Skip to main content »

AbacusLaw — Ask Us Anything

AbacusLaw, Free Training Thursday, Webinars

Whether you are new to AbacusLaw or a seasoned veteran, this 20 minute webinar open forum is your chance to get your questions answered by our training experts.

About Free Training Thursday: Since the start of 2017, we have been holding these free 20 minute trainings hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, ResultsCRM, OfficeTools, Abacus Private Cloud, and more. If you would like to request a topic, please email

[accordion-container] [accordion-trigger]View Transcript[/accordion-trigger] [accordion-content]

All right. Thanks everybody for joining. My name is Scott Heist hosting your weekly Free Training Thursday. Today's session is going to be an Ask Us Anything session. We got a lot of positive feedback on the last one. We figured we would do that again.

Just keep in mind this session is on the AbacusLaw, the front office portion of the program. We'll be having an AbacusAccounting Ask Us Anything, where you'll be able to ask questions about billing and accounting. That is on the 26th, so don't forget to sign up for that one if you want to ask any questions about those topics.

Just by show of hands, can everybody see my screen? I just shared my screen out. Just click the little hand raising button there if you can. All right. Perfect. Thank you all so much. I can assume that since you raised your hands, you can obviously hear me. We'll go ahead and get started.

We did get a few questions via email prior to today's session, so I'm going to address those first while everybody else is entering in their questions into the chat box. I also have my colleague Amanda on the line as well. She's going to be reading those questions off to me. While I'm addressing these email questions, please go ahead and start entering your questions into the chat box there so we can get those lined up.

The first question that I received via email prior to today's session had to do with generating reports, and specifically the report was needing to show multiple attorneys that have handled cases over X amount of years. It's basically the number of cases that each attorney has had over the last five years or so. This is a date report, where you're basically going to have to use a day field obviously in your query. It's going to be a less than or greater than type of operator when you're creating that report query. The first step is obviously to go into your reports menu.

You do that under File, Reports. Now, because this is a report that is coming from a case perspective. This is going to be a Matters report. Go ahead and choose Matters. What that's going to do is open up your report control window. If you're running any type of report whatsoever, you're going to become very familiar with this report control window. Because this is where you're going to choose the layout of the report, which for this example, I'm just going to choose a very generic report. I don't need to do anything too crazy here. Let's see here. Let me just do a basic. See if there's just a basic matters report here. Matters list. That's a good one.

Just keep in mind, all these different reports that you see in my list, you may have some of these depending upon the specialty versions that you have. Feel free to snoop around in here and take a look at what some of these reports show you. I'm just going to choose a Matters list as my report layout. I believe that just basically shows me the name of the matter, the attorney it's assigned to, and the date it was opened, and the date it was closed. The important thing here about this question is there's specific details about what needs to occur in order for a matter to show on this report, right?

It has to be all eight attorneys. It also has to be cases handled over the last five years. That means two things. We need to query the attorney field. We need to query the opened field. What I would do is I would actually go into my query manager to create this report, because this is one you have to create from scratch. Then, click the Add button. These are the same steps you would do for any custom query that you're creating, by the way. When you click that Add button, you're going to need to give your query a name, so I'll just call this one "8ATTY", eight attorneys. I'll say, "Matters Opened Five Years".

Down here, this gray line, this is our expression line. This is where we determine the logic for our actual expression. If you double click on this gray line, that's going to open up your expression editor. Now, you just want to start creating the logic behind your query. Remember I said there's two fields that go into this person's request. The first one is the attorney field. Now, if the firm has all eight attorneys, which it looks like they do, that's eight total attorneys, then you can actually do something very simple with the attorney field. Obviously, you have to choose the field from your field list, so click that little arrow. Then, find the attorney field. There it is.

Then, the comparison is where things can be real easy for this particular example, because what I can do is I can say, "Attorney field is not empty." Because every case that we have, really there should be an attorney assigned to it. I could do that. That will eliminate the need to do a bunch of "Or" statements, "And/Or" statements inside of my expression. I'm actually just going to say, "Attorney field is not empty." As long as I say that, and as long as there is a value in that attorney field, then I'm good to go. I can click done. Then, I need to add my second part of my expression. I would say Add. Then, it's going to ask me how do I want to combine the previous condition with the next. That's going to be an "And".

