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Foundations eChapter 4

Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 68

Chapter 4: Technology, Software,

Calendaring, and Ethics

Learning Objectives

• Explore the use of technology in the law office

• Describe ethical parameters and implications for non-compliance associated with
the use of technology in the law office

• Determine impacts of technology on the legal profession impacting paralegal
roles and responsibilities
• Detail calendaring requirements for procedural compliance in various jurisdictions

Evaluate legal software solutions for case management, timekeeping, and billing
• Demonstrate paralegal skills associated with technology, calendaring, and billing

Section 4.1: Introduction to Technology

Section 4.2: Introduction to Legal Calendaring
Section 4.3: Billing Section 4.4: Law Practice Management Software

Section 4.5: Technology and Your Career

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69 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics


Law offices are increasing their efficiency and productivity by increasing their use of available
technology. Civil litigation has been particularly impacted by the use of technological advances,
since this field often involves a substantial docket and immense amounts of discovery. Since tech-
nology changes so quickly, it benefits paralegals to stay up-to-date as much as possible on the op-
tions that can enhance job productivity. Courts are also increasingly turning to technology, and the
law office that lags behind the courts in its use of technology will find it difficult to move cases
The management of law offices has been drastically changed by technology. While tasks such as
calendaring and billing used to depend upon pen and paper or rudimentary typewriters, now there
are a myriad of software options to automatically calendar dates, add and subtract billable time,
and even assemble complicated documents. When attorneys and paralegals use calendaring soft-
ware online or downloaded onto their computers, it can avoid costly malpractice incidents and/or
ethics violations, by automatically reminding them about deadlines and scheduling conflicts.
In addition to the impact that technology has had on legal research capabilities, which is signifi-
cant, there are many software programs out there that are used for case management and docu-
ment assembly. Paralegals are key users of all of this software, and often they use it to track and
manage not just their own time, but that of the attorneys they work with. In this Chapter, we are
going to cover several opportunities to integrate technology into the law office, how to use it to
save time and perform tasks more efficiently, and what the paralegal’s role is in implementing

Section 4.1: Introduction to Technology

For some time now, it has been clear that technology is essential to the modern practice of law.
From mandatory e-Filing rules, to practice management software, to storing data on the ubiqui-
tous “cloud,” today’s law office relies on
hardware and software to make it work. Par-
alegals interact with this technology every PRACTICE ON POINT
day as a part of their jobs. In recent years,
options for technology in the law office have
proliferated extensively, so there is more to
learn about this area than ever before. Per- Using Law Office Software
haps one of the greatest challenges to tech-
nology is that it is impossible to master be- In order to ensure that your office is using the
cause it is not stagnant. Often, shortly after best software available, follow these tips:
software is learned, an update or revised edi- •
tion is available. Yesterday’s top-of-the-line Install all suggested updates, unless your IT
professional advises against it
data security is today’s bargain deal. None-
theless, the uses of technology in the prac- • When software is not working for your purposes,
tice of law are something you must study look for free trials for alternative solutions
and understand as part of your preparation • Look for software that integrates smoothly with
to be successful in today’s job market. In software that is currently utilized in the office
fact, many senior attorneys will be relying • Look for software that integrates smoothly with
upon paralegals to guide them through the other software you already have

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 70
continuing technology revolution, which
makes your mastery of the different aspects of
technology all the more crucial to great job
performance in the office.

Different Ways Technology is WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Used in the Law Office

In some offices, technology drives almost eve-
ry aspect of office management and legal prac- Using Document Assembly Software
tice. “Paperless” law offices have foregone fil-
ing cabinets and instead keep virtually all client
documentation on the cloud, even signed pa- How is document assembly software different
pers. “Virtual” law offices have sprouted up from document management software?
across the country and are no longer a fringe
idea. Indeed, some law offices are now run
with no brick and mortar building at all. On
the other end of the spectrum are offices
where the attorneys in charge are hesitant to
use available technology, and perhaps unfamiliar with its capabilities. As a new paralegal, you can
make a great impression in your first job by demonstrating your knowledge of what technology can
do to increase efficiency in the practice of law. Let’s cover some of the most important ways tech-
nology is used in the modern law office.

PDF Conversion Software

It is safe to say that Adobe software has sin-
glehandedly changed the way that law offic-
ETHICS CHECK es do business. It has enabled offices to go

paperless by scanning their documents and
Safeguarding Client Data saving as PDFs, it has given rise to e-
signature technology such as that used by
Always safeguard client data by safeguarding your DocuSign, and it has allowed lawyers and
hardware and software.
paralegals to scan in a document, use OCR
technology (Optical Character Recognition)
✓ Never leave your computer open and to make it editable, and then make im-
unattended portant changes without having to retype
the entire document. It also aides in encrypt-
✓ Use encrypted email whenever you are sending ing and securing documents. Although there
sensitive information are many less expensive alternates to Adobe
software—such as Nitro Pro—Adobe con-
✓ Keep work documents on your work computer, tinues to be the industry leader in PDF con-
never your personal one version software.
Document Assembly Software
Documents are a ubiquitous aspect of legal
life, whether the law office does primarily

