Every week we have been holding our Free Training Fridays, hosted by our industry-leading professionals covering topics across AbacusLaw and Amicus Attorney. How do we customize the dashboard? How do we streamline your work? What shortcuts can we use? But we also wanted you to have a say in our webinars, so we held our first Ask Me Anything! We’ll have more of these in the future, so please send us your questions here.
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Today, we're very excited to bring you our first Ask Me Anything. We've compiled the questions that were sent to us and we're also going to be answering those questions today.
Today, Tomas – our Chief Solutions Architect – will be answering your questions today. He applies his legal, technical and business acumen to achieve workflow automation requirements for clients. He leads the sales engineering team and I know that he is very, very, very excited about answering your questions, so without further ado here is Tomas!
Hi everyone, thank you for joining us today! Here’s a quick agenda overview of what we'll cover, and then we'll jump right in because I know our time is limited. There are a number of questions that were submitted online – I'll start with those and that will be the first part of our presentation today, and then we'll have questions that were submitted during the webinar.
I've taken the questions that were submitted online and I've grouped them or organized them. Many of them had to do with permissions and authentication controls so I'll start with that. Then, we'll transition over to functionality. Specifically, "How do I XYZ in Abacus in the most efficient way."
You'll notice as I cover some of these questions that there is oftentimes more than one way to form a function. When there is an opportunity for me to show you multiple ways of achieving the same result, I will focus on that. I think that's helpful because you can pick and choose the method that either you prefer or simply most efficient. With that said, let’s jump right in.
The first group of questions has to do with permissions. Specifically how — on a user by user basis — you can grant or restrict access to information. The real goal is individuals have tools they need to access the information they need, and then how they can perform their steps. Going forward with the accounting portion they can bill, track time, and have access to the information.
Q & A
Is there a way to protect a matter or name field once it has been entered?
While the concept is “access” to the information, what we are really talking about is keeping data in “read only” mode. That was my take on the protection request. As you can see, I pulled up a name record that I've designed. Information entered into date and name fields in Abacus is available to read and write, meaning you can edit and modify as needed. Here are some other ways:
Read Only-However, that same information can be displayed in a number of different formats, including as a read-only display. That's one way within the Abacus program you can have the same information be viewed, controlled, or modified in a very different way. You can also change the “read/write” distinction per user – for example, the data field on my screen could be read and write and that same data field on my partner’s screen may be read only. It’s totally customizable.
Partial Read Only – Partial read only would be something for privileged or confidential information that gives you the ability to control how the data is displayed. I broke it down into reading and write, which is a full modification, protected, one aspect of that is read only and finally partial read only. This type of control and protection for data in the Abacus system and on a user-by-user basis are built in.
Ethical Wall – Now a couple other ways, let's say, that you could protect information, which includes the ethical wall. The ethical wall enables you to grant or restrict access to entire records. For example, if Allyson logs in she could see the Smith file. If I log into the Smith file, I wouldn’t be able to access any information.
Protecting Fields – The specific question was about protecting a field. This is a way to do that. If we broaden that out you can protect individual records by making them accessible or not. That's another way that you can enforce protections or protect information.
Security Profiles – Then the final one is the security profile. If you wanted to create a profile and assign it to an individual in the firm, that profile could basically make their access to the program read only across the board. That's going outside of the scope of the original question. I wanted to build on that concept where you can actually have individual users prohibited from making modifications to any field that they access in the program. You can actually protect individual fields and you can certainly protect individual records like a matter as a whole whether that is displayed or not on a user-by-user basis. That's the first question I wanted to answer. It had to do specifically with protecting a field once it’s been entered. A useful scenario may be that in the intake form in Abacus you would enter information into that field but once the information is displayed it could be read only immediately. That's another way where the modification actually happens when data is entered in that field at the first instance and then going forward the permissions can be applied.
Is there a way to protect or enforce, apply privacy settings so that not everyone views total?
Answer – I think the question or the underlying request there is used a system so that timekeepers, and individuals who are performing work and tracking their time in the system, have that functionality. You can use your notes or your events from the calendar or for documents and emails in a very flexible and efficient way to track time and bill for it.
