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AbacusLawAsk — Us Anything Accounting Related

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In this followup Ask Us Anything series for AbacusLaw, here is your chance to get your Abacus Accounting questions answered by our expert trainers.

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

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Hello everyone and welcome to today's Free Training Thursday. I have here today with me Peri Lafferty and she will be leading our very special accounting edition of Ask Us Anything, and answering all of your Abacus Law questions. I'm going to turn it over to Perry and she can take you through the questions that have been coming in.

Okay, thank you Amanda. Hi, welcome everyone. As Amanda said, we've got our GoToMeeting panel over there on the side that you should be able to see from your screen. There is a spot there to enter questions. Today is everything about Billing and Accounting as far as that's pretty much my specialty, so I'm happy to answer questions. Please go ahead and enter them over there. I do have a couple here that I can get started with.

One we got here already is, once a Time Ticket is put on hold how do you remove the on hold option? Okay, so if you all know, you can, when you're entering a Time Ticket, place it on hold. Placing it on hold means it will only show on the pre-bill. It will have an H next to it on the pre-bill, letting you know that you can see it on the pre-bill, but it's not going on the real bill as long as it has that hold option. To take them off hold, the easiest way is to come under Matters, go to the Matter Billing Activity. I set up somebody here today and put a couple in here so let's pull them up. Okay, this one here and as you can see, I did a couple different things.

I've got a cost that is on hold because you can place costs on hold as well as entering time on hold and here is a Time Ticket that's on hold. For either of these options, or of these transactions, I guess, you can highlight it, click the Open button and then in here on the Time Ticket screen there's a box down below the Ticket Value that you simply uncheck the box and click Done. That then takes the ticket off of the hold status and it will appear on the next bill. You also can do that for costs that are placed on hold. If you do this and uncheck that little box right there, that takes this particular cost off hold, so then again, it will come through to the bill. All right, so that was a good one.

Next one is about how to use the Split Billing master function. I have a Matter that the billing is to be split 50/50 between two parties. Yes, Abacus does split billing and that's exactly what it is. You are going to be sharing the, or the clients are going to be sharing the fees and the cost on the case and you can set those up in Abacus to actually say which client is going to be charged how much of the fee and how much on a percentage basis. This does require a little bit of set up. It is a special kind of billing that Abacus does. It has it's own option here on the billing menu to split time and/or cost, so that's only used for split billing.

You have to do things, like you have to set up a Master name and then each of the other parties in Abacus Law. You have to set up a Master Matter and then a Matter for each of the sub-parties in Abacus Law. Then when they're over here, because you did the bill to's and they're over here, I've got one that I actually have in here, we'll use Allan and Ava Adams. You can see when I set them up, I called one the Master Matter, and the other Sub-Matters. Obviously this is just for split billing. You don't have to do this for any other kind of billing. On the Matter screen, there's a box right up here that says Split Billing Master Matter.

That then says this is the Master Matter, the Master Matter is where all time that is going to be split needs to be entered. You don't split time, or you don't enter time to the Sub-Matters. The same happens with costs. All costs will be entered to this particular Matter number and when then you are processing your bill and you tell it to split it, it knows to go grab all the time for this Matter and the costs for this Matter and split them up according to what we have set up down here with our special new tab, because we called this a Master Matter.

When you designate that this Matter is the Master Matter, this tab appears and then you're going to come in here and add each Sub-Matter with the percentage of fees and the percentage of costs that they are responsible for. Now you could have, there's no limit to the number of Matters you can have. Besides perhaps a divorce, this kind of thing works in like class action lawsuits. This is a very special kind of billing, I have a very detailed document that I can send to you if you'll just let us know you're interested in that at I'll make sure to get that out to you because it is very strict follow through as far as where the time has to be entered, where the costs have to be entered.

Now I have another here about setting up billing format codes for different types of bills. There's lots of different reasons to have different billing formats and just to refresh our memory in case we haven't thought about these in awhile, under File, under Setup, there is an option here for your billing format codes. A lot of us may just use the standard ones. I've added a bunch in here just over time. We have an hourly format that people may use for hourly cases, a general format for flat fee cases, a contingent format for settlement statements. Those are the norms that come with Abacus.