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71 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics

litigation or transactional work. Years ago, most lawyers could only piece together documents out
of form files, which are libraries of forms kept in the office and organized by document type, or
form manuals, which are published reference books of generic form files. Most law offices still
keep and use these resources to a certain extent, but document assembly software has quickly
emerged as the more efficient option. Essentially, the software allows a user to pick a type of docu-
ment (such as a mortgage or a motion to dismiss) and then is guided through a series of questions
and provision options to reach a finished result that is customized to the client’s needs. Doc &
Form Builder by Westlaw is one of the leaders in document assembly software, but there are many
less expensive alternatives in each state. You will hear many attorneys refer to Doc & Form Builder
as ProDoc, which was the name of this software when it was available as a downloaded software.
Like many other software applications, it is now available only as a monthly subscription based in
the cloud, and has been rebranded under its new name. Doc & Form Builder is available custom-
ized to several states, including Florida.

Practice Management Software
We cover practice management software in more depth below, because it is that important to the

running of a successful law office. Alternatively
referred to as case management software, this is
technology that provides a framework for or-
HOT TOPICS ganizing everything and anything to do with the

Dropbox Hack of 2012 cases or transactional matters that clients bring
in the door. It can facilitate conflict checks to
ensure lawyers taking on a new matter have no
Data breaches are a serious con- ethical conflicts, it can manage email, assist with
cern for lawyers using the cloud to calendaring deadlines, invoice clients, and much
store client information. In 2016, more.
Dropbox confirmed that back in
2012 68 million users’ login creden- Considerations for Ensuring
tials were hacked. To decrease the Ethical Compliance with the Use
likelihood of losing control over of Technology
sensitive information and docu-
ments, everyone in your office The use of technology brings with it specific
should: concerns regarding its ethical use. This includes
privacy and safeguarding of client information,
 Change passwords regularly and competent use of technology. As more data

 Upgrade to subscriptions with is moved from office hardware to cloud-based
encryption whenever possible servers, and accessed remotely, it is imperative
that lawyers and paralegals take appropriate
measures to prevent hackers from gaining ac-
cess. This means staying on top of all available
updates, paying for premium encryption options, and appropriately safeguarding the tools that are
used to access data. For example, cloud computing has allowed lawyers and paralegals to work
from anywhere. However, all the encryption protection in the world will not adequately safeguard
client data if a lawyer’s laptop is left open in a coffee shop while he or she runs to the restroom, or
waits in line to order. Sometimes, reliance upon technical safeguards can cause people to have a
false sense of security and forego common sense precautions. Always consider whether your ac-

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 72
tions adequately protect sensitive client infor-
mation. Never leave your computer or
smartphone where it can be accessed by others, WHAT WOULD
and always use password protection on your YOU DO?
screensaver, even within the office.

Another unique way that use of technology has
brought up ethical compliance issues is the sub- Refusal to Upgrade
ject of required technical competence in attor-
neys, especially senior practitioners who have A senior attorney you work with refuses
not embraced technology in the same way that to upgrade his software or learn how to e-
lawyers fresh out of law school have. To what File. Starting next year, the jurisdiction
extent is a lawyer ethically required to stay up you are in will mandate e-Filing for all li-
to date on technology changes that either affect censed attorneys. The attorney also shows
his or her clients, or have the ability to material- other signs of resisting technology that
ly affect their cases? This is a difficult question, could make his practice of law easier.
but one that the ABA and various state bars What would you do?
have attempted to begin to answer. For exam-
ple, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Con-
duct state in Rule 1.1 that a “lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent

representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably neces-
sary for the representation.”

Rules of professional responsibility or conduct always have commentary, provided by the ABA or
the state’s bar, that explain, clarify, and provide examples for the rules. Commentary to Rule 1.1
states that providing competent representation means “a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in
the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” This
places a duty upon lawyers, and ostensibly the paralegals with which they work, to stay up-to-date
on technology relevant to the practice of law. Indeed, there are emerging (and controversial) cases
where attorneys have been disciplined based upon improper or inadequate use of technology in
their law practice.
The Importance of Staying up to
Date on Technology Changes

Since the lawyers you work with are relying
upon you to aid them in their legal work, it is
important for paralegals to stay up to date on
changes in technology. It will be impossible to
do the best possible version of your job with-
out knowing how these continual changes af-
fect your clients and affect cases. Perhaps
most importantly, the judicial system’s em-
brace of technology means that most law of-
fices cannot even file a case or a motion with-
out staying up to date on e-Filing processes,
OCR procedures in uploaded documents, and
other court clerk requirements.

