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Improve Workflows with Personalization in AbacusLaw

AbacusLaw, Free Training Thursday, Webinars

We know that not everyone in your firm holds the same role. In this twenty minute webinar, learn how you can customize your AbacusLaw program to meet the specific needs of each employee in your firm.

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Alright, thanks everybody for joining me. This is Scott Heist again, senior trainer here at Abacus Next. I have my colleague, Amanda, on as well who will be reading off questions for us at the end.

Just real quick, by show of hands, if you can click that little hand raising button just to let me know that you can see my AbacusLaw program.

Alright, cool, thanks everybody for acknowledging that. And I’ll assume that since you raised your hand, you can obviously hear me, so the audio must be good as well.

So basically what we’re going to be talking about today is work flows inside of the AbacusLaw system. Ask your questions inside of that chat box on your GoToMeeting screen and we will get to those at the end. We’ll do our best to answer as many as we can and if we can’t get to everybody’s, don’t worry. We keep a log of those questions with your email address and we will follow up with you by email afterwards.

We’ll also be sending out a link to the recording for these as well, so don’t feel like you have to take copious notes. You can always watch the recording later, if you need to.

So we’ll go ahead and get started. Like I was saying, work flows. You can kind of approach work flows in AbacusLaw a couple of different ways. It really just depends on what phase of case creation you’re really wanting to turn into a work flow. I see law firms use them when a case gets created, so the actual intake process tends to get turned into a work flow.

And then I also see them used, obviously very often, when it comes to calendaring. Calendering reminders, calendering appointments, and calendaring tasks, right? When we think about a work flow, usually what we’re doing is we’re calendaring some sort of task that we’re assigning to people in our office of things they need to check off their list, right?

So every time we take on a new personal injury case, right, we have 20 things we’ve got to do. We’ve got to send requests for medical information. We’ve got to contact insurance companies. We’ve got to contact defendants, things like that. So all of those items can be things that would be inside of an internal work flow.

So first let’s talk about intake. Now inside of your Abacus program, you should have a couple different versions of intake forms. For those of you out there who have our Practice Area Essentials that are specific to certain practice areas such as immigration, personal injury, criminal defense, so on and so forth, you’ll have intake forms specific to those practice areas.

But what you want to do to create a proper new case intake work flow is you need to become familiar with the intake forms that you have. So if I’m doing a new civil litigation case and my firm always represents the plaintiff, then I want to open up this civil litigation case intake form, client plaintiff, and I want to look at this and try and figure out what fields does our firm always need to harness. What data do we always need to grab when we are setting up a new case?

We probably always need to have a case name. We always want to put in a date that the case was opened. We probably try and assign it to an attorney and things like that, right? When it comes to logging client information and contact information, what questions do we always ask our clients? What’s your marital status? What’s your social? What’s your date of birth? Things like that, okay?

So those are the kinds of questions you want to ask yourself right out of the gate. What information does our firm always need when we start a new case? And each one of those little tidbits can be a field on an intake form, okay? So if for some odd reason, you guys always need to know your clients’ shoe size, obviously that’s not a field on an intake form by default, but you can add it, okay? That’s a field that you could add if you want it, okay? So step one, find out what fields you need. Okay? That’s in addition to just becoming familiar with the intake form that you have by default.

Now the next step in that situation is once we know what we want to add or how we want to edit our intake form, how do we do that? How do we start that process? Well, you actually do it under what we call the Intake Form Manager. So if you go into your set up menu and our admins out there will be familiar with this. You’ve probably been in this menu before. But if you look there, where my mouse is highlighted, we have our Intake Form Manager. That is going to open up a list of all of your intake forms. So all I would need to do at that point is just click on the intake form that I’m trying to edit and click that edit button.

Here’s a pro tip for you: if you’re feeling nervous about editing the original intake form, you can always clone it. Make a clone, make a copy of that intake form and just edit the clone. That way you can always fall back on the original, if you make a mistake.

