Amicus Attorney – Ask Us Anything
This is your open forum to get questions answered by our Amicus Attorney experts during this free 20 minute webinar.
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Hello everyone and welcome to this AbacusNext Free Training Thursdays webinar, Amicus Attorney Ask Us Anything. My name is Chris Tobber, and I'm a software trainer here at AbacusNext. Before we get started, I'd like to cover a quick housekeeping item. Because of the number of people on this webinar, all attendees are muted upon entry. If you have any questions during the session, please submit them to me using the question feature in the 'Go To Webinar' panel on the right side of your screen. If we run out of time and there are any remaining questions that have not been addressed, we will respond to these via email. And with that, let's get started.
And again, today's webinar is Ask Us Anything which is quite a bit different from what we generally do in our Free Training Thursdays webinar where we generally have a topic. Today's session is really all about you and your questions. Just a quick note, some of you have already sent us questions via email, that's great, thank you very much for those. Most of them, however are quite complex and detailed, so we thought it would be better if we respond to these via email, either today or tomorrow. So, if you have sent us an email question already before this session, we are certainly going to address that question. We're just going to be taking that a little bit offline.
Of course, at this point we do welcome any questions. So there is a question panel or a question box in the 'Go To Webinar' panel. It might be a little hidden away on your screen, you might need to expand the little, small 'Go To Webinar' panel to bring up the larger one. It all depends on what or how you're joining us today. If you're using the Chrome extension, it should already be there for you on screen.
So again, please feel free to submit any of those questions and again, if we don't answer any or we skip any questions just for time, we will of course, endeavor to respond to these promptly. And I do see a couple of questions already coming in. Great! So let's jump right in. I'm just gonna go ahead and bring up Amicus Attorney here.
And the first question, how do I change my password? And that is a very frequent question that we do get all the time. For those of you that are maybe not aware, your password is your own. And by that, we mean even your Amicus Administrator does not know your password, unless of course, they were the ones that issued it to you in the first place. If you wish to change your password, you can do so by going over to 'Preferences', clicking on 'My Profile', 'Edits' and then 'Office Access'. And in 'Office Access' you can do one of two things. One, you can reset your password as that's what we're looking to do. So you can go ahead and put in your old password, put in a new password and then verify that new password. The next time you log in, you will be prompted of course, for the new password that you have selected. Just a note – and I can't imagine that any of you would have suffered this, if you forget your password, the only person that can reset your password is your Amicus Administrator. So, you will need to reach out to your Amicus Administrator to ask them to reset the password for you. That is, by design, it's a security feature in Amicus Attorney and that way, we kind of avoid passwords floating around. Great question.
The next question, how do I restrict users from the Amicus Attorney 'Billing' side? Also a great question. So, of course, those of you that are using Amicus Billing – and not everyone is, it is a complementary, complementing but additional cost add on to Amicus Attorney. My firm, our fictional law firm is using Billing however, so I do have this 'Billing' tab. If you do not have the 'Billing' tab at the top, left hand corner of your screen, it means one of two things. One, it means that your firm is not currently using Amicus Billing or two, you have been restricted from the 'Billing' side by your Amicus Administrator. If your firm is using Billing and you're still unable to see the 'Billing' side, you'll need to speak to your Amicus administrator and ask them to grant you access to the 'Billing' side.
They would do so, simply by going to 'User Management', and of course, 'User Management' is restricted only to Amicus Administrators. They would select your name from the user list and under 'Admin' – which again, only Administrators have access to, they would be able to grant you either 'Billing User' or 'Billing Supervisor' access. If you do not have either of these, you would have no access, which means that you would be unable to see the 'Billing' side of the application. You would effectively be restricted to the 'Attorney' side. Just as an FYI to any Amicus Administrators on the line, there are options in, as well, in terms of how or what a user is able to do on the 'Billing' side, simply by changing the settings in the security profiles. So, one of the new features of the newest version of Amicus Attorney is we have security profiles specific to the Billing Profiles. Here, we can do things like grant or restrict access to particular areas on the 'Billing' side, or particular actions on the 'Billing' side.
Next question, how do I add multiple people to multiple people groups? Also a great question. Let's go over to the 'Attorney' side and we'll go down to our 'People'. Now, for those of you that are maybe not familiar with 'Groups' or 'People Groups', they are your primary means of managing your contacts. I'm just gonna make 'Groups' front and center here. And you can add your contacts to one or more groups, so for example, Jason B Adderley, the first person on our list, is in the 'Clients' group and Phillip J Agrarian is in the 'Lawyers', 'Bankers' as well as 'Opposing Counsel' group.