However, let’s talk about accounting. I'll jump over there quickly to show you. If I'm looking at my time tickets browse there are totals of the following: Number of total tickets, Total billable hours and Amount of hours.
I believe this is the information that the person asking the question does not want everyone in the firm to have access to some information. There are a couple ways to do that:
Scenario 1 – Time Ticket
In the AbacusLaw program if you click on time ticket it is a similar view as browse. You can move back or forward one month here. This is a way where you see similar information without the totals. If you're using the time tickets to browse and you grant access to an individual, those timekeepers can see their totals, as well as totals by matter.
They can show their more specific time tickets but not necessarily the overall totals. Either the number of hours, the number of tickets, or the total value of those tickets. The time ticket browse in the case management side of Abacus is certainly a way to encourage users to be able to look at all time tickets by date range or by timekeeper or by case. By also not have those totals. That's the first one I wanted to touch on.
Scenario 2 – User Manager
The second option is to go in and show you the user manager. The user manager is your way of controlling, at a very granular level, the access of each individual in the program. At a high level, you can grant or restrict access to the case management tools and the accounting tools. I can disable all access to accounting tools but I can also go in and click security profile and select this type of permission. I wanted to show you where I can go into accounting permissions here and select time, cost and adjustments. This is where I can disable an individual’s view of rates and values for time tickets. There are a number of different ways to do it:
One would be kind of a high-level restriction in accessing the accounting.
The second is if you'd rather have more specific or granular controls working with the security profile for each user and specifically that profiles access within accounting, you can really come in and grant or restrict access to individual tickets, the details of the ticket and the rate and value of a ticket. That is the other way that you can have in essence the control over that type of information.
How can I request or view previously-posted costs and adjustments?
An easy way to do that is under billing, I can go to matter billing activity display and for a specific matter and see previously posted costs and adjustments. On a matter billing detail under billing in accounting is where I can see those previously posted costs and adjustments.
How do I set up a clipboard so I can import information into a name record?
If I go to the “Name” I can click add a new name. That's the way that we would create a name record. I also wanted to point out this add from clipboard function. This is handy because I can take an incoming email with information in it and I can actually copy it. For example, “John Wilson” is a new name record. Let's say I copy that. In the Abacus program, if I go to name, add from a clipboard, it will actually look at my clipboard.
Let’s say I wanted to create a client record. The program already knows this information came from that email address but the pasting assistant says here is the raw text, and here is where information as prepared will go into the Abacus name record. The good thing is when you copy that information into the clipboard, Abacus will actually identify it, parse out the information and help you populate the specific and accurate fields in a name record.
Also, there was the question about importing from a V-Card. That is where I'm going to move to file, utilities and imports. In the import tool (built into Abacus) is the ability to pull information from a v-card. If you are receiving from opposing counsel or client, it might send you that contact information in the v-card format there is a utility built directly into Abacus. That's your easiest way to maximize or optimize your use of a v-card. I think it’s a VCF file. That is a nice way of importing from a v-card as well as an ICS. Maybe you receive a calendar or meeting invite via Outlook, you also have the ability to bring in an ICS file. There are utilities built into Abacus that recognize the format of those files and it's a nice clean way to get that information into your Abacus system so it then becomes useful.
How can I integrate the intake functionality into my website?
Imagine if a contact form, something that you use regularly to create a new name record in Abacus that can also import that contact. I'm going to go here to Matters – Intake Forms – Intake Form Manager. In Abacus you have the ability to design your intake forms. An intake function can also be designed in a web page format. The advantage is somebody can go to your website, complete an intake form and click submit. Then in the Abacus program, you receive that information as a completed form. Let's take a look at one of these. I'm going to click edit here to open up the intake form designer. This is where you can actually select the web as the output format.