But I’m going to click edit here and that opens up my Intake Form Manager where I have a records tab. On this records tab, I have all the different sections in my intake form. Here’s my section for my client, here’s my section for the defendant, here’s my section for the opposing attorney. And if I were to click into the edit properties menu of each section, I’m going to see the list of all the fields. Here’s all the fields in that section.

So I can remove the sections that we don’t want, or the fields, I should say, that we don’t want by just clicking that delete field. I can reorganize the fields by moving them up and moving them down, putting them in more appropriate positions as our intake work flow progresses. And I can also add fields to the intake form directly from my data base. So when I click that little button, that’s going to open up a list of all of my available fields and now I can pick and choose all the fields that I want to add into that section by just clicking the done button. That will add those into my section of the intake form. So once you have those in there, clicking that done button, that’s going to save your changes.

And then the other type of work flow that we see a lot is a rules-based calendar work flow. So again, remember I said every time you take on a new PI case or a new divorce case or whatever it is, you always have X-amount of things you have to check off the list. You’ve got to run that conflict check. You’ve got to send out representation letters. You’ve got to sign fee agreements, whatever it may be. You have the ability to tie your rules directly to your events.

If you’ve ever used rules calendaring inside of Abacus before, you will know that each rule is assigned to a what code. So if I have a what code called new civ case, like new civil litigation case, then if I time that to my intake form, then every time I complete my intake form, what’s the system going to do? It’s going to automatically kick off all of those events for me. I don’t have to go back and do it. The system’s going to do it for me.

So speaking of rules, and I’m just going to click out of this. I’m not going to save that intake form. I’m going to click out and go back to my main menu here. If you need to become familiar with your rules, which I highly recommend everybody do, you can access your rules menu by going to file, setup, rules.

Think of your rules as just step-by-step events. For those of us used to calendaring civil procedure rules, you probably know what I’m talking about. But if I look up … let’s see, I think I have a new case in here somewhere, I’m going to search for the new case. Yeah, okay, here we go. It’s a new criminal case. We’ll just use that as an example. It’s a new criminal case. If I were to highlight that and click edit, here’s my rule. Notice this rule has eight steps within it. Each step has an interval, a daily interval, of where it’s going to be calendared on our calendar system.

The first event in my rule is meeting with my client. Right there, meeting with client. The next step, one day later, notice my interval column says one, so that’s one day later, is running a conflict check. You’ve got to run the conflict check. Next interval, which happens to be the same day, is going to be the opening of my file. I have the opening of my billing account. I have my confirmation letter occurring seven days after. The drafting of my fee contract. The contact information I need to receive from my client. Client retainer. Each one of these items is a checkbox that we need to check off our list of things to do. So each one of these is an event.

So, what I would invite you to do to tweak your work flows, your rules, is to go into your rules database. Go into your rules menu. Find a rule that you think would be useful and modify that rule to fit your firm. So here, if I were to look at this and say, “You know, this rule looks good, but we don’t open a billing account. We don’t use billing.” Well, I could come in here and I can remove that step. I just highlight it and there’s a delete button on the bottom. I click that, that event’s gone. It’s not going to get calendared.

And then in addition to that, I can classify these events even more strictly. I can set defaults for each one. Like the conflict check. Maybe there’s a certain person in our office who always runs conflict checks. They’re the only person that does it. So if that’s the case, I can actually highlight this step in the rule, click edit, and in my editing window, I have a tab called event details. This is a very, very handy tab for setting defaults. Notice the who field. If a certain who in my office is the only person who runs conflicts, then I can choose that person from my list. See that? Now Corey is always going to get that event on their calendar.

I can always set priorities as well. I can set times if these are supposed to happen at a certain time of day. And I can set length of times. So again, you want to get in here and you want to become familiar with these fields, specifically event details.

So you’ll want to kind of modify that for each one of your events. If we have one person in the office that’s always sending out our letters, well, we should probably assign that confirmation letter completion event to that person. So just highlight that step, click edit, go to our event details tab, put in that who. That’s just a default. That just means it’s going to automatically default to that person. You know, if that person is off that week, that’s okay. You can always just go directly into the event on the calendar and update that and edit it, almost as a one-off situation. But it’s nice to have the default set, because if that’s the scenario 90% of the time, then you only have to change things 10% of the time. So that’s kind of a nice thing.