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73 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics
Different Levels of Complexity

The degree to which technology adds complexity to your work life will be dependent upon the na-
ture of the legal work you do and what technology is available to do it. Some aspects of technology,
such as practice management software, data storage, and smartphones, impact all law offices and
are very user friendly. Other types of technology, such as metadata in e-Discovery, can be quite
complicated to master and lawyers tend to hire a specialized company to assist them with its use. It
is not necessary to attempt to master as many types of technology as possible before starting your
first job. Instead, it is more important to learn about the various categories of available software
and cloud options, as well as study how technology impacts the legal field in general.
How Technology Has Impacted Work in the Legal Field

Technology has had a tremendous impact
in the legal field, from law offices, to
courthouses, to how evidence is presented,
and witness testimony is given. In many
ways, technology has helped to even the
playing field between big law firms and PARALEGAL PERSPECTIVE
solo or small firm attorneys. Resources
that were once prohibitively expensive for
small offices, such as in-house dedicated Impact of Technology
servers for data storage, have been re-
placed by cost-efficient solutions such as Technology impacts the legal field in a myriad of
subscription plans for encrypted cloud different areas. Here are some of the main areas
storage. Legal practice is no longer con- technology has changed the everyday practice
fined to the office for any attorney, wheth- of law:
er they work at the largest law firm or the • Law offices (legal research, telecommuting,
smallest, thanks to the prevalence of lap- PDF documents)
tops and smartphones. Technology brings
law offices together, allowing lawyers and • Court systems (court websites, e-Filing)
paralegals to work seamlessly even when • Trial and discovery production (PowerPoint
miles apart, and at the same time it has presentations, e-Discovery, video depositions)
widened their reach. A lawyer in Orlando
might set up a corporation for a client they
have never met in person who lives and works in Miami, because the representation agreement can
be e-signed, the payment sent through PayPal, and the entity formed through the Florida Depart-
ment of State’s website. All of this is possible through the increased use of technology to practice
Perhaps the largest and most important part that technology has played in the evolution of the
modern-day law office is in the field of legal research. Large, paid subscription databases such as
Westlaw and LexisNexis have transformed the way that law is practiced. Prior to the widespread
advancement of online legal research databases, lawyers and paralegals had only two options to re-
search the law. Either they took a trip to the local law library or courthouse library every time they
had a novel question of law to research, or they practiced in firms large enough to have their own
legal libraries within the building.

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 74

However, that is no longer the case. Even
solo attorneys and very small firms can
afford legal research subscription plans,
but there are also free online databases
that get the job done, albeit without all of
the bells and whistles that come with paid
subscriptions. For example, Google
Scholar is one of the well-known free
online databases that includes legal re-
search resources. FindLaw and Justia are
two more non-paid databases that can be
accessed for free, anytime, from any-
where, with internet access.
Courts have also been transformed by the
use of technology. Gone are the days
when law firms employed couriers or
“runners” to take documents in person to
the courthouse to file by 5 pm. Today, e-
Filing is the standard, and is mandated for

attorneys in some jurisdictions. Technology within the courtroom has evolved as well. Most trials
now make use of PowerPoint presentations, projections, and video depositions, just to name a few
ways that technology is used. It is a rare courtroom that does not have audio and video hardware
installed, and many courts hold technology training days and seminars several times a year to allow
lawyers to familiarize themselves with the equipment they can expect to find available to them in

Even witness testimony and presentation of other evidence has changed. Witnesses who are una-
vailable at the time of trial can be deposed ahead of time, and their answers recorded on camera to
be replayed to a jury if allowed under procedural rules. This technology allows jurors to observe the
witness’ inflection and body language, just as if
their testimony were being given live at trial. KEY TERMS
Many software companies have developed litiga-
tion-specific software for lawyers to use at trial, Metadata
including Summation, Concordance, and Case-
map. These software programs organize eviden-
tiary documents and other materials, including Metadata — a set of data that de-
deposition transcripts, documents produced from scribes and gives information about
opposing counsel, and correspondence, to aid in other, secondary data.
their presentation at trial.

Network Data Security and Descriptive metadata — provides
Metadata information related to identification

Law offices have a duty to safeguard client data. and discovery of the secondary data.
This means utilizing appropriate and up-to-date
security measures for their computer network.
Since information technology is a highly special-

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75 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics

ized field, virtually all offices use IT specialists to
design and upkeep their computer networks. For-
tunately for lawyers and paralegals, this relieves
them of the duty to become technology specialists
themselves. However, it is important to know ETHICS CHECK
enough to be sure that network data security is
being taken seriously. Staying Compliant
Metadata is sometimes called “data about data.” As legal technology continues to advance
It is hidden information embedded in electronic at a brisk rate, it is imperative that
files, including PDFs and emails, that offers de- paralegals continue to monitor their use of
tails about who created a document, when it was technology to ensure that it stays
created, when it was sent, to whom it was sent, compliant with Rules of Professional
and so forth. Metadata can tell a user when a Conduct/Responsibility. Ask yourself the
Word document was changed, what size text is in following questions:
different portions of the document, and which  Is the information sufficiently guarded?
authors worked on it. When emailing documents,
there is metadata available to show not just when  Who has access to it?
the email was drafted and sent, but also infor-  What are the results of a data breach?
mation about the documents attached to the
email. Metadata is now commonly requested as
part of e-Discovery and can be used as crucial
evidence at trial. Its details can provide a context
for other information, and is crucial to authenticating documents and emails in many lawsuits.
The Future of Legal Technology