Groups are a fantastic way to quickly filter out users. So, for example, I can do a search using the 'In Selected Groups' search. The last search I did was for 'Judges', so that's why Amicus automatically defaulted to 'Judges'. And here we have a list of all of our contacts that are in the 'Judges' group. And from here, I can grab all of these guys – either by selecting the first person, selecting the last person while holding down shift or simply by holding down the control key, I can select certain people from this list. Then I can go ahead and right click 'Change Group Membership' and I'm going to add all of these selected people to, let's just say for example, the 'Insurers' group. So this is gonna add all of people that we have selected, one, two, three, four, five, six. Six of these people that are selected are going to be added to the 'Insurers' group.
Now, keep in mind however, if this person is already in the 'Insurers' group – and I don't see that as being the case for any of these selected contacts, nothing will change of course. Amicus isn't going to remove them from the 'Insurers' group, it's just going to leave them in there. Right. And now, you can see for example, Bradley Simpson is in the 'Insurers' group, Ronald Blachford is also now in the 'Insurers' group et cetera.
And this is actually a question that was posed by email, so I'll just quickly address that. When you want to select multiple people or files – and this does apply for files as well, you can simply holding down the control key, select different files. So if I wanted to, for example, on the 'Billing' side, if I wanted to bill certain files and only certain files that I know are ready to be billed, I can simply select those, again, holding down the control key, right click and then select 'Bill'. It's not mass billing, it's just going to select those files that we have selected. Right and again, the holding down control key to select individual records works both on the 'Billing', sorry, on the files rather, as well as on the contacts.
How do we automatically assign common forms to new files? Saturn, if you could provide a little bit more information on that and I'll certainly circle back to your question. When we're talking about forms, are we talking about document assembly templates i.e., generating document assembly templates for new files? So, if you could just let me know via the chat box, I can certainly circle back to you.
But for now, we'll move on to the next question. Is there a way to set up Groups so that when building a new file, we can add the group to the file instead of just one person at a time? That's an interesting question, Michelle. It's a little bit tricky because Groups aren't really file specific. They're used for managing your contacts, not necessarily, people that are going to be on the file. However, if there are certain groups of people or there are certain people that come up frequently and are constantly being added to new files – and these are of course, people outside of the firm, yes you could set up a group of people and then simply add that group to the file itself.
So, for example, if I return to the 'Attorney' side, go into 'Files', now let's just open up a file here at random, 'Add', 'Group Names' and so here we have all of our Groups. And yes, they will be added to the file but again, that can be problematic because, as I said, the Groups are, people groups are meant to manage your contacts, not necessarily those contacts that are going to be added on a file. So potentially, I want to say you're probably going to have to add each one of those people manually.
Alright. Next question. How do I edit a Document Assembly Template? Yeah, absolutely, Raj. That's fairly straight forward. For those of you that are maybe not familiar with Document Assembly Templates, they're essentially documents, templates that you can pull information out of Amicus in and put them into either a Word or Word Perfect document template. Out of the box, Amicus comes with a number of templates and they're grouped by template groups as you can see here. But, I can actually select a currently existing template, click 'Edit' and then Word is going to open momentarily on my other screen here, I'm just going to drag it over. Here we are back working in the template that we would have created initially and then we can go ahead and make any changes to this template. For example, let's say we wanted to change the font for this template, we could simply do that, I'll choose Arial here, 'Save' and then the template is now saved and the next time we generate this template, it will be in Arial format.
And to tag onto that question, Raj, you do not not need to be an Amicus Administrator to make any changes to Document Assembly Templates. Everyone in your firm – regardless of whether or not they're Administrators, will be able to do so.
Alright, we have another question from Michelle with email templates. So, kind of tacking on to our 'Merge Templates' where we just were a few moments ago, creating email templates is a little bit different but very similar to how you would create templates for Word or Word Perfect. There is some difference however.
So, for example I'm going to put this in the new training group, this is just a dummy group that I've created, I'm going to create a new template in new training group and I'm going to call this 'Email For Christmas'. We would uncheck 'A Document' and make this 'An Email' and then click 'Create Template'. Now, you are still creating the template in Word and that's what I think a lot of people struggle with. They wonder why you would be creating an email template in Word, that's just how you do it. The procedures of creating an email template are exactly the same as you would creating a conventional document template. So, you would put in your text and we would of course, go ahead and put in any fields using the 'Add Ins' tool ribbon and then selecting 'Select Fields', dropping in the appropriate fields, so 'Dear First Name' and let's go ahead, I mean you probably don't necessarily need to put in 'Firm Name' from the fields but you can do that or you could just simply type your firm name.