Let's talk about this for a sec. In this particular example, it has to be all attorneys and it has to be cases handled over the last five years. Both of these things have to be true. The case has to be assigned to an attorney. It also has to be within the past five years, okay? I'm going to say "And" here. You would say "Or" if either one of these items can be true. For this example, it's an "And" connector. I get my expression editor back. Now, I just choose the secondary field, which in this case would be the "Opened" field. Date opened is the description.

Now, for my comparison, because this was a date, things are a little bit different. This is something we're going back over years for. What I would actually want to do here is I'd want to do is less than or you could either do is less than, but actually more accurately, you probably want to do greater than … Is greater than. Then, just put in the date five years ago. As long as the date is greater than 4/19 or maybe we do 4/18/2013, then any case with an open date that is greater than that date would show on your report.

Essentially, this is exactly what your expression should look like if you're trying to find all of the opened cases assigned to your attorneys over the past five years. Just like that. First one is "Attorney is not empty". Second one is opened date is greater than 4/18/2013.

That's the answer to that one. I'll go ahead and close out. We'll go ahead and move down the list.

How do you create a custom form letter? This is a question that we get quite often. Now, a custom form letter could mean two things. This is a letter that has absolutely no content in it. In other words, it is just a blank document just like this and you're going to create it. Or maybe it's a letter that you already use and it's sitting on your computer, but you just don't use it in Abacus. Either way, the steps are the same.

What you're going to do … I'm actually going to just create some sample text here. I'm going to say, "Dear Mr. Smith". I'm going to say, "Your matter name is Smith v. State. Thank you." Whoops Typo. "Thank you, Scott Heist." This would be an example of a very basic form letter obviously. Maybe we have today's date over here in the top right or something like that. I can't believe it's almost … It is the middle of April already. What we're going to do here on this, if this is a brand new form that you're just now creating, you need to save this somewhere obviously. Make sure you save that on a shared drive, a shared location somewhere.

Then, your next step is to bring that letter into the forms libraries. Notice I clicked on my "Forms Library" button there. Then, it's really just a matter of adding that letter into your forms library tree. You've probably noticed, if you've ever looked around, in your forms library that there is a bunch of buttons across the top. One of which is a green plus button that says, "Add". The other one is one that says, "Add many". If you just need to add a single form, you can click the "Add" button. If you need to add multiple forms, you can click the "Add many" form. Those are those two buttons there across the top.

Now, for my scenario here in this question, I'm just going to add my first one here. I'm just going to click "Add". That's going to open up my little Windows Explorer here. I'm going to search … I saved mine on my desktop, but best practice for you is to save it on your shared drive. Then, make sure you copy that letter into your library. This is, of course, if you haven't done this yet. Then, there's my letter.

My letter is inside of my library. Now what I need to do is I need to customize this to work with my Abacus program so that Abacus autofills this letter. I'm going to highlight my letter here and I'm going to click "Design". What this does is it actually invokes my word processor. For most of us, that's probably going to be Microsoft Word. For some of us, it may still be Word Perfect. It works with both. Feel free to use either one. I prefer Word. I usually advise people to use Word. It's a little bit better for merges in my opinion.

Essentially what we are doing here is we're blanking out the personal items that we always type in. We're replacing those items with the merged field. Things like "Mr. Smith", we don't want to have to type out the mister or misses greeting every time we fill the form. I'm actually going to backspace that out of there. In it's place, I'm going to click "Insert merge field". I'm going to merge in the appropriate field, which in this scenario would be "Client", "Dear". For my date, I just backspace out what I'm always typing. In it's place, I click "Insert merge field". I put in the field for today.

The name of my matter, that always changes every time we fill out a form. I can back that out. In it's place, "Insert the merge field" for "File Matter". That's the matter name. Then, for the attorney, we have multiple attorneys in our office. Maybe this letter is coming from a different attorney. I can blank that out, click "Insert merge field", "File Attorney". You get the idea there. We are matching the corresponding Abacus fields with the appropriate areas of our forms. Then, it's really just a matter of saving our letter. We can close out of it. Then, if we need to run it, all we have to do is click on our letter, choose our matter from our matter list … Let's choose Doe v. Smith.

Then, click "Fill form". That will, again, invoke your word processor, which will give you your end result. I didn't have to type in "Mr. Doe". I didn't have to type in the date. I didn't have to type in the matter name. I didn't have to type in the attorney. It did all that for me. If you need any additional help on this, don't forget we have training videos online underneath our "More" section of our webpage, so click there. Then, if you want some more in depth training, you can always shoot us an email: We can schedule some time to take care of that for you.