Innovative technology is constantly being developed for use in the legal field. Now more than ever,
it is important for both lawyers and paralegals to be consistently learning and improving their skills
in the use of technology, both to stay ethically compliant and to provide the best possible represen-
tation and results for their clients. Histori-
cally, lawyers have not been noted for their
KEY TAKEAWAYS early embrace of technology, but with

younger generations now stepping up to
lead law firms, that is slowly changing. It is
Legal Calendaring likely that the next few years will see a sub-
stantial proliferation of technological op-
The term “legal calendaring” refers to scheduling the tions available to lawyers and paralegals, in-
day to day deadlines of a law office, particularly the cluding more cloud computing options,
legally significant dates, such as court deadlines. software that can automate more tasks than
Legal calendaring includes all of the following:
ever before, and increased access to legal
 Court-imposed deadlines services through online options that con-
nect law firms with clients far away.
 Deadlines imposed by the rules of civil
procedure Section 4.2: Introduction

 Appointments and times for client matters, such to Legal Calendaring
as mediations, settlements, and depositions Law firms and scheduling go together like
peanut butter and jelly. As a paralegal, one

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 76

of your primary duties will be to manage the calendars of attorneys you work with, which will in-
clude court dates, case deadlines, deposition times, discovery cut-offs, statutes of limitations, con-
ference dates, and much more. Legal calendaring often centers around the dates most important in
client matters, but also includes the day-to-day scheduling needs of the attorneys, and yes, even the
paralegals, within the firm. Many offices use practice management software to facilitate their legal
calendaring, while others use software that is not specific to the legal industry, such as Outlook’s
calendar function. Still other offices might use old fashioned paper desk calendars to track their
deadlines and appointments.
Responsibilities of the

WHAT WOULD Paralegal
YOU DO? Calendaring requires an attention to detail,
especially when managing the calendars of
more than one attorney. How you calendar
Missed Deadline will depend in large part on whether you are
using practice management software with
You have just discovered that, unfortu- calendaring capabilities, a stand-alone calen-
nately, a very important deadline has been dar such as Outlook’s calendar, or a paper
missed in a lawsuit covered by another calendar system. If you are using practice
paralegal in your office because the dead- management software, you’ll be able to keep
line was left off the legal calendar. The oth- different calendars based on client, case, and
er paralegal, when you confront him, begs attorney. When necessary, you should be
you not to tell the attorney in charge of able to merge or sort through schedules,
the case. What would you do? such as pulling up all deadlines associated
with a particular case, or all scheduling com-


mitments for one attorney. However you manage the
calendars, it is your responsibility to keep them accurate- Appellate Court
ly updated in an environment where deadlines can Appellate court is alternatively
change frequently. The best advice for successfully man- called the court of appeals, or
aging a legal calendar is to double- and triple-check your appeals court, or sometimes the
dates. This is especially important when calendaring court of second instance. Appel-
court deadlines. late courts are higher than trial
courts, and are empowered to
hear the appeals of those parties
Ensuring Compliance with Timeframes who have lost at the trial court
and Deadlines level, and to review the decisions

All law offices run on deadlines, but litigation firms take of the trial court judge for com-
this to an entirely different level. Most rules of civil pro- pliance with the law and facts.
cedure in federal and state courts, including Florida, state Appellate timelines are delineat-
deadlines as a reference of days from an event. For ex- ed in procedural rules and must
ample, in Florida, a plaintiff is allowed up to 120 calen- be calendared carefully.
dar days to serve a complaint and summons on a defend-

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77 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics
ant. If your office represents the plain-
tiff, the first thing you want to do after
filing the case is to calendar 120 days
out from the date of filing. You will HOT TOPICS
want to mark not just that date, but
typically a reminder that is a week or Time in a Day
two from the actual deadline, as well.
Some rules of civil procedure require A paralegal’s day can be divided into billable
paralegals to calendar days but skip time, trackable time, and non-trackable time:
Saturdays and holidays. This makes
calendaring those day much more  Billable time is time spent doing legal work
complex. It is always a good idea to on a client’s behalf, such as research into
their possible causes of action.
double- and triple-check your dates
for this reason.
 Trackable time is time spent doing substan-
Calendaring correctly is not just good tive administrative tasks, such as preparing
office management, it is also an ethical certified mail for a case or calling a hospital
duty to clients. If you miscount dates about medical records. In some offices, this
and do not serve a defendant in time, time is credited to the paralegal’s annual
usually you can refile the case. Howev- goal.
er, what if the statute of limitations
passes during those 120 days? In that  Non-trackable time is time spent doing
scenario, the client is now barred from purely administrative tasks, such as filing or
answering the telephone.
bringing their lawsuit a second time.
Now the client is left without relief or
remedy—except suing the attorney for
malpractice. In addition, calendaring
deadlines for discovery and motions are necessary in order to be fair to opposing counsel, and re-
spectful of the court’s limited resources. Even if it may be possible to ask for more time because of
a missed date, doing so repeatedly will likely be viewed as unethical as well as discourteous to oth-
ers involved in the case.

