or cross-defendant, it’s important to review the court file to ascertain any court-set hearings. Many courts have online dockets that can be viewed by case number. San Luis Obispo Superior Court website has 5-day calendars that are refreshed every morning; this requires law office staff to review listings to determine if any client matters are coming up. If you get stuck doing a review like this for a complex case, don’t forget to check your written record for the names of those attorney’s assistants who may have information to share with you! Checking a department’s tentative rulings also provides an idea of what direction the judge is considering with regard to a calendared matter, giving an opportunity to assist the attorney in being better prepared at the appearance.
If a deadline is missed, the work day becomes a lot less productive as we mobilize to handle the crisis instead of what was planned for that day. Careful organizing and monitoring of both the office calendar and the courts’ calendars is a safeguard against missing important deadlines.
Ellen Sheffer Leslie Donahue