That’s the whole purpose of Abacus, right? To make it so your life is easier. We’re trying to improve your life here with the use of this technology.

So just a recap before we get into questions. Our intake form, major part of our new case work flow. It’s usually the first thing we’re doing. Filling in all the information about our new contact and our new case.

We can tie rules directly to our intake forms which automatically calendar all of our tasks that we have to complete. And to become familiar with our rules, we just go to file, setup, rules. We can take a look at the rules that we already have. We can add our own. We can clone rules that already exist. And we can edit them. Once we get into that editing menu, this is where we make the rules our own. We can add events to the rule. We can delete events that we don’t care about. And we can add defaults to each step, such as who it gets assigned to, what the priority is, what the time is, all that good stuff.

So that being said, I’ll let that sink in here for just a minute. And hopefully you’ve typed some questions there into the question box, in the chat box. And I will turn it over to my colleague, Amanda, and she will read out some of those questions.


Thank you, Scott. So I’m not seeing any questions at the moment, so let’s just give it a minute. As a reminder, if you have questions, please type them into the side bar now and we will read those out.

Absolutely. And while you guys are thinking, let me just show you something real quick. We are having our first annual user conference in Las Vegas this year. So we are hoping to see everybody there. You know we talk a lot on the phones, we talk a lot over email. It’s really nice to put faces to names. We’ll have a lot of our staff there. Almost all the training staff will be there so I see a lot of familiar names out there today on our training session, so hopefully I’ll get to meet some of you.

Just make note of the date. Make note of the location. And then the register link is there as well. It’s just and you can register to attend. So we’re hoping to see a lot of people there. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to have a lot of break-out training sessions. Tons of training information that you can attend across all of our platforms, every platform we have.

We’re also going to be talking about the future of our program as well. So we’ll be diving into that. And we have some great speakers that are going to be attending too. So please check out the website, register if you are interested, and come see me. I’d love to meet you.

Thank you Scott. Yeah, we’re definitely all looking forward to AbacusMaximus. It’s going to be in Vegas and it’s going to be an amazing time.

So our first question is, “This seems to be simple calendar tracking, not true work flow, missed date, auto-follow-up, etc. Is this correct?”

So it really kind of depends. You can make the auto calendaring as elaborate as you want. What we’re thinking about here is let’s say on a certain date we have an event requesting medical records. What you would want to do is build into that rule your follow-up dates. So for instance, if we follow-up seven days later, we would just have that built into the rule. Then that as a task would get checked off of our task list in our calendar.

So essentially, if I have my rules created with all my reminders and all my follow-ups and all that good stuff, then every time I open my calendar, my to-do list is going to have a list of all the things I’m supposed to do that day with my check boxes. So as I’m checking things off of my list, that rule, that work flow is moving on to the next thing I have to do.

So it’s kind of like a hybrid. It’s kind of like a hybrid work flow that’s really calendar-centric, calendar-centric.

So our next question is, “How can I print a summary of the work flow?”

So you can actually do that directly within the rules menu. There should be a print button for any one of those. You can print them out. And then we also have a report that you can run as well. You can see there’s one that’s already built in to the system, so you can do that.

Now if you want to see it on an individual matter basis, then you can actually just do an event rule, or an events report rather, that just targets specific matters.

“If Abacus sends out updates to the rules, will it keep my changes if I don’t pull in the rule?”

So what you should do is make sure you give it a different name. Because if the program … let’s say if there’s an update to your specialty version, yes, it will override the rules if you edit it. That’s a very, very good point. If you are making changes to the default rules that come with your program, you need to clone those and make your changes to the clone. Because if an update is run, it’s going to override the original and put it back to whatever is included in that update. So very good point, very good point.

“Can you incorporate a rule to an intake form?”