Another issue to be aware of is the differ-
ence in urgency between deadlines in trial
court and in appellate court. Missing a filing
deadline to seek appellate relief can be dev-
astating to a client’s case. Knowing these
deadlines and how they are calculated are
important, as well as becoming familiar with
rules in your particular jurisdiction that allow
for extensions relating to appeals, and the
corresponding requirements to seek exten-

Implications of Calendaring
When calendaring errors do happen, they

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 78
have the potential to cause a lot of problems. If a calendaring error results in a substantial disad-
vantage to the client’s case, that could open the attorney and the law firm up to the possibility of a
malpractice lawsuit by the client. In addition, if the error resulted from gross negligence or haphaz-
ard management of cases, it is possible that the attorney in charge of the case will face sanctions
from the state bar, such as a reprimand, suspension from the practice of law, or even disbarment.
Even though paralegals are routinely put in charge of calendaring, it is the attorneys who retain re-
sponsibility for their paralegals’ compliance with court and statutory deadlines.
Section 4.3: Billing

In the majority of legal environments, including almost all private law firms, paralegals are required
to track the time they spend working on client matters. Many times, paralegals also track, catego-
rize, and input the time that the attorneys they
work with spend on client matters. If the office
does not have a designated non-paralegal office HOT TOPICS
manager, then a paralegal is likely in charge of
running the billing system, and keeping track of
time within the office. The time spent on a cli- Quarter Hour Increments
ent’s case is important to track accurately be-
cause that time is billed to the client. Most par- Some law offices bill their hours
alegals are expected to bill a certain number of in quarters, which uses the fol-
hours per month and per year, commonly re- lowing chart of billing time:
ferred to as “minimum billable hours.” Attor- 0-15 minutes = 0.25 hour
neys, especially associates and junior level attor-
neys, also have billable hour goals. 16-30 minutes = 0.5 hour

This section will focus on the various ways that 31-45 minutes = 0.75 hour
time is tracked, the different ways that attor- 46-60 minutes = 1.00 hour
neys bill for their time, the importance of bill-
ing accurately, and how to distinguish between
billable and non-billable tasks. When you ac-
cept a new job, it is important to understand upfront what the firm’s expectations are for your bill-
able hours, and whether it is also expected that you track your non-billable time on projects. Many
times, hours spent on a transaction or a case are adjusted downward by the managing attorney be-
fore the bill is sent out to a client. There can be many reasons to do this, but the most frequent is
because the time spent on a project or task is excessive compared to how much time it would take
for someone experienced to finish it. Do not be alarmed or upset if you see your time adjusted in
this way in the final bill, especially when you are a new paralegal and still learning. However, do
make sure you know ahead of time whether your billable hours requirement counts the time you
truly spend or the time that was subsequently billed. And, never adjust your own bill; always sub-
mit your hours accurately and allow the attorney or senior paralegal to make adjustments.
Timesheets vs. Software

Most modern-day law offices track their billable time through either a comprehensive law practice
management software that has time tracking or time management aspects, or a specialized time
tracking software. Common software programs for only tracking time include Bill4Time,
Timeslips, and eBillity. More often, attorneys rely upon the software they already use for law prac-

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79 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics
tice management, such as Clio or MyCase, to en-
ter and bill time.
PRACTICE ON POINT For those offices that choose not to use special-

ized software, the usual method is to create time-
sheets in the form of spreadsheets. These spread-
sheets can be created in programs such as Excel
Logging Billable Hours and Word. At their most basic form, they are
simply tables with rows or columns for client or
Paralegals should use the following best matter, date, description of the task or services,
practices when logging their billable time: and time spent. As a paralegal who is entering the
legal field now, you will most likely track time
• Log it immediately, before you forget through some type of software. Using software is
more efficient than using timesheets, because
• Use codes or shorthand to note the timesheets require that more time be spent on the
type of work that was done
process of actually recording billable time. The
timesheets are typically recorded one per day per
• Note start and end times
attorney across all client matters worked on in that
• Use detailed descriptions of the day, which means a paralegal or administrative
work staff spends additional time consolidating, recon-
ciling, and re-entering data into spreadsheets or
files organized by client. Then, of course, there must be an additional spreadsheet that tracks the
lawyer’s or paralegal’s billable hours by month or year. Using software for the task of entering and
organizing time can save hundreds of hours a year, even in a relatively small law office. Although
knowledge of calendaring should prepare you to use either software programs or old-fashioned
paper calendars, if you do find yourself working for an employer who has not yet taken advantage
of software options, this is a great way to suggest helpful technology for the office.