You can even take an existing intake form, let’s say it’s a new contact record, save it as a web version and then I (or another Abacus professional) would work with our team here to configure it correctly that the first time. Then going forward all of those submissions, meaning the completed web forms that are sent to you, arrive via an email address that we set up for that purpose. The advantage then is you get to review or you have the functionality of reviewing those web form submissions, cleaning them up, deleting any that are junk or not useful. The ideal scenario would be you receive those web form submissions, you validate them and then with another click you enter that information directly into your active database. It’s a nice way of having that integration built directly into your website, whether it’s for lead generation or contact information or even a complex data process that you can shift over to the client who has the firsthand access to the information. Behind a password, you can create a web form, capture that information, and then have it delivered or sent to you as encrypted data. That was another one of the questions kind of in the import, how do I bring information in the category.
Well, how do we set email linking up?
Answer – I wanted to show you in a File – Set Up User Preferences – Printing and Email. You set up first that in Outlook. – I can follow those instructions and very quickly know for my user account there are some other controls to really control how emails are sent. In Outlook you're given the tools that you need to take incoming messages and outgoing messages and very quickly and easily link them a case. This is where you would enable the add-in. Once that process is complete. Never hesitate to reach out to our client services department. They can walk you through this very quickly and easily.
Once that process is complete in Outlook, the Abacus add-in is initiated and I get those toolbar buttons. Not only can I take an incoming message and quickly link it to the appropriate case and client in Abacus, but I can manage incoming documents as file attachments to that email. I can very quickly enter my time and bill for it. There is a lot of core functionality in that Abacus add-in in Outlook. At the most basic level it helps you take an incoming message, copy, store it and associate it with the case file in Abacus. That's how you link your emails. We're happy to set up that for you. You set it up once and then you have those tools immediately in your Outlook inbox.
Is there a way to have Abacus contacts on my iPhone?
The short answer is a resounding yes! The synchronization tool is what you would want to enable. Similar to linking your emails from Outlook you have a nice connector, Outlook Sync, that you could set up. What it does, you enable it once with a check. You have it work on your schedule, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, every half hour, however often you want that to occur. But the names can be synced. If you want it to go both directions, one direction, you have that control. Your contacts would be the names component of the Outlook Sync. That's the best way actually to end up with your contacts on your iPhone.
Your phone can synchronize with Outlook and Abacus would synchronize with Outlook. Both for calendar events and your contacts. That's a good way to make sure you have that real-time information so if you create a new contact in the phone it will appear back in Outlook and then in Abacus. Then, of course, your contacts that appear in Abacus will be available on your phone.
Then an additional question specific to that sync was pertaining to the event. The question was what if I want Abacus to control the events that show up in Outlook. The question was that Outlook was overriding some of the new information or modifications that may have been entered into the Abacus system. That's where the sync method, you could have changes going both directions or only transfer from Abacus to Outlook. That's something where I would recommend if it's behaving in a way that you don't expect it to certainly call our client services department immediately. But when you're setting up your Outlook integration under the events tab in that sync tool is where you can determine very quickly exactly the method, how you want it. Whether it's bi-directional or just one way. Perfect. That's the Outlook integration.
How do I actually change a pie chart to show me what I want it to show me?
I wanted to show you very quickly the settings on that pie chart app or widget that I added to this dashboard layout. You click on settings. This is where you can name it so you have some context. Then you can apply a query. The query is what is used in Abacus to actually filter or establish the criteria of information or matching records. Then, information from those records is what is pulled and displayed in your chart. The settings are exactly where you would go to do what you were requesting. The query ID is the first step. That's kind of filtering to make sure that the records that you want are just those records that information is pulled from.
Then similar to creating a report in the Abacus system the index is how the information is organized and sorted for you. The group expression and code type are what type of non-rotation is displayed. The settings for that app, that pie chart that I selected here, the chart is exactly how you can change the category. Reach out to client services or our pro serves department because they do this on a daily basis. Whether it's training you, showing you how to do it, or creating an app for you those are things that we do for clients all the time because we understand time is valuable and being able to say exactly what you want and then have us build it for you is maybe is more efficient. These settings that I'm showing you here on screen are part of the program. They are the tools we would use to create that pie chart but they are also available to you if you wanted to explore and get a sense of how you can use them as well.
How do I add rules? How do I use rules?