Absolutely, I encourage that. So you’ll notice on your intake form … and I’ll just do a basic one, basic new case intake form. We have a small section here. Select the who code for calendar events. This is kind of like the event window for your intake forms. All rules are attached to a what code.

So when you are in your intake form manager … let me pull that up again real quick. Oh let’s see, we’ll do civil lit. And I’m looking at my records tab. Here’s my events. I’ve actually got a couple of events here. I’ll just highlight one of these. See my what? I can set a default. My what code right here, that’s what triggers my rule.

So every rule has a what code assigned to it and if you put a what code in that field that has rule assigned to it, then when you save that intake form after you have completed it … okay, so in other words, if I … real quick, let me open that back up. If I click that little button in the bottom right that says create records and close, when my system goes through and checks all my fields, it’s going to get to that little event section and a little window is going to pop up on my screen that says, “You are calendaring an event that is associated with a rule. Do you want the related event scheduled?” And you would say, “Yes,” and it will take care of it for you.

“I would like to keep a work flow summary in the file for contact names and other case information. How do I do that?”

So it really just depends on what information you’re trying to grab. So, Amanda, if you could just log that person’s contact info, I will follow-up with them outside of this session and we can go over that.

No problem.

So the next question is, not a direct question, but important to set up an event detail to go to one person, “How do I set my email message default to all? It constantly goes back to our lead attorney.”

So I think … I’m not sure I’m following when you say the email. I think you’re referring to the code, so it’s probably going to go back to whoever the who is that is assigned when the intake form is completed. So remember, on your intake form, you have a little field here for responsible attorney. So that kind of ties to different areas of the program. So I’ll probably need to take a look at that on your screen.

So again, Amanda, if you could just log that person’s info, I’ll follow up with them and see specifically what they’re referring to.


So the next question is, “Can you do auto-escalation to a higher level attorney should a date be missed?”

So it’s not going to be auto, you would have to manually do it. The thing about auto-escalation … well, I guess it kind of depends. That could go either way, depending upon what you mean by that. So again, I can follow-up with you. Amanda, make a note of that and see if we can get an actual example.

But for the most part, each event … if you’re not tying it to somebody’s who code or to a specific what code or to a specific priority, it isn’t going to do it automatically just based off of the event type. At some point, when you create that rule, you’re going to have to tell the program. You can always alter it later on, when the event is created. For instance, if I have an event that is being assigned to a specific attorney for a new case but it turns out that attorney is on vacation, I can always just open up that event and assign it to a different one. So you could do that. But it kind of depends so we’ll re-visit that.

Okay, great.

So the next question is, “I used HotDocs and found out Abacus has acquired HotDocs. Is a way coming to merge intake data into HotDocs forms?”

Absolutely, absolutely. So thank you for pointing that out. We are very, very happy about that move. HotDocs is a part of our family now.

Yeah, integration is going to be huge between the two programs. We can get you some more info on that as it kind of unfolds. But don’t you worry, as those integration features are developed and rolled out, you guys will be the first to know. So make sure you have your admin alerts on. Make sure you have the AbacusNext email domain set as a friendly email domain, so they’re not going to your spam or anything like that. Because we’re going to tell you the second that’s up live, we’re going to let you know.

But yeah, that all … all that’s coming.

And HotDocs will also be at the Abacus user conference. So if you use both, that’s definitely a great opportunity to get some training across multiple platforms.

So it looks like that is all of our questions for today. If nobody has any further questions, Scott, do you have anything else to add?

Yeah, I just want to, as I say at the end of every webinar, any questions that pop up, you can always shoot an email to If it’s a basic answer, a lot of times we can just quickly respond in an email. If it’s something more involved, we’ll pick up the phone and call you or perhaps schedule something. So again,

And don’t forget to check out the user conference webpage, Take a look at all the cool things we’re going to be doing.

And everyone who has attended this webinar today will be getting a follow-up email with a copy. And there will be a link right in there to schedule some additional training if you do want to schedule a one-on-one training.

Well, thank you to everyone for attending today, and have a great rest of your week.

Bye everyone.

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