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Abacus Court Rules Overview – Free Training Fridays

Abacus Court Rulesfor Amicus Attorney are one of the many features that sets Amicus Attorney apart. These intelligent and customizable rules are continuously updated with Federal, state, and local rules to ensure that you stay focused throughout the case lifecycle. They seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Office so you can have peace of mind at home, in the office, or on the go. This week, we asked our Amicus expert David to describe how to make these rules work for you in this week’s Free Training Fridays!

About Free Training Friday: For nearly two months, we have been holding these free, 30-minute training hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, the Abacus Private Cloud, and everything in between. If you would like to request a topic, please email

Video Transcription

Welcome to today’s webinar! My name is Allyson and I am the content manager here at AbacusNext. Today we are going to be featuring the Abacus Court Rules for Amicus Attorney, which are slated to go live to our users soon.

But before we begin, here's a couple housekeeping notes: Please feel free to ask us questions throughout the webinar in the questions box on the side. We're going to answer them at the end in the order that they were received. This will be a 15-minute demonstration with a 15-minute Q&A. Today, the presenter will be our very own David Lamb.

David is a product trainer who has been with the company for a little more than eight years. He is our international man of mystery as he sits in our Canada office. So please take it away, David!

Thank you all for joining us today and stand by for 15 actions packed minutes because, in today's webinar, I'm going to give you an overview of an exciting new feature that's going to be introduced, as Allyson said, very shortly.

Now, of course, Court Rules govern the procedure for the conduct of business in the courts and they often concern such matters as time limitations, pleadings allowed, grounds for appeal and of course, each jurisdiction has it's own Court Rules. In addition, the Abacus Court Rules for Amicus Attorney features makes you create, modify and delete court-based events on your Amicus Attorney files.

A Court Rule defines the series of standard tasks with their deadlines for a particular legal action in a particular court, federal, state or county level. And this is going to save you time and help insure that no steps in executing a client matter file are missed. Now, creating a Court Rule event requires a different procedure from the standard way of creating Amicus Attorney “To Do's” during appointments. Instead, we use special functions accessed from the Amicus Files and Calendar modules and these features are available only if your firm has a subscription to at least one Court Rules set.

Court Rules events are treated as a special class of Amicus Attorney events. In the same way, each rules sets are treated as a group and each event in a group contains information that relates it to the other events in a group. And, a reference field in each court rule event allows additional relevant information, so when a court room feature becomes available, I get relevant information to be recorded.

When the Court Rule feature becomes available, you won't have to install any new software. When your firm purchases subscriptions for one or more Abacus Court Rules for Amicus Attorney sets, then they become available. And FYI – if you're thinking of using Court Rules, make sure your Amicus Calendar, which is in Firm Settings, is up to date. This is very that your calendar must be up to date.

Just another note about Court Rules – they're treated as a special class of calendar event in Amicus Attorney and a file may have one or more groups of Court Rules on it.

Now, each group will contain a trigger event, which you will see whose date determines the dates calculated for all of the other events in the group. An example of trigger event could be a court appointment. A group might also contain one or more parent events whose dates determine the dates of further dependent child events. You can edit Court Rules in Amicus Attorney just like other events, however, if events need to be rescheduled, then it's best to use the Modify Court Rules Events function to recalculate all of the events. And again, if people assignments need to be changed, you use the Modify Court Rules Events function and also delete it.

Okay so, you can create court rule events on a file in the Files Module or in the Calendar module and we are going to take a look at doing it from the Files module because it's going to give us a better view of these events. Before you start, we're going to go into our Administration and we're going to go into Firm Settings. And under Calendar, once you subscribe to Court Rules and you click in here, it's going to show you all of the Court Rules that you've purchased a subscription for. Now, there' a little check box, Show all Court Rules Sets (including unlicensed), so you would get a list of every single court rule that is available. Mine are all licensed. If they are unlicensed, you would see them grayed out. So, this will show you at a glance how many of the Court Rules you subscribe to

Now, this is important, if you're calculating court rule events and it falls on a weekend, what do you do? Do you move it to the Friday? Do you move it to the Monday? Or do you schedule it anyway? So, That's up to you on how your firm operates, but that is an important firm-wide setting and I'm going to leave it to Schedule Anyway, and click okay.

Okay, so let's get right at it. Let's open our Files Module and let's go to the Cooperman V. Cooperman file and open that file. Let's expand it. Now to get to the Court Rule set, we go to Actions on the top menu bar and now you notice that we have Court Rule and the first step is, of course, to select the rule set. This is a list of all of the rule sets that we are licensed for, all of our available court rule set. Now, if there is already a rule set assigned to the file, you'll see the rule set listed on the right, again you can have more than one rule set on a file, but you can only load one rule set at a time. So, let's select the rule set that we want. Find the link you’re looking for, then click OK.

Next, we go to Actions and Court Rule. You can see that our rule set is selected. Now we're going to Create the Court Rule Events. Many of the Court Rules, of course, have the subset, the action you're going to take and you'll see these here on the left-hand side. Select the rule set that you want. So let's do Bills of Costs. I'll pick one and there it is and select and click OK. Now the Create Court Rule Events window opens. At the top, you're going to see the assigned file (in this example, Cooperman v. Cooperman file) and these are all of the firm members that are going to assigned to the events. You could change this at this point. For example, these are all of the firm members assigned to this file. If we wanted to remove any, we certainly could. I'm just going to leave them. So, who is going to be assigned? You have the option to assigned a contact here so that you can see these events on the contact.

Let's talk aboutCourt Rule Reference. You can enter some text here how you want it to appear in the reference field for each of the Court Rule events. You can put it your own text so that when you look at the events, you will know what they are.

