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Legal Deadlines and "Hard Calendaring" in GTD?

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  • Legal Deadlines and "Hard Calendaring" in GTD?

    The concept of "hard calendaring" only events that occur at a specific date/time as David talks about is something I find very helpful and rigorously follow, with one exception:

    As an attorney, I have to deal with what I'll call legal deadlines which must be met or very bad things happen. These are day, but not time, specific deadlines imposed by court orders and rules. For example, a Notice of Appeal must be filed by a certain day, but it can done anytime that day, as opposed to a meeting or appointment which has both a date and time associated with it.

    These are quite distinct from the usual types of business/personal deadlines that are discussed in the GTD book. The legal repercussions that flow from missing one are why I don't feel comfortable handling them as I would any other normal "Next Action" for fear that they will get lost in the NA forest and inadvertently missed.

    At the same time, I don't really want to clutter up my calendar by putting all legal deadlines on the hard calendar with some fictional time associated with them (for example, "File Notice of Appeal, 2-10-2005 @ 5 p.m.), when all that has to happen is that the action simply occur sometime BY or ON that day, not some specified time. That said, I don't rule out the hard calendar as the best place for these types of items if someone can make a convincing case that they deserve an exception!

    I rely TimeMatters for my project/case management, which is wonderfully flexible in separating hard calendared items v. Next Action/to-do items and linking everything to a case/project.

    If any other GTD-attorneys on the list have grappled with this question, I would appreciate hearing how you handle these types of "legal deadlines" in your system, regardless of what software/paper system you use.

  • #2
    Hi Alexander.

    There are a number of lawyers, guns & GTD threads on the board, so there are a number of lawyers here, myself included.

    Personally, I use the Palm system on my Clie, but have used paper before.

    I enter filing deadlines and such as untimed appointments for the day. That puts them at the top of the Palm calendar app. I usually set an alarm of 7-10 days (depending on the work involved).

    I've also listed these as context-based NA's with deadlines (these are the only things I attach due dates so, so if an NA has a due date, I know it's real).

    Hope this helps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Esquire
      I enter filing deadlines and such as untimed appointments for the day. That puts them at the top of the Palm calendar app.
      If you have many such items, the calendar entries are pushed out of the screen. The calendar becomes cluttered and really unusable.
      TesTeq

      Comment


      • #4
        Alexander,

        I do two things with those hard deadlines, which typically be filing/serving deadlines (filing an NOA, responding to a motion, responding to discovery requests, last day to file a motion, last day to serve discovery, or anything else that must be done on or before a certain day).

        First, each deadline represents a project, whether it's a current project or a someday/maybe project. So I track the project itself on a projects or SD/M list. I generally put the due date either in the project title or prominently in my notes and plan for the project (handwritten or electronic). This way, at any point in time I can know when that project must be completed (which comes in handy when people ask "When do we have file that opposition?").

        Second, each deadline also represents something that must be done on a certain day. So I put the hard deadline on my calendar with no time associated with it. It serves a couple of purposes there. Because I try to look first at my calendar when deciding what to do at any particular moment, that serves as a reminder that I need to get that specific thing done that day. It also is a marker that I refer to in a weekly review. When I go over my calendar during a weekly review, when I see deadlines like this on there, it reminds me to check my projects list and make sure it's on there, which in turn reminds me to check my plan for that project to make sure I'm on track.

        This works regardless of what tools are used. I personally use Outlook and a Palm, but the same idea works with paper or a combination.

        Best,

        Comment


        • #5
          TesTeq:
          As a practical matter, I never have more than 2 (or at most 3) such deadlines in a given day. If I had more than 3 sets of discovery or three motions/responses due on the same day, chances are I'd have handed off at least one of them, so having such deadlines take up too much space on the calendar is never really a problem for me.

          Comment


          • #6
            Alexander,

            My 2 cents:

            I treat every legal deadline as follows:

            1. I list it as a project, due date listed in the subject lind, and I also assign a proper NA. (I'm using Onenote)

            I have a special category for those projects called - "Submit". Every legal deadline is assigned this category.

            While I'm doing the WR I'm viewing all projects and NA'S by category. One of the phases I go through during the WR is examining the Submit category (as well as the "Hearing" category). Any legal deadline that is approaching and not yet completed, and that I feel more attention is needed - is also assigned another category - "Focus" - this is a category that is being looked at couple of times a day. It's just a way to bring the specific project, be it a legal deadline or something else, to my awarness, more often.

            2. As a precaution I'm also list the deadline in my calendar, with an appropriate remider.

            hth

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Esquire

              I enter filing deadlines and such as untimed appointments for the day. That puts them at the top of the Palm calendar app. I usually set an alarm of 7-10 days (depending on the work involved).

