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Why should you choose a certified consultant to setup you legal software?

April 11th, 2013

Hiring an experienced consultant like 2b1 Inc. to customize your practice management software is crucial

In recent months we have seen a trend from software vendors to try to enter more in the services area and bundle with the software additional services like installation, customization and training. Even though it looks good at a first look it does not provide the best service for the clients.

From my experience in being contacted from new clients after the initial customization with software vendors, I have notice a few things that concern me. The customization was done in a rash without considering the full needs of the client and the customization is incomplete. Other complains I hear is the long delays that the client has to endure before getting the services that they paid for.

In a previous blog I explain the 3 steps of the customization: 1. Create the custom fields and records, 2. Create the document templates and 3. Create the precedents. What I often see is that the customization stops at step 1.

It does take time for the client to understand what they can do with the new software. Then it will take a couple of iterations to flash out the custom fields and records to get them just right. Also the customer needs to understand the purposes of custom fields and records. Now we can create document templates from fax cover pages and letterheads to retainer contracts, proof of services and file reports. Finally now that we have a place to hold the file’s information and a way to get that information in documents, we can focus on creating procedures and workflows by using Precedents.

Precedents are a sequence of linked events that can be added to a file. For example a “New Client” precedent could incorporate the first appointment, a task to print out an intake form, a task to create a retainer (with a connection to the retainer template), a task to check if the retainer payment was received, and so on.

Many customer specialists at software vendor don’t have the time to really understand how your firm works so they make assumptions that can cost you later. A good consultant will make the time to learn how your firm works. He or she provides you with some examples and guides you through the different steps of working with your clients. Then based on that the consultant will create custom fields and records, documents templates and precedents to make your practice very efficient. As a bonus having a well organize practice will increase the value of your firm.

Contact 2b1 Inc. to find out more information about customizing your practice management programs.

Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer – Amicus, Legal Evolve, Timeslips, and Worldox Certified Consultant.

2b1 Inc.

The Cloud Is Over Rated – Hype vs. Facts.

March 19th, 2013

Practice Management Software vs Practice Management Software in the Cloud - Amicus Attorney Premium 2013Let’s think for a moment what exactly users want in a Practice Management (PM) solution in the cloud, it is not to have the data in a datacenter, it is not to have a reduced the number of features compared to what they already are enjoying with the Practice Management Software installed in theirs PCs, but it is the ability to access the their client information and the ability to bill from as many devices as possible anywhere. We all like to have a direct connection to our client information. We like to be able to look up our calendar without worrying if all the information came over the Outlook link. We like to bill for that call we get when we are out of the office or that urgent e-mail in the evening at home. We like to track and bill for everything we do.

It is true that the cloud puts your data in a data center but right now all these cloud solutions are not very mature like the Practice Management Software on your PC nor have had enough development time to make the existing capability of regular PM software work smooth. It could be that you can’t generate a document from a template, easily attach an e-mail to a file, or add a series of linked events in the calendar.

So is there a good solution that gives me the benefits of both the cloud and the local PC? Yes. I call it “Hybrid Cloud”. The information still resides on your server at the office but you can still access most of your information through a web browser, from a smart phone, a tablet,  a PC or Mac at an Internet café.  Coming back from the Amicus Attorney conference in Toronto and seeing where the software vendors are going, it seems to me that for those who are not comfortable in having their firm information held by a third party (that if you miss a payment they may lock you out of your data), or don’t want to give up the current workflows that they already have on their Practice Management Software at the office, they can get it all with the new Amicus Attorney Premium 2013 with Amicus AnyWhere and TimeTracker.

Amicus Attorney Premium 2013

Amicus Attorney Premium has been developed over many years and it is stable. With this new iteration Amicus gained substantial speed and compatibility with all the new Windows 8, Windows 2012 Server and Office 2013. In addition with a few clicks we can enable Amicus AnyWhere to the users/timekeepers that need to access most of their information and be able to bill from anywhere there is Internet connection. Amicus AnyWhere takes the interface from Amicus Cloud, which was designed for use on mobile devices. Accessing the files, contacts, appointments, tasks, time sheets and more is strangely similar to Amicus Attorney on the desktop.