Now, To Do's. Schedule the To-Do's start date when you want them to start. You could schedule them all to start today so they would all go on the calendar today or you can start them “x” number of days before their deadline. Instead of seeing all of the Court Rules appear on my To Do list and as tasks starting today, I could say just start them on my calendar, say, for example, seven days before that deadline. This does not affect the event's deadline at all. There's an option at the bottom, Mark Past To Do's Done. If you check this, any of the To Do's that have a deadline before today will be marked done and this would be helpful if you're applying the court rule in the middle of an ongoing action.

We have set up our options, now we click Calculate. Under the Calculate tab, you set the date of the Trigger Event. This is the date upon which all of the calculated dates will be based and you can specify the type of event. Is it an appointment or is it a To Do? So, we could say it is an appointment. Put it on the calendar. See, we're going to go forward to July the 19th. And the start time for that appointment, say it's from 10:30 to 11:30.

Now, we can give this event a title. So, we could say “This is going to be "CR" for court rule”, but you can give it any title you want, something that means something to you. Okay, you can enter any text you want into the main note of that event just to let you know what this event is all about. So, you have that option. Then, when you are finished, select Calculate. Now, in the pane on the right, you'll see a list of all the events. Note in the upper right is the number of events in the list. Seven events are on our list.

Now, for any appointments related to the July 19th event, the date is shown. This Wednesday, July 19, that is the actual date of that appointment. These are all To Do's, they are all showing you the deadline date. Now, you can show the details. If I click the Details, You'll see here the trigger event, you'll see actually what this actual To Do is, how it's been set. So, all of the details of that event and you can hide those details if you want.

There are some little icons up here on the left of each event which indicate what relations are defined for an event. For example, if this is a parent event to one or more child events, For example, the trigger event, of course. And this is not a child event to any other events. This is a parent event, you can see that right there, but it is also the child event. So, that will let you know their relationships. When you select any of the events, you're going to see little icons. The green icon means that it is a child event, so that's what it tells you, a little green icon. If there was a little brown icon, it means that it is a parent event. So, our little icons tell us if they are parents or child events.

If you need to reschedule an event, you can do it now. If you select that event and you can then reschedule it. You would just click Reschedule and select New Date. Now, remember that this is the deadline date because it's a To Do. You can go back to any of your other events and you could reschedule them here. If we reschedule a parent event, any of the child events will automatically be rescheduled. Let's change this date to the 18th. You can see there's our little brown icon that I mentioned before. Let's reschedule. Okay, so it would reschedule it for us.

Now, what we need to do is the next step is to select the steps you want to save as events. So, I'm going to select them all. We'd select all of the steps that we want. To see the events, of course, on a file, if we go to Events and All File Events, These are our events in Amicus Attorney. That's how we can basically use these. Once they are events, you can modify these events and you can change them. You can change them individually, for example, we could go in and change the deadline date on this and it would change it. But if we wanted to reschedule any dates that were linked to it, say it had child events, you would have to go back up into your Actions and Court Rules and you would have to Modify your Court Rules Events.

It's fairly easy as you can see. The main thing I've found is knowing which Court Rules to select. I'll leave that to you folks as legal professionals to do that. Again, it's going to be very simple, there's no additional software, so you won't get a disk or a download for Court Rules that will come to you when you change your subscription and purchase the court rule events. There they are. These are, of course, going to show up on the calendar and they are going to show up on the file.

There! I kept it to fifteen minutes and so I think we're going to be open for some questions.

Q & A

Is this replacing the current way Court Rules are added to matters?

Well, in a much older version of Amicus Attorney there was a program that was available that is no longer supported in Amicus Attorney. And this, of course, is one of the reasons that we're introducing this program, because we want you to be able to continue to use Court Rules, especially in a place like California where they are quite complicated. You could still add events on your own. You can still use precedents if you use precedents. This doesn't affect any of the other ways that you enter events into your Amicus Attorney files. It's just an extra that you can use.

Is Amicus Attorney a new program?

No. Amicus Attorney has been around for quite a long time. We started off actually it being written for a Mac. That's how long ago it was. It was a lawyer who worked here in Toronto and back in the paper days, he thought, "Gee, we've got these new computers, but I'm still using paper." So, he invented this program that brought all of his practice information together on his computer screen and uses it. Other firm members there, other lawyers would say, "Hey, that's kind of cool." So, he formed a company and he produced Amicus Attorney and it's been around for quite a long time. So, it's not exactly new.

The event titles do not show the topic. Can we add that?

Yes, you can change those event titles. I didn't show that. We didn't have a lot of time, but you can certainly change that and in the notes, you can add things too. Remember, the Court Rules are generic, but just like I changed the title of that first parent event to whatever I want, there are places where you can change these event labels.

How often are the Court Rules updated?

Well, They actually have a team of paralegals that are constantly looking at the Court Rules and when there is an update, then they go in and they update it. Then it's released. Remember, These are no software to install, so once it's released, they will update. I'm not a programmer. I can't tell you how they do this wonderful stuff automatically, but they will do it. They don't say, every ten days or every fifteen days. It is when there are changes to these Court Rules, then they make the changes. And again, it's actually legal paralegals who understand these Court Rules that actually author these Court Rules.

Will the events triggered by the trial date contain more information or do we need to modify each entry created?

I always tell people that Amicus Attorney isn't psychic, so it really doesn't know what you want to label thing specifically. We can put in some generic labels, but if you want to change them, you can go in and put in very specific labels for you. Just like you saw on the trigger event, I can call it exactly what I want to call it.

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