Search

The Top 3 Malpractice Cases Caused by Missed Deadlines & How to Avoid Them

Updated: Nov 17

According to the American Bar Association, legal malpractice insurance payouts reached an all-time high of $300M in 2021. This is a troubling statistic for law firms as malpractice lawsuits are costly, damage a law firm's reputation, and can even lead to an attorney losing their license to practice. One of the most common malpractice risks lawyers are vulnerable to is missed legal deadlines due to clerical errors, disconnected communication, and manual calendaring. The three most common missed deadlines are:

  • Missed Statute of Limitations

  • Missed Summons Deadlines

  • Missed Discovery Deadlines

The good news is that simple legal calendaring software solutions provide attorneys with the tools they need to never miss a legal deadline again. In this blog, we will cover what the top three missed deadlines can mean for modern law firms and how LEAP and LawToolBox provide lawyers with the integrated solutions they need to mitigate those risks once and for all.


Manage critical court dates with LEAP

1. Missed Statute of Limitations

What is a statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations is the time period in which legal action can be taken for a specific matter. Therefore, when attorneys fail to submit a complaint on time, a client’s right to pursue legal action is jeopardized. There are no solutions that can be provided to a client regarding the matter once this deadline is missed.

What does a missed statute of limitations mean for law firms?

There are several consequences when attorneys miss the deadline to file a complaint on time. This leaves attorneys vulnerable to a malpractice suit and damages the client-attorney relationship, which can lead to negative online reviews, missed referral opportunities, and hesitance for new clients to hire or retain an attorney.

How LEAP & LawToolBox can help

LEAP offers pre-built matter types that instantly create an electronic matter once a law firm decides to take on a new case. That means from day one, attorneys can utilize the LawToolBox integration to access date calculators and automate calendaring in LEAP. These dates are then pushed to the attorney’s Microsoft Outlook calendar, on all devices, to ensure that the complaint is submitted on time.


Missed Summons Deadline

2. Missed Summons Deadlines

What is a summons?

A summons is a written document from the plaintiff that is issued by the court to inform a defendant that a complaint has been filed against them and they are being sued. The summons will include relevant case information including the names and addresses of the parties in the lawsuit, the issue date, relevant documents, and the assigned court.

What does a missed summons deadline mean for law firms?

The consequences of a missed summons deadline will vary based on the jurisdiction and how much time has passed since filing with the court. If it is before the statute of limitations and past the designated timeframe for the jurisdiction, there is the opportunity to issue a new summons. However, this brings its own challenges and rules that can make pursuing the matter more difficult and can lead to client dissatisfaction. On the other hand, if the matter has passed its statue of limitations, then nothing can be done, leading to a strained client-attorney relationship and impacting future opportunities for a law firm.

How LEAP & LawToolBox can help

Users can view any electronic matter in LEAP to see a history of all the actions and changes associated with the case. Therefore, they can easily track when an initial summons was sent out and utilize the LawToolBox integration to set reminders far before the deadline to issue another summons. These features will help prevent accidental human error with calendar reminders.


Missed Discovery Deadlines

3. Missed Discovery Deadlines

What is discovery?

Discovery occurs before a trial and allows both parties to review any witnesses and evidence that will be used during the trial. Discovery is essential to the legal process as it does not allow either side to feel ambushed by new information during the trial and gives them time to prepare in advance.

What does a missed discovery deadline mean for law firms?

While attorneys can request discovery extensions, it is not guaranteed that the other side will comply. In that case, key pieces of evidence or witnesses cannot be used, which could jeopardize the case's success. Especially for firms that are paid based on a case's success, they are missing out on potential revenue and straining their relationship with the client.

How LEAP & LawToolBox can help

LawToolBox's integration with LEAP eliminates the potential for human error by providing access to date calculators, and automated calendaring pre-set from the courts based on the jurisdiction and area of law. Additionally, LEAP serves as a secure database for all matter-related files, including depositions, images, files, PDFs, and more, so that attorneys and support staff can easily store, locate, collaborate, and share evidence with internal staff members, clients, and third parties.


Conclusion

While these are only the top three missed deadlines that lead to malpractice claims, law firms that continue to operate manually leave themselves vulnerable to numerous missed deadlines that cost them time, money, and potentially their ability to practice law. As law firms move towards a more digital future overall, automated legal calendaring is a simple solution to mitigate these risks while improving firm operations and client relationships. LawToolBox's integration with LEAP enables law firms to streamline legal calendaring, digitizing all business functions with solutions for practice management, document creation and management, legal publishing, and legal accounting to increase law firm productivity and profitability.

If you're interested in learning more about LawToolBox's integration with LEAP, check out our product page for full details!

200 views0 comments