California Court System Alert: Budget Cuts May Create Unexpected Malpractice Chaos in 2013
March 01, 2013 (PRLEAP.COM) Business NewsCalifornia's Budget cuts have reached the Courts, causing severe cutbacks affecting almost every area of law in the state, says Gary Davis, Vice President of SmartRules.com, a website serving attorneys nationwide. Not since the Fast Track and Civil Discovery changes of 1985 have the courts changed as much as they will be changing in 2013.
So attorneys are scrambling to avoid malpractice claims by keeping abreast of the local courthouse rules, filing changes, new rules of civil procedure. Here is what's causing all this mayhem:
The California courts face a projected $400 million in cuts and are trying to come up with innovative ways to deal with the new financial limitations. Unfortunately, the net result of those changes will result in fewer resources for plaintiffs, respondents, prosecutors and defendants, and shorter timelines along with greater restrictions on attorneys.
For example, Los Angeles County presently has 36 courthouses. It is so large that if it had an independent judiciary, it would be one of the largest in the world. Clearly, it's a busy court. But one of the changes currently being discussed may result in the closing of 10 of those L.A. courthouses — more than a third of the courtrooms available to Los Angeles attorneys — being shuttered permanently.
As a result, hearings and trials will be moved to new venues, rules for filing deadlines will shortened or lengthened, and other rules may change. Attorneys are reasonably worried that they may show up to a courthouse to make a last minute filing only to discover that the clerks responsible for receiving their paperwork are now only taking online submissions…or, worse than that, now in the next nearest courthouse 7 to 35 miles away.
The attorney's inconvenience and cost of such a change is minor in comparison to the possibility of losing the case on a technicality, or being hit with a malpractice lawsuit.
And that is what is alarming attorneys and causing them to change how they do business. Budget problems like this are not confined to Los Angeles, and similar changes are beginning to affect attorneys all up and down the state. Attorneys are in an active search for resources which will help them keep up to date with all of the new courthouse and filing rules, requirements and deadlines.
Because of court and filing changes like these all over the country, top law firms ranging in size from sole practitioners to national firms have begun enrolling in a service called SmartRules.com, which keeps attorneys informed on changes to courthouses all over the country, covering over 80% of all legal actions in the United States.
"Firms decide to use SmartRules because the risk of falling out of compliance in such a fast-changing legal environment is just too costly. Attorneys want to have the best available information anywhere, not only to serve their clients better, but to avoid potential malpractice claims. And that is why lawyers use SmartRules.com," says Gary Davis, Vice President at SmartRules.
Mr. Davis continues, "Attorneys and their staff have a tough enough time generating billable hours without having to waste their time on administrative tasks like keeping up to date on local filing rule changes."
SmartRules has guides that are task and jurisdiction-specific, making it clear to attorneys how and when to file or respond.
SmartRules receives up to 800 alerts weekly from courthouses, combing those alerts for relevant changes, and updating the SmartRules guides every single business day. "As a result," says Mr. Davis, "our members are always up to date on the latest local rules and have the advantage when it comes to compliance."
New SmartRules members often start with a monthly subscription, but for a limited time, SmartRules.com is offering a shorter Trial Subscription. Details are at SmartRules.com
For more information on the changing legal landscape in California and the United States, contact Gary Davis at support@SmartRules.com, or call (818) 502-5015.