Korbitec president Alan Bass explains how the company’s flagship product, Automated Civil Litigation (ACL) helps firms reduce deadline-related risks.
The task-management feature in Korbitec Inc.’s flagship Automated Civil Litigation (ACL) product helps bridge the gap to project management for lawyers adapting to current law practice necessities, says company president Alan Bass.
In the last decade, that project management has become a requirement for law firm leaders seeking to match client demand for greater efficiency and alternative fee arrangements that leave the billable hour behind, Bass tells AdvocateDaily.com.
“A project management approach to legal files can help lawyers become more disciplined about their time frames and be in a better position to offer fixed-rate quotes,” he explains. “But the problem is that it’s a big leap for some lawyers, particularly those who are time crunched. They went to law school for the most part because they wanted to practise law, not to be process managers and prepare budgets.”
However, Bass says ACL’s marquee product could be a solution for lawyers and law firms not able to invest in a more complex alternative.
“It’s not a complete project management system by any stretch, but we have built some key features, including task management, which can achieve some of those goals of tracking tasks, without being such a huge leap,” he says
Bass explains that the case management function in ACL was spurred by consultations with LawPRO, the legal profession’s indemnity insurer in Ontario. The insurer was concerned about changes to the province’s Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 48.14 which meant that any claim not set down for trial within five years of its launch is automatically dismissed.
Although longer than the old two-year deadline, the rule changes also eliminated status notices from the court’s registrar, which warned parties that the case would be dismissed for abandonment — a process that served as a safety net for many lawyers, he says.
“Dismissal as a result of missing an administrative deadline is the biggest source of claims against lawyers in litigation,” Bass says. “So we gave our users more tools to manage that risk.”
He says the centralized tickler system originally developed by Korbitec to send warnings on approaching deadlines has since grown to include more extensive task-management features, allowing users to track matters as they progress through the various stages expected of any litigation file.
For example, Bass says users can develop their own standard task lists related to activity in each stage of a file, based on previous experience in similar matters or in concert with the rules. A firm can then apply as many task sets to a file as they wish and these also act as a checklist, a key component in any project management system.
“You might have a file-opening task set that reminds the lawyer to send an engagement letter, capture the client’s information, and record limitations dates,” he says. “It allows a law firm to achieve some central visibility for all the tasks that can be assigned to a matter at different phases, when they should be done by, and who is handling the case.
“Ultimately, it helps a file run much more smoothly and efficiently,” Bass says.
The task manager is very report rich, and for senior management at the firm, the system can be set up to flag overdue or approaching deadlines, and also allows them to quickly get a sense of where a file stands in situations where the handling lawyer departs the firm, is sick, or unavailable for some other reason.
“Because the system is centralized, there can be many eyes on files to ensure that actions and due dates to not get missed,” Bass says.