Okay. A couple very simple questions. How do you stop the announcement window from popping up? If you're logging into Abacus for the first time in the day, you've probably noticed an announcement window that tells you about upcoming webinars, upcoming updates, upgrades, feature enhancements, things like that. Important information. Not everybody in the office needs to get them. That's actually an administrative pop-up. Chances are if you're getting that, you are an administrator. You can turn that off by going into your "User preferences". File, Set Up, User Preferences. There is a button, a check-box, that says "Get admin alerts". If you de-select that, you will not get that pop-up. I will tell you, at least one administrator in your office must have that feature turned on. It requires one person to have it on. You can just uncheck that and it will go away.

The other question was the help file. The help file seems to be down. I have seen this before when you try and open the help file or you hit the F1 key on your keyboard, where it shows "Internet Explorer cannot display this webpage". That usually has something to do with connectivity on your network. Our tech team can actually fix that for you. If you have an issue where you're hitting the F1 key on your keyboard to open your help file and it's giving you an error or it's telling you it can't load, please contact our support team at They will be able to get that corrected for you.

Okay. Last email question here, then we'll move on to our typed questions. How do you insert reminders into an event rule? This is one of my favorite things to do. When you have calendar rules … For those who don't know what calendar rules are, think about calendaring an item that has a bunch of extra events associated with it. For instance, if I have an appearance in court on a certain date, I probably have a bunch of reminders calendared leading up to that date. I can add those reminders, I can modify those reminders as I need to.

The way you do that actually is by going into File, Set Up, Rules. That's your rules menu. Highlight the rule or the event, whatever it may be that you're trying to edit. For instance, if I just wanted to do a new criminal case, I can click Edit and maybe I want to insert a reminder into this list of events that are going to get calendared. Maybe my ninth event is to call the client to remind them to give me the retainer. I can click "Add" right here down at the bottom left. I can put in a new reminder. Just type "Reminder" as the what code. For your description, put in whatever that description is: "Call clients to get money". The important thing here though is to make sure you're inserting your reminder into the right location in the calendaring event.

That is going to require you to know about the interval and the relative fields. The interval is going to be the amount of time in between the events. If I want to set my reminder five days after we're going to collect the retainer, I would choose an interval of five. Then, because I'm setting this reminder after this number eight event, I would choose "Relative to event number eight". Basically what that means is that five days after event number eight gets calendared, this reminder is going to get calendared.

Rules can be a little tricky if you've never used them before. Once you get the hang of them, they are very handy. If that went way over your head, that's okay. Let us know. Shoot us an email: We can go over all of that with you and spend a little bit more time on it.

I will turn it over to Amanda. For anybody who didn't get their email question answered, don't worry, I will be following up with you after the webinar via email to get it taken care of. Some of you, I've actually already followed up with. You should have seen that. I'll turn it over to Amanda now and read some of our questions online.

Thank you, Scott. The first question is how can I create a to-do list in Abacus?

Yes, to do lists are great. You can create a to do list basically right on your calendar. There's a section right here for to do. You can see I've got four in here already. All you have to do really, if it's for this specific day, like April 19th, just click the plus button right here next to the "Things to do" section. You'll notice in my event window, where normally you would see a time for an appointment, it actually has the words "To do" listed right next to it. My first to do, I would assign it to myself. I'd give it some sort of what code. The what code is up to you. This is just a way to basically classify what the event is. I'll just leave all of mine "Appointment" for now. You are welcome to edit these if you want to, add your own, use existing ones. The important thing here to make it a "To do" is that the time field actually says "To do". That's very important.

If this was, I don't know, "Cut the grass". I would make my to do for cut the grass, then I would save it. Now, that is on my to do list. Maybe I add another one in here. Again, time equals to do. That's important, because what do our to dos do? For those of who know. They roll over to the next day. That's the big difference between to dos and regular events, like reminders and appointments. There we go. I have two things that are on my to do list. Cut the grass. Do the dishes. I have them on my list. When I complete them, I always want to makes sure I am right-clicking on that event and marking it as done. Again, we want to do that because if we don't mark our to dos as done, then Abacus is going to roll them over to the next day as if you didn't do it.

