Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all.
John F. Kennedy
Law firms are still one of the only professions that lag behind technology. Lawyers are known for being fond of paper – correspondence by letter, paper trails, and rudimentary document management systems (a/k/a case and matter file folders). Even with the advent of email back in the 1990’s, lawyers still like to print the emails and store them in file folders.
Most of the technological changes in law firms were led by their clients’ needs. Corporations not only had the money, but were willing to embrace technology and demanded that their attorneys do the same to adequately support them.
Today, technology is advancing so rapidly that it is difficult for any firm to keep up. As opposed to the past, firms look to replace their software every 3-5 years and need it to be more efficient and compatible with other firm resources.
The same applies to docketing software. Almost all the vendors continue to make changes by adding new features, automation, and integration with other resources. Just like with law firms, docketing vendors respond to their clients’ needs and continue to evolve with their technology.
Docketing of the Past
Many of you are too young to remember when typewriters were the norm with carbon paper used to create duplicate and triplicate copies of forms and documents. Then fax and photocopy machines revolutionized the legal market. Computers followed soon thereafter and dot-matrix printers became extinct. Then came the Internet. In some respect, there was a sense of fear of job security, which is common with change.
Docketing was performed by using large ledger books, wall calendars and a spindle or rolodex system. Reports were typed and deadlines were calculated manually by counting the days on a monthly calendar. Reminders to attorneys were made with a personal visit to their office or by phone call.
Docketing in the Present Day
Docketing software has advanced tremendously in the past 20 years. There used to be several vendors that sold their software regionally. Just about every vendor currently claims that they offer a national or international docketing solution.
The technology has rapidly evolved due to great suggestions by docketing professionals and the fact that the courts and governmental agencies finally came into the 20th century. With the creation of the National Docketing Association, docketing professionals were exposed to all the vendors and vice versa.
Today, firms can file documents electronically, automatically capture the electronic case filing notifications (ECF) in their docketing system, calculate the deadlines using integrated rules, track changes to laws and regulations, automate invoicing and electronic billing, and so much more. But there is still something missing.
Docketing in the Future
History has proven that technology is a job creator, not a destroyer. So the advances with docketing software will improve efficiencies and become more effective with workflow processes, something they really lack right now.
The All Inclusive Docketing Software
Docketing software will become so advanced that you will only need to use one vendor and one system for everything. It will replace any need for rule and law books, legal research, document creation, and more. Some vendors claim they can do most of that now, but there is still room to develop further.
Docketing in the Cloud
Currently, firms are slow to adopt cloud computing. They use a wait-and-see approach to see how it pans out for other firms and businesses. There is no precedent established by the courts to determine direct or consequential damages if the data gets breached.
However, cloud docketing will eventually become the norm. With that prediction, more docketing professionals will be able to telework as everything will be available in the cloud.
Just like with law firms merging and closing their doors, the number of docketing vendors will decrease. Firms will not need to or want to deal with multiple vendors to provide software and services as the systems will include every feature possible.
Outsourcing Docketing Support
There are already several companies that offer professional services for intellectual property docketing as an outsourcing option for firms. It is a matter of time before litigation docketing is affected. Such vendors will offer their own people to use their own software to support law firms, just like IP currently does for their firm clients.