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How to Use the AbacusLaw Rules Engine

AbacusLaw, Free Training Thursday, Webinars

In this recorded training webinar, learn how the AbacusLaw rules engine can be customized to calculate all critical deadlines for a matter based on Federal, State and your jurisdiction’s court rules.

About Free Training Thursday: Since 2017, 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 now, Results CRM and OfficeTools Software. If you would like to request a topic, please

Video Transcription

Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s Free Training Thursday. My name is Kalei White and I’m a marketing coordinator here at Abacus. Today we have with us Scott Heist, he’s one of our software trainers, and we’ll be going over today how the AbacusLaw rules engine works. This will be about a 20 to 30 minute webinar presentation, and we will take your questions during the last 10 minutes, so please feel free to submit your questions in the question portion of the GoToWebinar control panel. We will be recording this as well, so no need to take notes or fret because your colleague didn’t make it. We will send you the recording later on. So, that’s about it. Without further ado, I’ll let Scott take it over.

Hey Scott!

All right, thanks Kalei. Thanks everybody for joining. Like Kalei said, we’re going to be talking about the rules engine.

Hopefully, everybody can see my screen. If you can see it, go ahead and click the little hand raise button there on your GoToWebinar screen. Okay, great. And then, I’m assuming you can hear me if you just raised your hand. Obviously, you followed my instructions. So, that sounds good. Thank you so much for doing that. Now, just full disclosure here, I’m on my laptop, so if things look a little small, I apologize for that. I’m trying to make my screen as big as possible here.

We’re going to be talking about the rules engine. So, the rules engine can get used a couple different ways. You obviously have civil procedure rules, different rules for like federal, state, local, things like that. But you also can have internal rules. So, each firm’s a little bit different. If I take on a new divorce case, maybe I have ten things that I always calendar within the first 30 days, right? I draft a fee agreement, I send that fee agreement to my client, I run a conflict check, I’ll request financial statements, right? Little things like that.

With a rules engine, you can have the system calendar all of those reminders and all of those events for you automatically on your calendar. And basically, all you have to do is just kick off the rule. You just schedule one event based on that rule, and boom, the system automatically calendars whatever the relating events are within that rule.

So, if you think about civil procedure rules out there, I mean, some of those things are absolutely crazy. When you get assigned a trial date, there’s 30 things you have to do leading up to that trial date. And then there’s 10 things you have to do after that trial date, right? So, if you’re the person who’s doing that calendaring inside of your system, it can be a very, very tedious job. Not only does it take a long time, but the more events that you have to calendar on your own, the more room there is for error. So, we don’t want to be missing deadlines and things like that. So, the Abacus rules engine is a fail safe for you. It’s kind of like a safety net.

We get all of these rules from the fed, from the states, from local superior courts and things like that. Okay? So, we’re confident that the rules are accurate, and you should be confident in that, too. So, that’s the other nice thing about utilizing AbacusLaw rules.

So, if you haven’t looked at rules ever in AbacusLaw, let me point your attention to the rules menu. Okay? In the top left corner of your AbacusLaw program, you can click that little file menu, go into setup, and then in your setup menu, there’s the option for rules. This is your list of all of your installed rules. So, your list may be a lot bigger than mine. You may have some internal rules. You may have purchased civil procedure rules for your state, local rules for your area, maybe some federal rules. But it should look something similar. What you have here is a rule name, which is kind of like an abbreviation of the rule, and then you have the description about what that rule entails.

For instance, if we look at this one here that says, “File Complaint in San Diego,” if we were to edit that rule, just to kind of see behind the scenes, that pulls up the details of this rule. So, if you look at this little window here, we’ll break it down. We’ve got seven different events inside of this rule, okay? We have some daily intervals here. Notice this interval column. These are day numbers, okay? Sixty days out, 30 days out, 15 days out, 140 days out, okay? And then, we have a description about what each one of those events is. Serve the complaint, proof of service, response deadline, file judgment, different things like that. Okay?

So, what I always tell people when I train them on rules, first things first. You have to be become familiar with the rules that you have in your system, okay? Get in there and really study these rules to see what they entail. With your civil procedure rules and things like that, you’re not going to want to do much editing to those. As a matter of fact the only time you should be editing any sort of civil procedure rule, is if you’re just adding extra reminders to it. Everything else, you should really just leave alone, because again, we get those from the courts. So, we don’t want you changing those, because you could potentially miss a deadline. Okay?

But if you look, again, if we were to just highlight one of these rules here, interrogatories received, and I click edit, this tells me there’s four events inside of that rule. I meet with my client to review, I draft responses, I have a reminder that responses are due with 10 days, and then I have my date that the interrogatory responses are due. Okay. So, here we’ve got a five day interval. So, in other words, when I calendar this, five day out, I’m going to meet with my client to review interrogatories. Fifteen days out, I’m going to draft my responses. Twenty days out, I have a reminder that responses are due within 10 days. And then sure enough, 30 days out, which is 10 days after 20, right, I’ve got my interrogatory responses due.

That’s the beauty of rules, right? We just kick off one single event based off of the rule, and the program calendars all the rest of those dependent events for us. Okay? And that works with any rule that you have.

Let’s see it in action. Let’s go ahead… now, I’ll do it from the calendar, but just so you know, you don’t have to schedule all of your events from the calendar. And some of you may know this if you’re more experienced in the program. You can calendar them directly within the matter itself. Okay? Inside of the matter, you have a little tab that says events. Okay, and inside of that events tab, you can always just right click and select “Add Events from a Rule.” Okay, you have that option there.