You are more than welcome to go in and set up a brand new one with whatever options off of the choices that you have in here, what you want to see on that bill. In this instance, there's the need to have one for patents vs trademarks vs foreign patents vs foreign trademarks and other types of things. What you would do is simply come in and add, name it whatever you like. Now there's only three characters here so you got to kind of get creative here, but in the description, that's where you can really say what this billing format is for, what type of Matters. Nobody sees the code, nobody sees the description but you.

Then you come in and of course you can set up a custom message, you can add more text over here that appears in a rectangular form. You've got your reporting options to pick and choose from, you've got your format options to pick and choose from, so you're basically customizing your billing format. The big deal here is going in with this little Edit button and you can do this on any of your formats. I would recommend that you keep your original so that you can go back to it if you need to, but you can come in through this little Edit button and that actually takes you into Crystal Reports and allows you to do all kinds of things like change the fonts, change the position of these fields, but these are all parts of your bill.

We do want to be careful here, all right? Do this when you're not stressed out because you want to be moving things around, we don't want to have to do this on the day the bill is due, but you could go into these different sections with a double click and then you're moving all kinds of good stuff around. There's lots of creativity there than you can do to actually come in and play with that. Now I need to actually close this up and how do I get this smaller? Okay, just close it here. There we go. All right. Yes, you can definitely set up as many as you'd like.

Now you don't want to set one up for every single person, because that would make you crazy, but the idea here is to take the code you assign to this type of billing format and assign it to the specific Matters that will be using it. When you open up the main Matter Maintenance screen and you choose your Matter, I'll just choose one off the top, when you come into these details on the Billing tab is where you place the actual code of your billing format and that tells the system, when you process a bill for this guy, make sure you use this format, whatever you pick and chose through all of those options in the billing format.

With any of these questions, if you have more questions about it, maybe I didn't get to the exact detail that you need, please, please email us and I can personally call you and try and get to the bottom of it, if I'm not answering your question.

Now let's go over here, I've got a bunch here, see what we can do. How do I quickly add a personal note to a bill at the top of the bill? Okay, well that's not going to be in the billing format, first of all, because this obviously goes to every Matter than uses the specific code that we assign. You do not want to do it here. What you can do, the thing I can think of here is under Matters, again, on that Matters screen when you open up that specific Matter, because this only goes to this one Matter, these Billing Remarks. Now this goes onto the bill below the Matter, below the client name, below the Matter description.

It then appears right there up in the left hand corner underneath their name and address. This is a repetitive field, so if you don't take it out after you process this bill it will appear on next month's bill as well. That is the best place, I've got a claim number in there, just trying to show you that's a good place to place claim numbers, and then any text you want in here. You cannot put anything in here that requires it to be added to the total, because this is a non-calculating field. Hopefully you can use that for whatever you need.

Let's see if I can move down here a little bit. The check number field on payments, Payments Received window, shows up on the bill even if I change to just payment or credit card. All righty. You know what? If you could just send me a page out of a bill, the payment page, so I can see on the invoice summary what that's doing. Maybe I can change something there. Otherwise I can push it over to the development team and ask them what that's doing so I can get back to you. I know what you're talking about, when you're inputting payments through Payments Received, when you get down here there's the description that falls into place.

What I'm hearing is that even if you take out check number, that check number phrase still comes through on the bill. Let me see what I can do about that. There's not an option in here I can tell you. I thought just taking it out here and putting in something else, I want you to do things in order, putting in something else would automatically have it come through to the bill, but if it's not, please just send me the page of a bill. You can redact it, whatever, and I'll take a look at that.

All right, patience little guy, we're going to get out of there. Thank you. Again, asking about access to calendar from Accounting. Your calendar, everything for calendaring is in Abacus Law. That's the case management side, that's where we want everybody setting up their schedules, their appointments, their things to do, their tasks, their phone calls. You really have to go into Abacus Law to access that here, all right? It is the other side of the program, if you will. You've got your calendars up here. There's not a way that while you're in Accounting you can actually pull up your calendar here I'm afraid. You do have to go into the Law program.