If I don't do the dishes, they're still sitting in the sink tomorrow. You got to make sure you're marking them as "Done". For anybody that syncs to Outlook, these will sync over as tasks. Just keep that in mind.

The next question is can we upload a picture of an attorney or a judge?

Yeah. Well, I guess, yes you could. There is an option inside of your user preferences where you can utilize the picture window. See "Show Picture Window"? Then, this picture window actually allows you to apply a photo to a specific matter or to a … I believe it's only for matters, but let me double check on that. You may be able to do that for names as well. Oh, actually, you can. It says you can. Name or matter record.

You can do that just by turning that feature on. Every time you open a name record, it basically allows you to apply a picture. Now, if you want to just apply images in general to a case … Like let's say it's a personal injury case or something like that, or maybe it's a personal injury client and you want to add pictures of injury or pictures of damaged property, you can do that either in the name or matter record. Let me open up this matter real quick. You can actually attach those via the documents tab.

Okay. Right here. You can just drag and drop those images. Or maybe just drag and drop the whole folder of the images directly into this "Docs" tab. It will link those items for you, okay?

The next question is how do you remove law toolbox reminders on the events calendar as a whole?

Yep, I get asked that question a lot too. Just to clarify what this user is talking about is tool tips. When I hover my mouse over an even, see how a box automatically comes up. This is very handy if your calendar doesn't have tons of things on it for different attorneys. Because, as you can see, notice how that box also takes up some additional space below the event. If you have a bunch of stuff on here, just moving your mouse around, you end up with a bunch of tool boxes opening up. If you want to remove that feature, it's under User Preferences. Just go to File, Set Up, User Preferences. There is an option for tool tips. Show mouse-over tool tips. If you deselect that box, no more tool tips will show.

Also, as a side note, anything you alter inside of this user preference window only affects you. It is not a global change in other words. If everybody in the firm wants tool tips turned off, then everybody in the firm has to go to their user preferences and turn it off. It's not global.

Okay. The next question is after I link an email, how can I create a personalized folder within Abacus so that I can link certain emails into the personalized folder as opposed to just sending it to a generic correspondent.

Yeah. That is something that we're actually in the process of working on now. What I'll tell you right now, the short answer is you cannot do that inside of a case window. You can do that for documents. We are working on a solution to be able to do that for emails as well. It will look similar to what you have in documents. Notice there's a button now under your Docs tab that says "Folder View". I have some different folders created here. Eventually, you will have the ability to do that in emails as well. For now, unfortunately when you link an email, it does just get sorted by the date of the email or actually whatever column header you click on to sort it by. There's no way to create additional folders.

I can show you some work arounds. I think you sent that in an email. I believe I have your email address. I will follow up with you and show you some work around ways to maybe accomplish that task until that feature is updated in the system.

How do you do conflict checks?

Conflict checks are … If you think about what a conflict check is in general, it's really just a search. We're searching, we're querying certain parts of our data base to look for a keyword, which usually is a name. If we click this conflict button, we are presented with our conflict of interest check window. We want to enter in the names, usually it's the last name you're looking for. I could type those in, and as you're typing them just hit enter. That will add them to your list. You can add as many here as you want.

Then, once you have your names added, click the "Run" button. That will search, by default, three places. When I say default, I mean out of the box it will search three places. The name of the matter, the last name field of name records, and then we'll also search note fields. That's the three out of the box places it searches. Then if you want to look at one, like for instance, you can see here this bottom one. It hit on the name "Jones" in the last name field of record number 10004. If I want to look at more details of that record to see if it is in fact in conflict, I can double click here, and that will open up a snapshot of that record. I could look at this and maybe check the address, check the phone number, and evaluate whether it is or isn't. If it is not a conflict, the I just check the check box. It removes it from my list.

See that? How it removes it out of there? Then, I can print this if I need to. Some people like to print the conflict check and maybe link it to their matter just to show that it was done.

Now, keep in mind, I said matter name, last name field, and note. You can change that. You can, in your set up menu, you can add additional locations to search. It will allow you to add the first name field or maybe the event or something like that. You can do that as well.

The next question is how do I automatically copy an assistant on all emails sent to an attorney?

Well, I'm assuming you're meaning emails generated from within Abacus. If that's the case, I don't know if there's a way … Well, I'll have to follow up with you on that because there may be a way to create a quick form that automatically puts the CC in there. I don't know if there is a way to do that by default, just out of the box. Let me test that out. I think I might be able to find a way for you to do that that.