In the calendar I can right click and add events from a rule. What this really does is it creates the rule by using the rules what code or the rule name in the what code for the starting event. In Abacus if you say “add events from a rule” the rules list is presented to you. You could select one of those. Anytime I select one you will notice it actually is entered in the what code. If you know the rule what code you can enter it directly into an event or I can right click in the calendar and select from the rule list. But the what code that corresponds to that rule is how you link a rule to an event so that the corresponding date auto populates. That was the specific question. It's that what code that corresponds to the rule that really is the trigger in the system.
How do we search when we have a specific matter up?
Really, the question is looking for documents for that matter, for a specific keyword. If I pull up a case file and I click on the new doc I have a nice list of all the documents that I've entered or my colleagues have entered. They are categorized and they are date scanned so I can sort, find what I'm looking for. Double clicking on any one of these will open it in the program that my system is configured to use to display a Word doc. It opens up in Word, PDF, so on and so on. The real question though is “how do I search within the documents for municipal”, the term that came up.
This search box at the top of the docs tab on each case file is where you go to type in municipal and have Abacus search the content of all these documents and show you a subset of documents that have that matching search term. Right there that's your starting point
The question was specific to a case. The search here is already filtered for these documents that are specific to the case file. Building on that concept if you wanted to go and do a similar search. I want to go to documents, browse to pull up the document manager. This is where I can actually search for the term municipal, let us say, and look in all documents that are linked across all of my matters. It is kind of two ways of doing that. Whether it's the document manager and I'm searching throughout all documents or more specific to the question that came in. On this case file we could have hundreds of documents, thousands of documents potentially. It's full-text search within all of these documents specific to the case file. Perfect.
Is there a way to archive files?
Absolutely. One of the easier ways to do it is we have a case closed field. When there is a value meaning case closed is not empty that is a query that you can apply to your system. If I'm looking at my matters list these are all of my cases. The query would become a nice way for us to do exactly what you just described. If I only wanted to see open cases this would mean cases where the closed date field is empty, I would select that, apply to the query then all of a sudden I'm looking at a shorter list where those archived cases are still stored in Abacus. I can access them if I need to going forward but for conflicts checks purposes or being able to have the peace of mind knowing that I'm not far away from those archived cases but I'm not needing to scroll pass them every day. That open cases the only query is the best way for you.
What I would recommend is in your user preferences have this query be your default, which means in the program when you're navigating around or you're looking at your list of matters the closed or archived matters would simply be omitted from your list automatically but they'd still be there. I think the additional question or one I remember that came in was using that type of functionality to also filter out calendar activity that is associated with an archived case. What you really want to see is just information for active cases. Using that query, the open query both in matters and in names and in the calendar would be the most efficient to really filter what you're displaying at any given time only to active and ongoing cases.
Next step. This goes to customization. I'm getting a flashing red light here because we are getting towards the end of our time. This is the first of our AMA's and I think this is something that we will continue going forward because these types of questions I think are very important. They also tease out some of the value of the system. The last question I'll touch on has to do with customization. There is the understanding that if I'm opening a matter here and let's say I have an Abacus practice area legal solution for litigation. As I arrow through my cases here you'll notice that the actual interface can vary greatly on a case by case basis. But the real question is well what if I want to add a field to my screen. In Abacus we have our screen design tool. I went to window, screens, select a screen. This is where I have a list of all of my screens. If this is a litigation matter that I'm looking at now if I click edit it opens up that screen design in screen designer. That is a built-in component of Abacus and it gives you the ability to come into your name, matter and even event record and add a field
If I click to add a field I now can roll through my field properties. I click done. I've now added a field to that screen. Going forward anybody who opens up a litigation screen in the firms Abacus system would have this brand new field. You can add text. You can add variable text so that's the way that we would do those view only. You can add a list box, hyperlinks. There are a lot of ways to control what fields are displayed. Following up on what we were talking about earlier you are also able to come in, select fields and remove them at any time. Do you want to delete these? Yes, I do. This is really the tool you have within the program to modify, customize and ultimately enhance how information is captured, how it's displayed and going back full circle to the original question that we touched on whether it's read-only or whether you can modify it.
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