But if you’re the calendar clerk, maybe you always create events from the calendar itself, just make sure that when you right click on your calendar and you select “Add Events from a Rule,” make sure you specify the matter that these events are for, okay? The program does not assume to know the matter, okay, you have to tell the program if you’re going to be doing it directly on the calendar. So, I would right click on my calendar and I would select “Add Events from a Rule,” that pulls up my list of rules, that same little menu that I showed you before, okay? And I would just select my rule, click done, fill in my event window just like I normally would with any other event, right? I got to put in my “who” code. Now, notice the “what” code automatically filled in for me based off of that rule. Okay? Every rule is assigned a “what” code. That’s how the system knows to trigger the rest of those reminders, the rest of the events in that rule.

Make sure your date is accurate, make sure your time is accurate, if the time of day matters for that event. And then, make sure you fill in whatever it may be, a little bit of a description here. I’ll just put in “test event” for now. And then, like I said, you’re on the calendar, right, when you create this rule or when you kick this rule off. So, the matter and the name doesn’t autofill for you. Okay? So, you need to tell the program which matter this is for.

And then once I click save, the system notices that I had that “what” code for my rule applied. So, it’s giving me a little heads up here saying, “You are scheduling an event that is associated with a rule. Do you want the related events scheduled?” Well, nine times out of ten, yes, that’s the whole reason you chose the rule, right? So, you’re going to go ahead and say yes here. That’s going to pull up a list of the events and show you the dates that they’re going to fall on. So, I already see one flag right here. Saturday, okay? We all know in this industry, things don’t really happen on Saturdays, right? So, what we would probably want to do for this, is adjust this date to be the Friday before. So, I can just highlight that event, click edit, and I can change my date. Okay? I’ll make that a two, I click save.

It asks me if I want to update any related events, which is very handy if I had events after that date, okay? But since I don’t, I’m going to say no. But basically, if you had a bunch of events after that date, in this rule, you can say yes here, and the system would automatically recalculate the date interval for each of those remaining events on the list. So, I’m going to say no, since I don’t have any dates afterward. And there we go, so now I’ve got a calendar event on Tuesday, Friday, Wednesday, and Friday. Okay? So, now I click done. I click done again. There’s my original event. And if I were to look at that matter and go to the events tab, I’ve got all the rest of my events, okay, right there linked.

Also, if I were to just go to those dates on the calendar, I would see them there as well. I think there was one on the ninth. Oh no, that wasn’t it, 2/3 maybe, 2/2. There we go. See, if we look up there in the top right corner, on February 2nd, see that event? We didn’t have to go to February 2nd and calendar that. The system calendared it for us on that date, because it knew based off of the rule and the interval that responses are due on February 2nd. So, that’s kind of nice. You didn’t have to calendar it. You just come in on February 2nd, open up your calendar, and boom, there it is. You know that those are due on that date.

Going back into the behind-the-scenes, as I like to call it, for our rules. File, setup, rules. That opens up our menu. If we need to modify or just look and see what the rule entails, we can just highlight it and click edit. If you are, in fact, going to modify the rules, okay, and maybe you’re new to the program or you’ve never modified rules before, notice we have a clone button here. Feel free to … and actually I’m telling you, you should do this if you’re new to the program. You should clone that rule and then edit the clone. Okay? That way if you make a mistake, or if it becomes a mess, everything’s okay. You still have the original that you can fall back on. Okay? So clone it, edit the clone, that way you have a fallback in case you mess something up.

But what I’m going to do, since I just want to see behind the scenes, is I’m going to edit it. That pulls up all of my events, and then this is where I can add additional reminders. Note the add button there in the bottom left corner. Okay? All I need to do whenever I add a new event to this rule, is I give it a little “what” code. Okay, I’m just going to use reminder, but you have plenty to choose from. And you can create your own. Okay? Make sure you put in a description, you know the “Reminder to Contact Client.” “Reminder to Contact Opposing Counsel.” Whatever it is, okay? And then, always make sure you’re putting in the proper interval, okay?

The “relative” field, notice there’s a column next to “interval” called “relative.” That’s another important column, because without that “relative” field, we have no clue what this interval relates to, right? So, these first two that say “60,” that’s 60 days relative to zero day. So, in other words, the day you calendar the item. Okay? Responses, though, are relative to event number one. See that “one” right there next to the 30, that means it’s 30 days after this is completed. This next one that says, “Request default,” 15 is the interval, that’s 15 days, but it’s relative to event number three. So, that means it’s 15 days after event three gets calendered. So, that’s why I want to make sure our relative is accurate and our interval is accurate. Okay? Make sure that those look correct. Okay? And if you need to change them or edit them, you can do that, okay?

And so, that’s the basics of the rules engine. Again, very, very handy. They’ll save you a lot of time, but the first thing you need to do as a user of Abacus, is you have to become familiar with the rules that you have in your system. You want to become a pro at interpreting these rules. Because if you do that, they will make your life very, very easy. Okay?

Well, I don’t see too many questions from you all today.

You know, that’s really the basics of it. Really with rules, you’ve got to get in there and you’ve got to start using them. It’s not uncommon to not have a lot of questions right out of the gate. When you get in there, though, and you start playing around with those rules, you start actually using them on your calendar, questions are going to arise, okay? And when they do, just shoot us an email at, and if it’s something that we can quickly just answer, you know, a quick response email, we’ll do that. If it’s something we feel we should probably schedule some time with you to talk about it, we’ll be able to do that as well. But again, you got to get in there and play around with those rules, so that you understand them.

I hope everybody has a wonderful afternoon. Thank you so much for joining us today, and hope to see you next time.

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