We can do anything else in terms of, oops, formatting, right. We can make this a little bit bigger, we can make some or all areas red, right. We can add other kind of textual aspects to this document or email template. Once we select 'Save', 'Close'. Sending or generating the emails is also a little bit different. Rather than opening up a file or opening up a contact – although you can do it from a file or contact, I generally recommend going to 'Communications', selecting 'New Email', changing from 'Blank Message' to 'Merge Messages' where we will be asked to choose our template. And there's the template that we just created, there's a template I created in a previous training session. We do need to put in a subject line and we do, of course, need to select which people.
We can either pick and choose from our contacts or we can even do things like pick from a particular group. So, let's say we wanted to send an email to all the Judges, right? Amicus is going to put it all of those Judges with their emails and then 'Open'. Some of our Judges do not have emails, we're going to say 'Proceed Anyway'. And then, again, people generally get a little tripped up like why is Word opening? Word acts as the bridge between Amicus and Outlook. So, the email is put into Word and then all we need to do basically, is click – when it comes up. I apologize, I'm not sure why Word is not behaving as it should. But essentially, once Word comes up, it'll basically ask me to click 'Mail Merge' and then clicking 'Electronic Mail' will basically send that email off. I'm not going to send those emails off, of course. But we can for example, oops. We can for example, see what we would be sending to the Judges.
Let's see. Next question. Can I set it up so my secretary can view my emails, associate email from contacts with two or more files to the appropriate file and assign tasks for me? Yes, that is absolutely possible. That is done actually from, by assigning or granting access to offices. So, this is a little known but very handy feature in Amicus Attorney. If we go or return to our 'Preferences' where we were earlier and we'll actually return to 'My Profile' and 'Edit' and 'Office Access'. We can grant access or 'Guest Access' to our other firm members, provided of course, that they are also Amicus users.
So this way, for example, and there are two levels of Guest Access, there's 'Guest Assistant', which sounds like what you would be looking for because 'Guest Assistants' can look at things and do things on your behalf whereas 'Guest Colleagues' can only look at things. So, we can see here that Jack, I have granted so, I have given Jack McCoy access to my 'Office'. So Jack – without having to actually go to my computer, is able to access my 'Office' and do things such as assign or create tasks in my name. He can also create time entries in my name and run reports for me. Right. Once you've been given access – so somebody does have to grant you access beforehand, it's simply a matter of going to 'Open Another Office' over here on the left hand side, in your navigation panel, selecting the person – I'm just going to use Perry Mason as an example here. It will take a few moments and you'll notice now, we are in, working in Perry Mason's Office. So we are no longer working in Bobby Donald's Office, we are in Perry Mason's Office.
From here, I can't do everything. I can't, for example, change any of Perry Mason's 'Preferences' but for example, I can do a 'Time Entry' and you'll notice that Amicus will allow me to create a 'Time Entry' and it will automatically put Perry Mason in there for me. There are limitations, obviously we don't want somebody to be able to wreck havoc in another person's 'Office'. So for example, while I can create this 'Time Entry', Perry will still have to 'Post' it. To tack on to that question, yes, Perry can actually be working in his 'Office' while I'm accessing his 'Office'.
Couple of questions relating to Billing. Is there a way to batch post payments? Unfortunately no, you do have to receive payments one after another. Can we access 'Custom Pages' from the 'Billing' side? The 'Billing' side has 'Custom Pages', these however, are reserved exclusively for task based billing. So, I'm going to open up a file here – you'll notice of course, oops sorry. We're still in Perry's Office and Perry obviously does not have access to the 'Billing' side. So, I'm going to click 'Return To My Office' where I do have access to the 'Billing' side. Oh, this file does not have any, one second here. Bailey re Kipling. So you'll notice on the 'Attorney' side of the Bailey re Kipling file, we have a number of custom fields and pages that are available. On the 'Billing' side however, these 'Custom Pages' – and you'll probably notice this, are grayed out. As, I said, 'Custom Pages' are reserved for task based billing. So unfortunately, for the moment, the 'Custom Pages' are only accessible on the 'Attorney' side.
