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Learn How to Use Intake Forms in Abacuslaw

Learn how Abacus Intake Forms let you enter data for the case, client, other linked names, calendar events, and notes in one step using a single window.

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Video Transcript

All right everyone. I’m so sorry. We had some technical difficulties. We just were notified that our screen wasn’t actually showing. Our apologies. What we’ll go ahead and do, if you all are willing to stay on, we’ll go ahead and start from the top again with our screen fully visible. It looks like we lost some people, but we’ll go ahead and do that just because no one could actually see anything. So I’ll let Ben go ahead and start it off. We’ll still have our regular Q&A at the end if you all would like to stay and participate in that. Okay.

Thank you Andrew. Sorry again about that situation. I’m just going to start all over again guys. I again, deeply apologize for that inconvenience, and hopefully you guys can hang in there.

All right, so again, the intake form of what we’re trying to do is, the whole point of the intake form is that it’s gonna save you time, right? Instead of just adding a matter, then adding a name, then linking them together, that technically right there is three steps. Right? At any given point, the intake form is gonna facilitate all that, so you can go and do all of it at once.

Again, as I was saying, I don’t know if most of you are using this properly as far as the intake is concerned, the intake form, but if you’re just adding a matter by going into your matters icon and then hitting add and adding one matter and then following through after you add the matter, right? You would add the name.

Then after that you would come into your link names tab and add a link to link that which you’re going in and just created into the matter. That, technically, is three steps. If you were to add more names and link more names, then you have to create name records and then link them as well. So technically speaking, that would be another step.

Instead of having to do that all in different screens and add them and linking them – manually that would take seven, nine steps depending on how many names you want to link. What the intake does is, it’ll facilitate all that and it will expedite that process all in one step. If you click on the intake form, here, of course, as the trainer, I have all the different practice areas here. For this particular instance I’m going to use the Abacus family as in the family law, the divorce case intake form.

When you go in, you’ll have the information, this section, for your case. This happens for each practice area, right. At the top you’re going to have the case information. Then, obviously, the names that you’re trying to link as far as the client. As a client, also, you can go down the line here. You’ll be able to then enter in the opposing party’s information, the name that you’re linking, and then of course the opposing counsel. In this particular example of the family law as you’re linking the names or adding names, sorry filling in the name records, you’re also creating a link. The overall effect is that at the end of it, all everything’s going to be, every name that you’re creating is going to be already linked to the matter. That in itself, you’re cutting the process in half as opposed to having to add it, then link it, all in here you’re adding it and as your adding it and you’re entering the information, you’re linking it right away. Okay.

The other advantage of the intake form is what I like to call the event that you can link for a calendar event. In this process, right, just to give you an example, when we’re referring to let’s say the subsequent action items that need to be taken care of as far as the intake process is concerned, you can just simply put add the individuals that are needed to handle that. Right? This is the data entry part of it, but someone after the fact will have to handle maybe with entering opening of the file or opening of the billing account, in the billing maintenance section of the invoice. You get to determine how these are going to get billed to the client. Are they standard rates, are they non-standard rates that you’re billing for the time keepers.

After that, your talking about someone doing a confirmation letter or drafting a fee contract. So all these things need to happen so one part of the intake that is very useful is that you can actually assign who, if defeated, is under this section in the hoop code for the responsible attorney. So maybe in your link you want the events to be calendars to be seen by the attorney, by the paralegal, by the secretary and by the billing person.

All of that can be handled and taken care of through this section by just simply listing them. You just have to go under look up and all of your users, end users, should be available with their initials and you can just add them on here.

You can add up to four individuals. If you want more than four individuals to be aware that this intake form is being opened, then you must create what we cal a work group. So four more, you’re going to need a work group, other than you can list each one of them here.

Again, the end product of the intake form is that all the linking is going to be done for whatever name records you’re entering and you can only see it by just reading each one of the information you’re entering for that name, entering the information for the opposing counsel, in this case for the opposing party’s spouse, of course for the client. And then it will go through, when you hit create records and close towards the bottom here. Under create records and close, you will then be able to see that all these particular fields are going to turn in to name screens and matter screens.