Entering in Increments

Legal work is billed in increments, which
are typically based on either six minutes
or fifteen minutes, rounded up to the KEY TAKEAWAYS
nearest increment. In other words, if
you work in an office that bases its bill-
ing on six-minute increments, then you Profitable Time
would enter time according to the fol-
lowing chart: It makes smart business sense for attorneys to bill clients
for time that paralegals spend on legal tasks. Doing so
0-6 minutes = 0.1 hour
 Increase firm profits by billing for paralegals’ time
31-36 minutes = 0.6 hour
 Free up attorneys’ time for work only attorneys can
7-12 minutes = 0.2 hour
37-42 minutes = 0.7 hour  Allow attorneys to bill more for time spent on

13-18 minutes = 0.3 hour attorney-only work

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 80

43-48 minutes = 0.8 hour
19-24 minutes = 0.4 hour

49-54 minutes = 0.9 hour
25-30 minutes = 0.5 hour

55-60 minutes = 1.0 hour
The six-minute increment is the traditional way to break down the billable hour, because it divides
a single hour into ten sections, which makes
calculations easier. However, there is no
rule saying that lawyers must use six-minute
increments. Some use 15-minutes, other
may use 10, or even 3. Still others may
round to the nearest minute.

Simultaneous Entries

Billing two or more clients for the same
time, or simultaneous billing entries, is what ETHICAL COMPASS
is known in the legal world as “double bill-
ing.” Sometimes, double billing is an uneth-
ical way that lawyers pad their bills to cli- Fee Agreements
ents to increase the amount on the invoice.
Other times, there is an argument to be Fee agreements vary widely from client to
made that a lawyer is doing work, or travel- client, even within the same law firm. Why
ing, or a combination of the two, for two would a lawyer charge some of his or her clients
different clients at the exact same time. For more money per hour than others? Do you
example, it is customary for lawyers to think doing so violates any ethical rules?
charge for their time spent traveling. If
Smith (who is a lawyer) is on a billable
plane ride one hour long to see Client A,
and while on the flight he spends that hour
working on drafting a complaint in the case he has for Client B, then the lawyer may request that
you simultaneously enter billable time for both clients.

While double billing is not an illegal practice, it is considered unethical by the American Bar Asso-
ciation and by state bar associations, including the Florida Bar. In 1993, the ABA Standing Com-
mittee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 93-379, “Billing for Pro-
fessional Fees, Disbursements and Other Expenses” which discussed the inappropriateness of
double billing. The reason that double billing is generally considered an unethical practice is that
the attorney should adjust bills to accurately reflect the work that is done and the bill that is earned.
A lawyer who flies for one hour while working for that hour has not done two hours of billable
work—at least, not according to state bars. To do so results in an unreasonable fee for the attor-
ney, which is contrary to the ethical rules that attorneys must adhere to at all times.
Distinguish Between Billable and Non-Billable Tasks

Good billing practices require you to be timely and detailed when tracking your hours on a task.

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81 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics
You should also keep in mind whether the case or transaction you are working on is being billed on
an hourly rate, a contingency basis, or a flat-rate fee case. This will affect whether you put in an
hourly rate multiplied by time spent in order to create the final bill. However, you should always
accurately track your time, no matter regardless of the case billing structure. The final bill to the
client should be consistent with the retainer agreement that the client signed.
When clients are on a flat-fee or contingency billing structure, there is less need to differentiate in
your time entries between what would normally be billable and non-billable tasks. In a flat-fee mat-
ter, the client pays a single agreed-upon sum for the
attorney to handle the entire matter. Certain types
of work lend themselves better to flat-fee arrange-
ments. These are usually not lawsuits. For example,
to set up an LLC or a corporation for a client, the
attorney knows ahead of time approximately how WHAT DO YOU
many hours of work it will take, so he or she may
offer such services on a flat-fee basis. THINK?

Contingency fee arrangements are most common When does Florida allow
in personal injury lawsuits, where recovery is not contingency fees?
certain and clients often do not have sufficient re-
sources to hire an attorney. By offering to take Contingency fees are especially popular
these cases on a contingency fee basis, the client with plaintiffs who do not have the funds
can afford to hire an attorney knowing he or she to hire a lawyer upfront. What do you
does not have to pay anything if the case is lost. think Florida’s requirements are for
Some law offices track their time very carefully ethical contingency fees?
even on contingency fee cases, in case the judge or
client ever contends that the lawyer did not
properly earn their fee. Other offices do not track
their time on contingency fee cases, since the fee is
earned when the case is won or settled, regardless
of how many hours were put into it. There is an argument to be made for the importance associat-
ed with having a paper trail for work done on a case, on many levels.
Regardless of the type of law office you work for, as a paralegal student you should be able to dis-
tinguish between billable and non-billable tasks. Typically, anything administrative is non-billable.
This includes tasks not directly related to any one particular case, such as answering telephones
and filing. In addition, some law offices do not bill clients for matter-specific tasks that are non-
legal, such as preparing certified mail for demand letters. Billable tasks do include any correspond-
ence with the client, whether via phone, email, in person, or letter, as well as research and legal
work. Since billable and non-billable tasks are sometimes agreed to in the client’s retainer agree-
ment, be sure to check with the attorney or review the agreement to see what is billable in each
Section 4.4: Law Practice Management Software

Law practice management software, also commonly called case management software, helps to run
a law office. There is a proliferation of software options on the market, some of which are cloud-
based (meaning all data is stored on remote servers) and some of which are hardware-based

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 82

(meaning the software is downloaded to your computer and data is stored on the computer as
well). When choosing practice management software, some come with many bells and whistles,
while others are streamlined and limited in their tasks. Generally, the more that a software purports
to do, the more expensive it will be to purchase. Not every law office is opting to use practice
management software, but most do.