Alright. Is there a plan to templates and Excel for the future? That unfortunately I can't talk to. I'm not quite sure if there are any plans to build out Excel templates. That's unfortunately something I'm not able to comment on. However, if you do wish to submit a suggestion, you can always reach out to the email, of course is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alright. The next question. Just bear with me for a moment here, it's a little bit long. Ah, okay. So, the question is really – and you'll have to forgive me, I'm kind of rephrasing it, what is the difference between 'Custom Pages' and 'Custom Records'? 'Custom Pages', as we've seen here, are an additional or advanced feature in Amicus Attorney that you – or rather in this case, an Amicus Administrator can set up, to capture specific information in specific fields, that are build out onto a Custom Page. Currently, we're looking at an example of a Custom Page. That page is called Corporate Information and here we have different types of fields where we can put in different information that is important to our firm. Now, you can have multiple 'Custom Pages' and then 'Custom Records' is kind of an extension of 'Custom Pages'.
A Custom Record gives you the option to capture information in a diarized sense, which means you can capture the same information over and over again. So for example, here we're looking at a Custom Record for 'Court Details' and you can see we have a number of entries here. And if I click on 'New', I can add a new entry to that record. So, I'll just put in some random information here. Right. And these Custom Records can be comprised of a multitude of date fields, number fields, drop down menus, note boxes, check boxes, et cetera. And then they're entered into the list and then if I click 'New', I have the option to enter a whole new entry, the same information. A lot of firms will use Custom Records for an example, like this, court appearances, if they need to capture specific information about their court appearances in, as I said, a kind of diarized or serialized fashion. Some firms will use it for evidence, so tracking evidence or exhibitions or exhibits.
The next question, how do you attach a document saved in Amicus to an email? Excellent question. That really can be done anywhere where you go to 'Create A New', just close out of here, anywhere you go to 'Create A New Email'. So you can do 'File', 'New', 'Email'. You can do control, shift, A. You can start from your Communications module. You can start it from a Business Card. But in this case, we'll just do it from the Communications module, so I'm going to go ahead and 'Create A New Email' and in this case, we're going to send the email to our friend Janet Bailey – not really our friend, our client. You'll notice that when I typed in or selected Janet Bailey, Amicus immediately put in Bailey re Kipling and that's because Janet has that file with us. If the client has a file, adding attachments is really quite easy. If you go to 'Attachments', Amicus will zero in on just those documents that you have already attached or saved to that file or matter.
So, these are all the documents on Janet's file and I can go ahead and select a couple of these, click 'Okay', click 'Open' and here is our email. So you can see Amicus has passed information over to Outlook, this is Outlook of course. It's put in Janet's email address, put in the file name as, or the subject line as the file or short file name and here you can see that we have the three image documents that were attached to Janet's file, already attached as attachments. So I can just go ahead, type in my, the body of my email and send that off to Janet.
Next question, also pertaining, well pertaining, not also but pertaining to document attachment. And that is, can you have sub files under each client file? The short answer is yes. If I go to my file here, back to the Bailey re Kipling file and go to 'Documents', you'll notice on the left here we have a couple of options. We have 'My Documents', 'All Documents', 'Correspondence', 'Pleadings' and 'Client Retainers'. These last three, 'Correspondence', 'Pleadings' and 'Client Retainers' are called 'Document Groups'. They, in effect, work like sub files, or sub folders if you wish. Currently, let's see if I have anything in any of these. So, I don't have anything in either 'Correspondence', 'Pleadings' or 'Client Retainers' yet. So, I'll return to my 'Documents', I'll select this logo – just as an example, I'll open that up, select 'Document Groups' and I'm going to – just for arguments sake, add this to 'Client Retainers'. Now, when I go to 'Client Retainers', that logo document is here.
So the 'Document Groups' are really there for your organizational needs. You can basically have a master list in either 'My Documents' or 'All Documents', of every single document and then use 'Document Groups' to further organize that. I can imagine if you have hundreds of documents on a particular file, you may wish to leverage 'Document Groups' for that purpose. Just an FYI, you do need to be an Amicus Administrator to set up 'Document Groups'. So, just return to 'Firm Settings' and under 'Firm Settings', under 'Files', we have 'Document Groups' and Document Groups are file specific which means our union files might have different categories or sub files or document groups that we wish to use. Corporate has, for example, 'Retainer Letters' and 'Monthly Statements', Litigation has 'Correspondence', 'Pleadings' and 'Client Retainers'. Right. So you can use these 'Document Groups' to basically organize that massive list – potentially, of documents that you have going on a file.
