Today’s post is geared toward my colleagues here in the Heart of Dixie. I’m going to let y’all in on a little known software program that will pull your court dates set on Alacourt and sync them to your office calendar. It’s called Docket Sync, and it’s a closely guarded secret judging by how difficult it is to find.
If you Google Docket Sync you’ll likely get two relevant hits, one is the forum for the Online Information Services, Inc., or OLIS for short, which is Alacourt’s support site, and a snippet on a junky adware site called Software Informer. That’s it! The company that runs the program doesn’t even have a website, and best I can tell it’s probably owned by Alacourt. It’s weird to say the least, but if you want to either let Alacourt do your calendaring for you, or you’d like somebody to double check your assistant’s calendaring, then it’s the program for you. By the way it’s free for Alacourt members.
Finding the dang download link is 90% of the battle! Let’s get to it.
The first step is logging into Alacourt. Once inside you need to click the “ATTORNEY TRACKER” link at the left. If you haven’t added yourself to attorney tracker then you must do so in order to see your calendar in Alacourt. Setting that up is self-explanatory. Just follow the instructions Alacourt provides.
If you’re set up for attorney tracker then you will be able to view your calendar as provided by Alacourt case settings.
Now it gets interesting. With a magnifying glass and a soothsayer replete with tea leaves holding a “Where’s Waldo” book, look in the upper right corner for a simple green icon that says “DocketSync.”
I did y’all a solid by zooming in on it!
There that wasn’t so hard was it! Now click the icon to initiate the program download. It installs like any other program out there. Setting up the program is simple, but there are some caveats to be aware of. First and foremost is that this program needs to run on only one computer. If you try to run it on multiple machines then you will get multiple calendar entries in Outlook for the same event! The software is not smart enough to only sync new entries. Second, and less of an issue, is that DocketSync currently only works with Microsoft Outlook. Don’t worry if you, like me use Gmail and Google Calendar, there’s a workaround.
When you run DocketSync for the first time it will ask for your login credentials. These are your Alacourt credentials. Input those and be sure to check the box to login automatically. The idea is to set this and forget it remember. The next step is the most important. You must make sure that you check the box beside your name or else your court dates will not be pulled to your calendar! After selecting who’s calendar you want to sync the rest of the options are, well, optional! You can tell the program to only sync dates 30 days back and 30 days forward or whatever works for you. After you save your settings DocketSync will minimize itself and and a popup window on your task bar will tell you that it’s monitoring your calendar in the background.
The only other things to be aware of with regard to this program are that 1) It will only sync to the calendar associated with the email address Alacourt has on file for your notifications. 2) If you don’t use Microsoft Outlook then you need to go through the steps to activate an email account for Outlook on your computer. For Gmail users you can Google how to import your Gmail address for use in Outlook. 3) In order to have access to your Alacourt calendar you have to enroll your user ID into Alacourt’s Attorney Tracker program. It’s much like printing documents from Alacourt in the way of setup menus, but it costs $10 a month per user. Pony up the extra cost. It’s worth it!
Remember when I said Google Calendar users needed a workaround to get the court dates imported to your calendar? Enter Google Calendar Sync.Google Calendar Sync pulls your events in Microsoft Outlook and syncs them with your Google Calendar. Simple enough. Once downloaded and installed you’ll be presented with a settings page as shown above. Enter your Gmail account info and select “2-way Sync.” This will insure accurate calendaring from Alacourt. You can alter how often the program syncs with Outlook, but every two hours is fine with me. Save your settings.
Now that you’ve set up both DocketSync and Google calendar, if necessary, you can rest assured that even if you forget to add a court date to your calendar, DocketSync has you covered. The nice thing about this service is that not only will it calendar court dates for you, it will add useful information such as the location, case number, which judge, and even what the hearing is about. What’s even cooler is when I go to calendar a court date via an AlaNotice, DocketSync already beat me to it. In fact if you catch one that DocketSync didn’t it means one of two things. Either A) the state doesn’t know you’re in the case yet, or B) your program has stopped syncing for whatever reason, and now you know to check it. I routinely manually sync by clicking the appropriate button in both DocketSync and Google Calendar Sync just to be sure I’m on the same page with Montgomery. Below is a screenshot from my calendar of a dismissed case (with permission).
Final words of caution: 1) If you’ve got say a criminal case with several counts or separate case numbers, expect multiple entries on your calendar. I’ve got one client facing 13 felony charges. Needless to say that calendar entry is bloated! 2) I recommend installing this setup on a computer that doesn’t hibernate or shut itself off, but your mileage may vary. When I had this running on a laptop it wouldn’t wake up to sync every two hours so I had to periodically run the program myself. But on my desktop computer, even though it hibernates, it will still run the programs in the background without trouble.
As a relatively new attorney, failing to show for a court date is not only extreme bad taste, but it could cost me future appointments from the Court, not to mention a deserved tongue lashing! This setup ensures that if I forget to add a court date to my calendar, DocketSync has my back.