You also have the ability to go into a saved draft and temporarily save what you worked on. Let’s say you were summoned into a conference call and you could just go and assist in whatever way you’re needed and then come back to it later on. How do you come back to it later on? As long as you saved the draft, just go to the intake form and just go into saved draft. And there it will have your initials as to you created that saved draft, the date of the actual draft and the type of intake form that it is. You can then go back in and when you’re done, you’ll be able to then hit create record and close.

So when you hit create records and close all the way at the bottom here, this will translate over into matter screen and name screens. The end product would look something along these lines. So if I go into my links name tab, you’ll then be able to see when you fill out the intake form that someones going to be obviously assigned whatever you fill that as the client will show up and have a link type as the client here. The attorney, opposing attorneys, the judicial, the counsel as well and the spouse.

So all this information is going to be done for you. That does not stop you from actually adding other names. You can always do so after the intake form is created. But the intake form itself facilitates this process, doing all the linking and filling it all out in one window. So along with all the calendar events that can get already preset within a specific rule as to you’re seeing in this case when this was opened back in May 25th, on that first date someone had to meet with the client. And eventually the who here that you’re entering, notice how I entered BD, CP, DSW and EL in all of these examples, eventually you can come back in here and modify who actually took care of that event.

You might have listed all of them and they will be able to all see it on their calendars, but eventually only one person met with the client, you’ll be able to then modify it in this situation. Because you can double click on that event and then modify the who by just entering the initials of the person that handled it.

If they haven’t handled it and hasn’t been completed you’re going to see it on each one of these individuals as you’re actually entering them under the intake form.

So these particular events are already within a specific rule. The rule in the example of the family law is that it’s a new case. So for that new case family law, someone’s going to meet with the client for the first time on that same day. On that same day someone’s also going to open up the billing account. Maybe that day later someone’s doing a conflict of interest check. Then someone did the confirmation letter the day after that. And of course, a week later I should say, and then a week after that someone took care of the drafting contract.

So these can all be embedded within that particular intake form and it can be handled that way. So the intake form has its advantages as you can see. Not only are all the events can be calendared, all the linking is done, and to top it all off, it will have a bill to link type, so that you know who to send the invoice to.

This will allow you to set up the matters properly so then you can start adding notes and making them of course and create time tickets. You can now create a time ticket unless you have a bill to already embedded within that particular matter. So those are the advantages of the intake form as far as the setup. It’s a lot easier to do it this way as opposed to having to add the matter, add the name, link the name to the matter and do it manually that way.

Along with these intake forms, you might be able to also create those intake forms. So let’s say that you did like the family law one, but within these fields, this fuller firms need, you need to add a few more fields so that you can actually, when you’re filling out the intake forms it would have them in place. You can actually customize the intake form as much as you would like, as far as adding more fields to the intake form, doing more linking specifically, all of that can be controlled under file, setup, intake form manager.

I have mentioned before that I have different Practice Area Essentials, [inaudible 00:10:49] as you can see from here I have those intake forms that come along with those specific Practice Area Essentials. So I have the one for criminal defense that has all these intake forms. I have the one for civil litigation, I have all the ones for family law. So depending on whether you purchase these Practice Area Essentials or not you’re also going to have these available to you as far as the intake forms are concerned.

So if you were interested in maybe looking into the family law ones that will have an adoption case, a custody case, a divorce case, there are going to look slightly different. You can take the one that already exists and you can prune it and make slight modifications to it. Any modification that you need to do to a specific intake form, we recommend that you clone them. Why? Because that way if we ever do upgrades or updates to any of our Practice Area Essentials it would override what already exists in the original.