What Does Practice Management Software Do?
The most advanced practice management software does just about everything: calendaring, time
entries, document management, email integration, and invoicing. While many market themselves as
an all-in-one solution to running a law office, there are other options out there that don’t offer
benefits such as invoicing and email integra-
tion. Choosing a software system is based on
evaluating what the needs are of the office,
what the software features include, and what HOT TOPICS
price point the attorneys are comfortable pay-
ing. Typically, the cost to use practice manage- Leading Practice
ment software is a monthly per-attorney fee of Management Software
approximately $40-$70.
Some of the leading practice man-
Litigation Firms vs. Transaction- agement software options are:
al Firms
 Clio
Some practice management software is market-  MyCase
ed specifically to litigation firms, and its organi-  Time Matters
zation tends to lend itself well to cases rather  Rocket Matter
than transactional matters. An example is Case-  Abacus Law
Map, practice management software offered by  PracticePanther
the legal research powerhouse LexisNexis.  Amicus Attorney
CaseMap is marketed as a litigation solution  Filevine
geared especially at smaller law firms and solo  HoudiniESQ
attorneys. It has functions specifically for or-  Firm Central
ganizing evidence, documents, and research
pertaining to lawsuits. Other software options
are favored by transactional attorneys, while
many industry leaders—such as Clio—are equally liked by both litigation and transactional firms.
Major Products

Let’s take a look at some of the major players in the practice management software market. Many
small-to-mid-size firms use Clio, which is set up to handle both litigation and transactional matters
equally well. Clio also integrates seamlessly with many types of third-party software, such as Quick-
Books, a popular accounting software, and LawPay, a popular credit card payment system. MyCase
is another brand of practice management software that, like Clio, is geared toward both litigation
and transactional work. It can track time, automate billing, and manage matters in customizable
ways. A third option is Time Matters, which is offered by LexisNexis as a practice management
solution for management, billing, scheduling, and more. Rocket Matter is a fourth popular option
for tracking time, invoicing clients, and receiving payments. In addition to these four software op-

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83 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics

tions, there are dozens of additional options

Cloud Computing
By now, everyone has heard of “the cloud” and
“doing business in the cloud.” Many law offices
keep their client data and case data stored on
the cloud, but you might be wondering what
exactly that means. The cloud is not a physical
location, although it involves a physical network
of servers somewhere that do store data.
“Cloud” is a tech term for storing data and run-
ning programs off-site from where you are do-
ing the work. Many software suites that are
commonly used in law offices, including Mi-
crosoft Office and Adobe Creative, are now
offered as subscription services that are cloud-
based instead of by purchasing physical CDs to
run the software. Understand that the cloud is
not one physical network of servers. It is any
network of servers that is meant to offer data
storage or run programs over the Internet off-

site from its users. Law offices benefit from cloud computing because it reduces both cost and lia-
bility. In the past, a law office that wanted a dedicated server for storage of sensitive information
would have to purchase one and house it somewhere in the same building as the office. Now, law
offices can rent those services. In addition, storing data off-site in more protected locations better
shields it from theft, sabotage, fire, flooding, and other physical dangers. Dropbox and Google
Drive are two common cloud data storage options, but more expensive and more secure options
Ethical Considerations When
Utilizing Practice Management

The most significant ethical consideration as re- WHAT DO YOU THINK?
lates to practice management software is keeping
client information stored on the cloud. As such,
it is important that whatever software solution is The Ethics of Using
utilized in the law office is vetted for accountable the Cloud
and secure data security practices. Many of the
leading practice management software companies What are the ethical implications of using
invest heavily into making data as secure as possi- cloud-based practice management
ble, which involves both safeguarding the physi- software?
cal server locations and also encrypting infor-
mation as it is sent and received between law of-
fice and servers.

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 84
Section 4.5: Technology and Your Career

Technology is sure to play an important part in your future career. The effective use of technology
is one way to separate the successful from the unsuccessful, since there is a continual and increased
need to understand and implement new areas of
technology that are relevant to the practice of law.
As you transition from student to professional
paralegal, be mindful of trends in technology and
consistently explore opportunities in which
emerging technology can be put to use in innova-
tive ways to make your law office a more produc-
tive place to work. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Embracing Changing Technology
It is true that technology changes at an alarmingly Advantages and Risks of On-Site Servers
fast rate, and it is impossible to either hold on to
past ways of doing things forever or to keep up What are the advantages and risks of cloud
with the changing nature of all new products and computing as compared to keeping all
services without falling behind the learning curve servers on-premises?
at some juncture. As long as you are embracing
the new technological changes that can make the
most difference to legal practice, you will be in a
great position to help the office in which you
work. One of the best ways to make yourself in-
dispensable is to be the person who goes the ex-
tra mile to implement helpful changes, such as suggesting new technology to use at work.
New Paralegal Career
CAREER CONNECTION Opportunities Based in
Technology has created new positions for
attorneys and paralegals that did not exist
even a decade ago. For paralegals who no
Litigation and Discovery Support longer find the typical law office is where
they want to be, or for those fresh out of
The market for paralegals who specialize in school who are looking for jobs with a tech
the management of discovery and trial slant, there are emerging fields that com-
documents is growing. Today’s trials must bine the fields of law and IT. Here are just
integrate more evidentiary documents than a few of the jobs in the quasi-legal field
ever before, in part due to the increase in heavily recruited in the paralegal sector:
technology that has allowed social media Litigation/Discovery Support
posts, text messages, and metadata to come
in as evidence. Knowing how to organize These companies are devoted to streamlin-
and manage high-volume discovery ing and simplifying the litigation process,
caseloads is a valued paralegal skill. and often hire both attorneys and paralegals
with litigation backgrounds. The range of

