Steven Hardy answers a question about using Outlook as a legal customer contact diary, where one can easily see all approaching appoints related to a client.
I put the name of the client at the beginning of the calendar entry, then describe the event. If the client is Widget Corp., I might have an entry like "Widget: Response to Plaintiff's First Interrogatories Due." When you search for the client name, it will pull up all the events starting with that name.
For important events like hearings, I use the "Categorize" feature to highlight the event. I use red for high priority events like hearings and deadlines for filings and yellow for lower priority events like conference calls with other counsel. You can put in a reminder of up to two weeks for an event, but I usually put in a separate entry prior to an event that will require significant preparation. Thus, I might have an entry two weeks before a brief is due that says "Widget: prepare brief in response to motion for summary judgment." I always put in an entry five weeks before the close of the discovery period to remind myself to get out any final discovery at least 30 days before discovery closes.
I have a low-volume IP and commercial litigation practice, which is to say that I am typically only working on a few larger cases at a time. I also work without staff. If I had a practice where I had dozens of active files and/or had several other attorneys or paralegals working on my files, I would probably invest in a client-centric practice management program.
Steven Hardy, LLC