              I've also listed these as context-based NA's with deadlines (these are the only things I attach due dates so, so if an NA has a due date, I know it's real).

              Hope this helps.
              I do more or less the same thing. Deadlines are untimed appointments for the day with advance notice depending upon the type of event. They also typically have a related project and next action. I use the due date function on the task list as a tickler. The real due date is on the calendar. I have never had a problem with the untimed events filling up my calendar.

              Comment


              • #8
                The Outlawyr method

                What I've been doing is in Tasks (todos) on the Palm I have a category called "deadline" (other categories are "Next Action", "Project", and "Waiting For"). Any crucial deadline is entered as a Task with category "deadline", AND as a calendar entry for that day with no time set. I'll set an alarm on one or the other. There will also be a next action. So for example, if I have a brief due on 3/2 in the Joe Smith case, I'll have the following related to that case in tasks:

                Smith, Joe - write first draft of brief - 2/20/05 - Next Action
                Smith, Joe - Brief Due - 3/2/05 - Deadline
                Smith, Joe - Trial - Project

                I actually don't need the Project there, but it's a nice backup system in case I complete a Next Action without entering a new one.

                Lately, I've been trying not to complete tasks but rather edit them. So after I finish the first draft, I'll edit the Next Action to:

                Smith, Joe - review/edit first draft of brief - 2/21/05 - Next Action

                I also sometimes enter the next Next Action in parens, so the first Next Action would have been:

                Smith, Joe - write first draft of brief (review/edit) - 2/20/05 - Next Action

                I sort of miss the fun of checking off a task and seeing it disappear, but as I do this more I find it makes more sense. Give it a try and tell me what you think.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Alexander.

                  I'm not a lawyer but I did think this is the testimony to cross-examine

                  I fear that they will get lost in the NA forest and inadvertently missed
                  Your Next Action could be "File Notice of Appeal, before 2-10-2005 @ 5 p.m."

                  It really is a Next Action. You have all the information you need, you understand the case, you understand the law, you understand the filing procedure, you have the court's fax number or email address, or you have the messenger service phone number and your account number, etc. - there really are NO prerequisites.

                  If it takes no more than two minutes, you should do it now. Otherwise, you need to do it - and before the deadline.

                  What's the context for filing? Do you file by telephone? Do you write a document? Do you delegate it to your assistant? Can you only do it at the office? Can you file a notice of appeal from home?

                  If you can limit the context, then you can put it onto a Next Action list limited by context. Suppose you file by telephone, and only during business hours. Now you can have a context, "@Telephone - business hours." Your context has one item: File notice of appeal. Now you have to make sure your schedule includes enough telephone time during business hour to do your filing. Do you need to schedule half an hour every business day to do all your business telephone calls?

                  If you should write these routine documents yourself on your computer, and this can happen at work or at your home office, then you have an Action Item for the "@Computer" context. Do you need an hour a day to complete all the documents you have to process on your computer?

                  If you have to do anything BEFORE you can file, then that precondition is your next action. Your real Next Action might NOT be "File Motion of Appeal," but "Delegate assistant to look up appeal rules related to the Smith case" or "Call the Smiths to discuss their appeal" or "Get fax number of the appellate court that would handle the Smith appeal." (I'm taking a guess at lawyer stuff...)

                  Does this help?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: The Outlawyr method

                    Originally posted by outlawyr
                    Lately, I've been trying not to complete tasks but rather edit them.
                    This is what I do (the pigpog method). I just keep editing the next action. I keep future next actions in the attached note. Although it lacks some of the advantages of the hierarchical planning methods, it is very easy and quick.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yeah, I think I'm moving more and more to the pigpog method as time goes by. There are two main differences in what I'm doing.
                      1) I still have a projects list, even though it's redundant, since the project name is the client name. It still helps. Some cases are moving toward settlement, some toward trial, some either or. So I can look at just the projects list (filter by category in Tasks) and see:

                      Applebaum, Adam - Trial
                      Baxter, Barry - Settlement
                      Cosi, Casey - Trial (possible low settlement)

                      Etc. It also serves as a safety list in case I check off a next action (force of habit) rather than edit it. Pig Pog deals with that risk by keeping checked actions visible and doing a weekly purge, but that's too messy for me. I can't stand seeing all those crossed off tasks.

                      2) Rather than hide the next Next Action in notes, I stick it in parens right along with the Next Action. This can help keep your momentum going when there are two logical tasks that should be done together. Obviously, if there are more, PigPog makes more sense.

                      In general, the more important a case or deadline is, the more reduntantly it gets entered on my Palm (Tasks as Next Action and Deadline and Project, Calendar as deadline). As a lawyer, I simply can't afford to make a mistake on certain things.

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