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85 Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics
services offered typically includes assisting with document retrieval, document organization, dis-
covery delivery, and preservation of evidence.

e-Discovery Specialists
An e-Discovery specialist is versed in the most cutting-edge software and applications relating to
various e-Discovery topics such as emails, social media posts, forensic accounting, and metadata. It
is possible to become a certified e-Discovery specialist through the Association of Certified E-
Discovery Specialists.
Compliance Specialists

A compliance specialist typically helps companies or transactional lawyers with compliance issues
including accounting and regulatory compliance. Companies that work closely with state and feder-
al agencies are the ones most likely to have job positions for compliance specialists, who set stand-
ards on internal issues and stay updated on regulatory requirements.
Data security Specialists

A data security specialist or a data security company
is one that helps attorneys and law firms store and PRACTICE ON POINT
safeguard their data. Typical duties include develop-
ing and implementing approved security policies on
a firm-wide scale as well as assisting with specific
client matters where information is especially sensi- Skills for Telecommuting
tive or voluminous.
Telecommuting offers the chance to give up
Legal Tech Startups
the morning commute and work from the
There are many job opportunities of various types comfort of your living room. However, keep
available for paralegals, especially experienced ones, the following in mind:
at legal technology startups across the country.
There is an abundant number of startups in recent • Telecommuting requires you to be
responsive to requests
years that are geared toward supporting or disrupt-
ing the legal profession, including small claims dis- • It may mean you are asked to work
outside of normal business hours or be
pute support, artificial intelligence for legal websites,
more available “on call”
legal analytics software development, and online le- • Telecommuting requires an honest
gal recruiting.
accounting of your hours at “work”
Legal Research Specialist
There is no denying there is a proliferation of online legal research resources. In fact, there are so
many, and they each operate in such unique ways, that many mid-size and large law firms hire legal
research specialists, including paralegals, whose sole job is to conduct complex research for attor-
neys. If you find that you have a knack for locating the correct statute or just the right case law, and
you enjoy this type of work, you might consider transitioning into a research-only position. Anoth-
er factor for consideration is that these positions can be telecommuting positions, because the
online access to legal research, and the ability to email requests and results, do not require the re-
searcher to be present in the same building as the attorneys.

Telecommuting is the practice of working at a remote location, such as your home, rather than

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Chapter 4: Technology, Software, Calendaring, and Ethics 86

driving to and from the office for work each day. Because of the advances in technology that allow
lawyers and paralegals to access data on the cloud and carry their laptops around with them when-
ever they go, more opportunities have arisen that allow paralegals to telecommute either all or part
of the time. Many employers have found telecommuting to be a practical benefit to the law office,
since it cuts down on overhead and on missed days at work. Paralegals find telecommuting to be
beneficial because it gives them greater flexibility in their schedule and reduces the time spent trav-
eling to and from the office.
Some law offices are now either “virtual firms” or are transitioning partially in that direction. A vir-
tual firm is a law office that does not have a physical location, and instead, the attorneys and parale-
gals typically work from home. Finding work as a full- or part-time paralegal in a virtual firm can be
a very fulfilling position that allows you flexibility in your hours and schedule—all thanks to tech-


You are now familiar with the many ways that technology is used in the law office, as well as in the
court system, and at trial. The impact of technology on the legal profession affects not just attor-
neys, but paralegals as well, and has substantially expanded their duties and capabilities. For exam-
ple, extensive legal research can now be done from virtually anywhere, at any time, meaning parale-
gals have both more freedom, and more responsibility than in years past. Coming straight out of a
paralegal program, you will be in a prime position to suggest the newest technology to fit the needs
of your law office, and help established attorneys practicing for decades, who may be unfamiliar or
intimidated, take advantage of what technology offers.

One of the most important tasks for paralegals in the law office is to calendar dates accurately and
dependably, in cases and client matters, in order to ensure their supervising attorneys stay compli-
ant with the procedural rules and case-specific deadlines they oversee. You have learned how time
is billed, how to evaluate practice management software, and how to evaluate calendaring require-
ments in various jurisdictions by looking at which days they exclude and include. We have also
covered some of the repercussions that can result from failure to comply with best practices in
technology, or from missing important deadlines in a case. As you move forward into practice, re-
member to double-check things that are of the utmost importance, such as security settings and
important deadlines.

© 2017 UEducate

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