Amanda, if you could just jot down that person's email information, I'd love to test that out and follow up with them.

Yeah. Absolutely. The next question is when creating user-defined screens. Can you take pages from various screens and combine them? Scott, I think you might be on mute.

Oh, yes. I totally was. Thank you. Yeah, you definitely can do that. Let's start basic on this for those who don't know about user-defined screens. User-defined screens are basically your custom screens that get applied based off of the base code that you assigned to your matters. If you think about it, if I do divorce and I do personal injury, those are two completely different screens. I'm going to have all my divorce [decrees 00:29:15]. I'm going to have things like "Marriage Info", "State separated", "Date separated", "Custody Info". On my PI screen, I'm going to have date of loss. I'm going to have insurance information, adjuster information. Things like that.

If we are wanting to take some of the things from one screen and apply them to others. Then what we really need to do is clone the screen that we want to copy by just clicking that "Clone" button and rename it to be the appropriate screen. Let's say, for instance, this "Co-defendants" tab for my civil litigation matters, that's tab number seven … Let's say I want this to also be a screen in my, I don't know, I'll say my employment matter. Total example here. Unrealistic example, but I think you get the idea.

What I would do is I would basically just copy this by cloning it. I would just give it a new name. My name that I would give it would be my "Employment Matter" name, so I would say "EMPMatter" and my number would be whatever tab you would want it to be. Don't forget to change your label. That would essentially just make that part of that screen now.

When you look at this, I get a lot of questions about this. When you look at this list of screens that people like to edit an modify, the numbers sometimes throw people off. You always generally have, for every screen that you look at, you always generally have five or six tabs. You always have a linked names tab, you always have an events tab, a notes tab, a docs tab, and an emails tab. For those of you who have specialty versions or have customized your screen, you probably have additional tabs that are specific to that practice, like co-defendants or custody or divorce. Things like that. Or immigration.

The number that you see here, that's the number order of the tab just so you know. Whatever number you put in on your new screen that you've created, that number just needs to correspond with the placement in your tab structure on your screen.

That's another one of those things for whoever asked that, if you're really into modifying your screens, you may want to schedule a specialized training with us to go over that, because we could spend an hour on customizing screens.

Okay. I think we just have time for one more question. How do we get alerts on scheduled payments?

The only way to get alerts on scheduled payments is to just create … Well, I have a work around way to do it, okay? If you know you are going to be setting up a payment schedule when you create the case, then create a rule based off of your payment schedule. Because there's no way to sync your payment schedule from accounting over into AbacusLaw. Maybe that's something that will come in the future and I can add that as a suggestion to development. For now, it's on you to make sure you get that calendar.

What I would do is I would create a rule. Call it "Bi-weekly payment schedule" or call it "Monthly payment schedule". Then, every time you create a case that's going to go on a payment schedule, and we'll say it's a monthly schedule, just kick off that rule. That way, on your calendar, you automatically have the reminders that are getting scheduled on your calendar for the proper interval. For the Smith case, "Payment due today". Things like that. It will, obviously based off the rule, calendar all of those on the correct dates moving forward.

The only real way to do that now is to create a rule specific to … You've moved the payment schedule. I could just click "Add" here and I could actually just create one, call it "Payments" or something like that, and basically set the rule up just like you normally would. Hopefully that answers that question. If you need any additional help on that, like I said rules can be kind of tricky, so if you need extra help on that, just let us know.

All right. I believe that's all the time we have. As a reminder, all questions that we did not get to today, Scott will be reaching out and answering you directly. Scott, do you have anything to add?

I do not. Well, actually yes, one thing. If you were on our last sessions, you may have heard, you may have seen it in the advertisements, but our first annual user conference is occurring in July. Don't forget to sign up for that. It's going to be really, really fun. I believe it's July 9th. Amanda, is that correct? If you could refresh my memory.

Yes, that's July 9th through July 11th in Vegas.

Absolutely. If you want to sign up, or you want to get further information, just go to You can register. You can see all the speakers that are going to be there, the keynotes. I will be there, along with some of my other training colleagues. It's always nice to put a face to a name with your clients. Feel free to come and learn more about the program and meet everybody.

[/accordion-content] [/accordion-container]

Find more Free Training at

Share this article