Okay, let me see if I can read this next one. The tip of the day, of the day one day, was edit bills on screen, can you explain how to do this? Okay, that's a really good question. When we're in here and we're producing, it's a pre-bill, you can open up your pre-bill and it will come through to the screen if you do it in a preview mode. Let me quickly Add, I added that first one earlier today, I don't have a lot on there but this is just the idea to get in here. Let me go Find by Name I'm looking for. There we go, and we'll use Dana here and we'll take this and we'll run with it and see what we can do.

Once you've chosen your Matters that you want to look at for pre-bills, you come down here to the Preview screen and you click on the Preview button. This opens up and allows you to actually access the Fee section and the Cost section on your bills, on the screen I should say. You no longer have to go out and come back over and look through Time Tickets here and go to the Matter to mess with the cost there, you actually take your mouse, do a double click on this bold, big word Fees, a double rapid click, so it's a click click and then a one time click on the ticket number. It opens up that ticket and now I can change anything on here. I could change my timekeeper, if that's what needs to be changed.

I could change my text here if I wanted to add to it or something else, I could do that. I could change the date, I could change the number of hours. Anything you need to do and you hit Done. Oh, it's checking my spelling for me. There you go, that's me and my typing skills. This is a permanent change that happens to the Time Ticket. The big thing we have to remember here is it does not go back into Abacus Law. It does not go back. If it's something that is that big a deal that we want it to be in Abacus Law, you must go back into Abacus Law, bring up the Matter, go to the Note tab and make changes there.

If we brought this up, we would go to our Note tab. I actually entered those in Abacus Accounting today because I was just quickly getting something ready for this seminar, so I don't have them here, but you would edit them and change it here, but you would not be able to bill them over again because as we know, one we hit Bill, that's it. It's over there and we edit it on the Billing side. All right, that was an excellent question. Thank you.

Let's see what else I can see here. How do you enter client over-payments and issue a refund? Whenever I try to assign it to the invoice, it states that amount is greater than the invoice and won't let me do it. Let's see if we can do that. If you need to enter a refund, it's actually a two step process. What you're going to do is come into Billing, go to Refund to Client, this is another posting file, this is something fairly new to Abacus. You click on Add. Which Matter are we refunding from, so you pick your Matter. Who is the payee, so obviously we're actually setting up a check request so that we can process the check.

We come in here and we find our name that we want to write the check to and of course, the dollar amount. Now, if you want this to go over to the Matter Billing Activity, so that it shows that the refund was generated, you want to check this box and of course, put something in here. You must do the Breakout and the Fee Distribution if we're breaking it out at the fee level. In other words, the payment was received and entered and certain people were given credit for it or hard costs were given credit for it, we have to basically take it away here.

On the Breakout, come in here and if this was Fees, I can say $200 and then of course I want to go to my Fee Distribution and assign who is going to get dinged with this refund. If it's going to be me, for example, I put it against my name, so this will go through and update the Productivity Reports so that I'm getting $200 taken off, because I got credit for the money, now I have to give the money back to the client. My Productivity Reports have to be addressed as well. That's what takes care of that and we hit Done. It's not happy with me, let's see what I did here.

Okay, against Fees, all right, refund vs, okay received to date and I'm refunding $200, these billed to dates. I do not believe we have to, let's see if we have to put it there too. Okay, I've got to put it in both columns, I've got to say it's coming against me in both the two columns that were listed there. Remember, after we get here and we post it, you then need to go over and write a check for it under AP if you're using that part of the program, if you're actually using the Accounting side of the program. This actually is going to push it over there so that we can write a check for it. It puts it into the two step check writer.

It actually has already posted it, so you won't see it here because we did the posting over there, but just to take you through the two steps, that was the first step, here's the second step. We come in here, should be at the bottom of our list. Now you can actually print the check. That updates not only the client's, or I should say the Matter billing, it updates the checkbook and the Productivity Reports. Now I was just thinking, let's see, I think it's Scott that asked this question, maybe you're thinking or maybe you're also telling me that under Payments Received it's not letting you input the over-payment.