So don’t edit the original, I’d rather you clone the original and make modifications. That way you can continue to hae your intake form that you’ve created and you’ve cloned as opposed to getting overwritten when we do an upgrade or an update, so you don’t run that risk. So just to show you really quickly, how does the form look under form manager and the back end. I go to the divorce one which is the one you saw, and I would hit edit. I don’t know if it’s clear on your screen [inaudible 00:12:19] but the start of it, this is how you would enter information about the case. If you want to leave it as Abacus Family Law Divorce intake form, you obviously will as it’s the original, but you can change it here. You can change the name completely. So if you were to clone then you can change and make your own name when it comes to the form.

If you proceed to the records section, I’m going to just give you a quick comparison of what you saw. Whenever you are entering the name record, it was going in it as a bill to and not the client. Whenever you went to the second it was the event section here, this is referring to if I go to edit properties, this is referring to the what, the what is going to be that rule that we were talking about. And that was the new case as a default value. The new case that I showed you had open up the file, open up the billing account, confirm the confirmation letter, that’s the rule that was embedded within this intake form.

At any given time you can create your own rule and attach it to the form if you would like to do that.

Going back here, further out you would have, that was the events section, where you can enter the initials of individuals and then you have the spouse information and the names. So this is just saying that whatever name you enter it was linking it up to spouse. Whatever name you enter into the third and last one, it was the opposing counsel. Do you remember that? So if I go back really quickly, just to show you what I’m referring to, and the family law, okay, this was the client. That was the first one.

Whatever information I’m entering here will be linked as the bill to and as a client type. If I further go down, you see the opposing counsel? That was the information of the main record that you were entering. Then going over into the last one, the opposing counsel, whatever information you enter would then would be shown here. Okay. So that’s the intake form in a nutshell. Okay, and that’s really how you can modify and customize it. You can always if you go back into the intake form, lets say you don’t like any of the ones we offered, you do have the ability to go to the add button and you can add from the template, add from scratch or use the full sample form.

This in itself obviously I’m just giving you the capabilities of what you cannot do.For that there needs to be another training. You can customize these, we can make an assessment if you don’t want to learn how to do it yourself. So there’s different ways to approach it.

1. We can make an assessment, you give us a sketch or a form exactly of everything, or exactly how you want it and we’ll do it for you, or you can design the intake form yourself. You can fiddle around and try to do it on your own. So you do have options when it comes to the intake form. That the gist of the intake form is that it really will help you expedite the process of data entry and how to interlink everything properly as well as having calendar events or having the bill to already added separately.

That is the concept of the intake form.

I would like to be able to complete and intake form and at the conclusion of the completion of the form have the system automatically generate a form, ie. letter to client confirmation our firm’s retention. How do we do that?

So within the rules that you choose, you do have the ability to add a form right away. So if I were to go and show you under the rule, you give me one second, under the rule that you create and by the way I don’t know your extent or your experience with rules, but if you go to file, set up, rules, okay, depending on the rule that you’re choosing, any one let’s say this one, an adoption case, within that adoption case if you wanted to fill in a form with any one of these, or such malpractice, again, any of these action items within a specific rule. Remember the rule you can recreate, you can modify, you can make a [inaudible 00:17:33] so if you needed to add a specific form where you’re drafting an adoption decree, you can always go into the edit section, and you’ll see it will say form here. So you can either add an Abacus form that you already have within your templates, within your forms or within the library, or you can go grab a form that you already created through Microsoft word.

And its just as simple as, lets say you if you had some Abacus forms built within, you can go in this is my library, again let’s say I just wanted to add a thank you letter. As an example, as long as the form already exists you double click on it and it will know to attach a form to that particular description of the event of the what within a specific rule.

So when this comes up on your calendar, you just have to hit fill form and it will fill in the form for you.

Hopefully that answers your question.

Why is it helpful to create two links to the client record as client and as bill to? Why not just bill to?