Alright, looks like I've answered all questions. I will be, of course, reviewing the list after today's webinar so if there's anything I missed, don't fret. I will certainly be reaching out to you to respond to those. But, I'll give just a few more, oh there's another one. I'll just give a few more moments and I'll answer this question and if there are no further questions after that, we will call it a day.
So, the last question that I have is how do I set up different Expense Entries? Expense Entries … Yep, we're already in the right place. This is under the 'Firm Settings', so again, only an Amicus Administrator has access to this area. And they would go to 'Activity Codes' and it's a little bit misleading I suppose. It does say 'Activity Codes' and it does say 'Expense Codes' later on but people kind of see 'Activity Codes' and they don't see 'Expense Codes'. If we click on 'Activity Codes' and change the 'Display Options' from 'Activity Codes', oops sorry, my mistake. We weren't actually in the right place, we do need to be on the 'Billing' side of the application and then in 'Firm Settings'.
If we go back to our 'Firm Settings' on the 'Billing' side, click 'Activity Codes' and then we can select 'Expenses'. So it's a little bit hidden but just a reminder again, that you do need to be on the 'Billing' side of the application to do expenses, if your firm is not using Amicus Billing, they will not be able to create Expense Entries. But, if you do have 'Billing', you can see here we have a number of Expense Codes that come with Amicus that you're undoubtedly familiar with, and then you can go ahead and either create entirely new Expense Codes or simply select and edit an existing Code. So, for example, if I wanted to change the per unit price for our copying here from 20 cents, to lets say, 50 cents, we could do that. If I wanted to, for example, change it so that every time we did an Expense Entry for outside printing, we wouldn't have a per unit price, we'd have to manually put that in, we would be forced whenever we do an Expense Entry for outside printing to put in the per unit price.
Ah, okay. So, on that 'Combine on Bills', that's also a good question. Oops, sorry, let's go back to our Expenses. And this is primarily used in copying or photocopying actually. What this does is for 'Combine on Bills', you have 'Never' or 'Always'. Let's say I do 20 photocopies one day and then I do 20 photocopies the next day and then I do 30 photocopies a couple of days after that and I do an Expense Entry for each of those different runs of photocopies. Rather than having three line items on a Bill, they will be combined into one. So Amicus will basically just aggregate all of those photocopies into one line entry. So it will be the total of all photocopies for that particular Bill. So it basically just cleans up the Bill, rather than having multiple photocopies or long distance phone calls, it will just aggregate that into one line item on the Bill.
To answer your question, Michelle, I wish it would combine total of copies for a day. I mean, if you did one Expense Entry at the end of the day for all the photocopies, then you would be good to go. But unfortunately, Amicus Attorney won't really do that for you. It doesn't know how many copies you make. So, you would have to just do one Expense Entry at the end of the day for all of the copies that you made for that particular client.
Alright. So we actually just came up to the half hour, so we're going to have to call it a day. Before you go, however, I just want to remind everyone that AbacusMaximus is coming up. AbacusMaximus is our big event for the year, it's being held in sunny Las Vegas, July 9th through 11th, Planet Hollywood. And here we have two full days of AbacusNext product demonstrations, featured speakers, training breakouts, exhibitor halls and the likes. We certainly do recommend having a quick peek. The website for that is abacusmaximus.com and there you can find information on our, as I said, big event for this summer and we certainly do hope to see you there.
Alright, that wraps up this webinar. Thank you everyone for joining us. We hope that you found this session informative and useful. If you have any questions about this webinar or need information on future webinars, please visit www.abacusnext.com/webinars. In addition to these webinars, we want to remind you that we do offer training and these trainings are dynamic sessions with a designated trainer. So, everyone in your firm will be able to ask questions and seek guidance. We have training regiments that are basically based around different areas within the application. We certainly do recommend these. Especially if you have new staff or even staff that have been using Amicus for some time, that are maybe not as familiar as you wish they would be.
To schedule training, simply head over to our website and that is abacusnext.com and from there, simply select 'More', 'Schedule Training and Upgrades', select 'Amicus Attorney' in this case, 'Training' and you can see here, you have the option to book one or two hour long sessions. There are some suggested training topics on screen here but as before, these are interactive sessions so you can actually have an informal Q&A or if you wanted to look at various tidbits within the application, all of that is possible. All you need to do is schedule your training via our website.
So again, thank you very much everyone for joining us and I wish you all a wonderful rest of the day.