It is tricky here, when you come in here and you say who it is, I'll just choose this guy for right now. Oh great, no balance, okay, well he paid ahead of time. You're not going to be able to address it to an invoice, you're going to have to put it as Payment on Account and fill in the rest of it as you go, but you've got to choose Payment on Account. You cannot choose an actual invoice for an over-payment, because there's nothing on the invoice for that over-payment, so we have to put it in through Payment on Account. Hopefully that answered your question.

All right, let's see what's next. I'm getting down here, it takes me a little bit to get through these. From the Costs and Adjustments page, what happens when you select an item and you select Post? Okay, that's a good question. All questions actually are good question. I learned from the seat of my pants, guys. I went through a lot to learn this program. When you put something in here and you hit Post, depending on where you are, because there's probably eight now or nine different posting functions throughout Abacus Billing and Accounting. We post costs, we post payments, we post bills, we post trust. You guys know the routine.

These are like buckets, temporary buckets that you put transactions into. Here I would put Cost into. Let's do this. Let's go get Cedar Lake again and let me pick a kind of cost. Let's try courier charges. I put it in here and it's kind of an expensive courier charge, and you Save it and now when you post it, it's kind of like this is a bucket and everything, I could have ten entries in here, 100 entries in here, two entries in here, whatever. When you hit Post it's like taking the bucket, dumping it upside down and depending on where you are in the program, it's going to come out here and go to all the places that it needs to go.

For Costs and Adjustments, it's basically just coming to the Matter Billing Activity and into the Matter Report for your different Cost Reports. Let me post this and just show you. I'm hoping I remember who that was, Matters, their Matter Billing because that's where it's going. It's updating the ledger for the billing process and I believe that was a courier charge. Let's see if we can find that down at the bottom here. There it is, right across the bottom. It dumps it out of the bucket and pushes it over to wherever it's supposed to go for that type of function.

The big ones, the ones that really go to a lot, a lot, a lot of places, are Payments Received. When you put items in here, not only does it update that Matter Billing Activity it also updates the checkbook, it updates the bank rec, it updates all of the Productivity Reports, it updates your Financial Statements, so it's really accessing about 33 places. Depending on where you are when you post, the system behind the scenes know where to send the items from here, all the places to send it to. Hopefully that helps.

Can you create a description for a time to get detail that can be used for all clients so you don't have to type it over and over again via a code? Excellent, this is one of my favorites because I'm the world's worst typist. Now from the billing side, if you create a Time Ticket here, we just click on Add and say who it is. Take the first guy, in the text box, if you put your cursor in there and you press the F5 key, we're in the Billing side so it's going to go get my time entry abbreviations from the Billing side. You also can do this in Law, but let me do it here for now. I'm going to press F5 and this is a list of the different Time Ticket codes that I've set up.

I was testing one just to see how long it was one day and it goes on forever. Yes, you definitely can set these up and then just double click on it and it pops it into place. Then you can go get another one and put in as many as you need. One other little guy to know, is if you know the code, you've memorized the code, you just type in the code and hit your space bar and it puts that text in there for you. You can either pull it from the list and double click on it or put in the code itself and click on your space bar and it expands it for you.

In Law, it's the same thing from the Matter screen. You do have to set up two little macro databases, if you will, one in Law and one in Accounting. If you're going to use it in the Accounting program, make sure you set it up there, otherwise here. If you set it up here, on the Notes tab, when you Add, when you're in the text box, here again if you hit F5, obviously in Law I only have to Setup. If you're starting in Law, set them up here and use them here. If you're starting in Billing, make sure you set them up there and obviously when you add Time and Billing, you can do it inside the text box as well. That was a good one.

All right, let's see if I can read some more of these. How do you enter an expense which is not attributed to a client, like rent, electric, etc? All right, that's a good question. I'm thinking that you are using the Accounting side of the program, since we're trying to keep track of rent, etc. Basically when you're writing a demand check or using the two step check writer, because there's both, this is the checkbook the money is coming out of. Obviously we're going to pick our vendor and I'll pretend that, let's see if I can find somebody that wants to be the landlord today.