Excellent question. So the whole concept of the link types is that you’ll be able to use those later on for form generation purposes. So if I go in to any one of these and we are looking at the right names, if later on I want to add a merge field to a form that says, that you need to put in the client’s address, well if I haven’t determined that Kourtney Cox is my client, then it won’t know to grab for any name record and say okay give me Kourtney Cox address for that merge field. So this would type, not only to do with functionalities within you know, billing purposes, but also for form generation purposes. So as you’re linking the name, clearly to this case or type it’s just a matter of a few clicks and having the right merge fields at the right time but also the linking has to be done properly.

If you don’t have anything linked as the client, or clearly if you have the right merge field of a client address, it won’t know where to find what the client has been linked to a specific matter.

Can you edit or customize an intake form to enter info into custom fields in matters screen?

Certainly. The whole idea is that if you do want, whatever you’re creating in the intake form to ultimately be in the matter screens, because that’s the whole purpose, you would have to obviously customize those fields within the matter first. So basically if I go to Cox Rojas and let’s say in this main screen you wanted to have date of birth somewhere here as the information. Actually not date of birth but any information that you wanted to add here, you would obviously have to add it into the intake form, or necessarily not even have it to add to the intake form, you can just have it as part of the matter screen and fill it in after the intake form is done. You can have it in multiple places or the same place, or just make some modifications to the screen.

Do all the intake forms created appear on the calendar?

So as long as you’re using a specific rule, that would have a specific, that would have those events, they can be calendared. If you just go to any name as far as the initials within that entry form, it will just be blank and it won’t appear on anybody’s calendars. So basically what I’m saying is, if you did the intake form, okay, and you didn’t put anybody under the who, it will still say all the events that have been linked here, but it won’t show up on anybody’s calendar because you haven’t assigned it to anybody.

Right, this is another one from John Beddard. We have several rate levels at the firm. Is it possible to choose a billing rate schedule at the intake form stage?

So doing the intake form, not necessarily will you be able to assign it to tell someone to open up the billing account. Okay. Now by default, it’ll go to the standard rate as long as you set up all the standard rates. If it’s something besides the standard rate, you would then go to in to the matter main section within billing and change that standard rate to whatever specific rates that you would want to set it up under. By default it goes to standard automatically, but if you needed to make it something other than standard, then you would have to go into actual, the billing icon, the green one, and go in to the matter section, the matter maintenance, and enter it through there.

How do I add a category to a matter?

So, I’m not 100% sure what you mean by that. But let me, before I even finish up that question let me conclude what I was telling to John. So John, in here you can go into the matters, matters section here under the maintenance. Pick the matter that you just created, and within there go to the rates section, and whatever rate level you’ve created, if it’s standard, it will say rate level 1, but you can add multiple rate levels and then they’ll show up in the screen as such and they’ll list the rates set for each one of the different, I mean they’ll set up the timekeeper’s rate for the different rate levels that you’ve created.

So going back to how do I add a category to a matter? So the matter … how do I modify a note to show up on a report?

Let me ask first, how do I add a category to a matter? If you are thinking as a matter to be a specific case type, so as I understood it correctly, when you create a matter you already, depending on the intake form that you’re using, you already, you know in the case of a divorce, that’s already the code for the divorce. So, technically speaking, the case type for that particular matter would be divorce.

You can have a pre-set where under setup user preferences you can always alter the appearance, whenever you’re adding a new name, to prompt you for a class code, or whenever you’re adding a new matter, to prompt you for a case code. Okay. This is just your regular way of adding a particular name or a particular matter. Let me just show you what I mean by that.

So if I go in to my matters, and I go to add, it’s going to tell me, pick a case code. So as far as giving it a category as I think what you’re mentioning is, I’ll then be able to say okay, well I’m opening up a divorce case, or I’m opening up an adoption case. I’ll type adoption. You would then fill it in. If it doesn’t exist you can actually add it yourself and create your own list. Edit, add, edit delete. In this instance you hit the adoption, pick done, it’ll then say adoption is a new case you want to open and that will take you directly to a new matter screen just for adoption.

But if you do it directly to the intake form it’ll know because you’re doing an adoption intake form, to call it and categorize it as adoption.

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