We'll pick that person. Their name and address shows up. Now, down here is where you're going to charge it to the type of expense, so if it's rent, you click the Lookup button and you type in Rent. There's your rent expense, double click, pops it into place and you ignore the Matter ID and you ignore the client expense code. Obviously you do want to go ahead and put something in the description. You can see my lovely typing skills. Then you print your check. Now, a little shortcut for this is, if you take the time to set up your vendors, you can default this information. Let me just quickly show you what I mean. Under File, under Setup, all the way to the bottom are our vendors.

If I take my vendor and edit it on the Account Info tab, here is where you could put in that default GL account number. If it's rent, you just look it up like we did except now you only put it in once and it will pop up every time you go to write a check, plus you can put in your description. If it is for a client, you could put in the client expense code and anything you enter here automatically defaults to the check writing screen. Let me save this, let me see who I was using here, oh Eight Percent Bail, okay. If I would now go write a check to Eight Percent Bail through my little demand check writer, see how the rent automatically comes through and the description.

You also can put in a dollar amount but I always caution on that, because if it fluctuates every month, don't put it in because we might just use it by mistake. Make yourself have to put it in if it changes all the time. Yeah, it's a good thing and I love setting up the vendors because you get so much accuracy plus it's easier. You set up the vendors one time, I don't have to keep looking for this rent account crazy looking number from the Abacus Charge Accounts every single time I write a check. I don't know why the bail place is getting my rent, but whatever.

How can I enter a retainer before having a bill to enter against it? Let's see. Let's see if I can get that one, how do I enter a retainer? I'm thinking of this a couple different ways. If it's money that's given to you, you can definitely enter it in as a client payment, as a payment received if this is money coming in. We'll talk about charging a retainer in a minute but if it's money coming in for a retainer from a client, you Add it, and let me just pick one again. If you have not generated an invoice yet, you're definitely going to want to use this No Invoice Payment on Account, because we don't have an invoice yet to assign this payment to.

The client just came on board, I haven't processed a bill for them yet and this is money going into, in this case, the Operating Account, I want to get it in the bank but I'll process my bills next week or next month or whatever it might be. Right now though, you have to enter the payment first apparently and then select Payment on Account and go through the rest of the process here. It's choosing this option instead of any particular invoice numbers, because well, in this case we don't have any, but this is if you're getting money ahead of time.

If it's how do I charge a retainer? Through Billing and Costs and Adjustments, you can charge a retainer through here. There's a specific code to use. This is how you want a retainer to actually go onto the bill. You choose your Matter and there is a code. R-E-T for retainer, additional retainer due. This will add an additional retainer to the bill if you need to bill the client for the retainer, because I'm looking at that two different ways. Hopefully one of those options works for you. Like I say, please send in more info if I'm not answering your questions to the full extent that you need and I'll be happy to get back to you.

How do you do both a flat fee and hourly billing on one bill? All right. Well, boy we're pushing it here, aren't we? What I would do, oh boy, let's see. You could, all right, through your Time Tickets, adding your time, you could for your flat fee use Flat Charge and this way you could state exactly how much you want to charge for whatever work's being done. Then for the others that are billed out at an hourly rate, you can use Billable and this will bill out at the timekeeper's rate that has been set up on that Matter. You could use both of these, the Flat Charge, the Matter must be tagged as hourly and then you can use this Flat Charge that we can, like I say, this amount plus whatever billable time I put in here.

Okay guys, I've run over a little bit. I know we have a timed thing here, so I'm going to have to sign off but I'm very happy to see you all asking questions. Please, if I did not get to your question, I didn't mean to ignore you, we just ran out of time, so let us know. Let's see, at and I'll get back to you. Thank you so much for today. Please stay tuned. We're going to keep having more of these Ask Me Anything because obviously we cover a lot of stuff at one time. I hope you have a lovely afternoon and thank you very much.

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