What we also learn at the conference was that Amicus AnyWhere can be updated on the fly and new capabilities added at any time as they get developed.

Does that mean that the cloud is not for any one? No. There are very specific situations where a cloud solution is ideal (attorneys in different geographical locations); however, many of my clients are asking if they should move to the cloud. For many of them the only reason they want to move to the cloud is to bill time, check client’s files and calendar info. From my experience over 17 years as an IT consultant for law firms, most clients still benefit more from a “traditional” solution but need accessibility to their data from anywhere.

Traditional Practice Manangment Software vs Cloud Practice Management SolutionIn order to make decisions about technology we need to start by looking at the firm processes. Ask yourself what do I need and where do I need it. Don’t let yourself get confused by the shiny new features of some cloud vendors but look at the whole picture. Let the cloud mature first. Also look if you are using your current Practice Management software to its fullest potential. If you are not sure what is the best solution start by writing down a list of all the processes you need then call a good Practice Management Consultant to go over those needs and that should give you an answer to where to go next.

Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer
Amicus, Timeslips, Worldox, Evolve Certified Consultant

2b1 Inc,
Law Firm Consultants since 1996
355 8th Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94103
www.2b1inc.com

More details about Amicus Premium 2013 – Web Interface

March 5th, 2013

Now that the launch of Amicus Premium 13 has arrived we can look deeper in what information of Amicus Attorney is available over the web and mobile interface.

In order to log into your web portal you will need to point the browser to an Amicus Attorney site. There you enter your email address and the password that you use to open Amicus Attorney at the office (make sure this password is a more secure one). You will be entering into a new user interface that was design for web sites and tablets such as iPads, and Android such as Galaxy Note. The icons are big and easy to tap on.

As we get into our web office, we see that the module’s buttons have been moved to the top of the screen vs. the left side on the desktop Amicus Attorney client. The modules available are: Home, Files, Calendar, Tasks, Contacts, Phone Calls and Time.

Amicus Premium 2013 - File

Amicus Premium 2013 - File web interface

Clicking or tapping on Files brings up the list of our active files like expected. Click on any of the file to open it and you have access to all the People connected to the file, its Appointments, Tasks, Phone Calls, Time Sheets and Notes. All the major actions like adding a new contact, creating a new event, making a call or email and doing a time entry are supported. Amicus Attorney events tells you which activities you have billed with the new “Time?” column.

Amicus Premium 2013 File Details of the Phone page

Amicus Premium 2013 File Details of the Phone page

The Calendar is quite impressive. Not only it shows you your appointments but you can also see other coworkers’ appointments. One nice touch is that you can click and drag appointments with in the calendar like on the desktop client. Entering an new appointment gives you many options including to make a repeat appointment and select the appropriate file and contact.

Amicus Premium 2013 - Group Calendar

Amicus Premium 2013 - Group Calendar

Similar to Calendar the Task module gives you a list of the upcoming tasks and it includes a column to track time.

Amicus Premium 2013 Task module web interface

Amicus Premium 2013 Task module web interface

Contacts module shows you a list of your contacts with names, company names and phone numbers. From this window you can initiate a new e-mail or a call. Click on a contact to see more the information. Tabs on the right of the general information allow us to edit the contact information: Profile, Contact (phone, email), Addresses and Notes.

Amicus Premium 13 - People module web interface

Amicus Premium 13 - People module web interface

Amicus Premium 13 - People details web interface

Amicus Premium 13 - People details web interface

Phone Calls module shows a list to the messages that you or anyone at the firm entered for you. Here you can create a new phone call or message. You can replay to a message and also see if you did a time sheet for that call with the usual “Time?” column.

Amicus Premium 2013 - Phone Calls module on the web interface

Amicus Premium 2013 - Phone Calls module on the web interface

Last is the Time module. Like you would expect you can create a new time sheet there and the list of your files will pop up. As you select the file the correct rate will apply to the entry. All your activity codes including the litigation codes are available corresponding to the file type selected. As soon as you save your time entry it will be available at the office for reports and for billing.

Amicus Premium 2013 - Time module on web interface

Amicus Premium 2013 - Time module on web interface

What is interesting is that all the information is traveling over the Internet encrypted at 256 bit (like your online banking) and none of the information is stored to the mobile device or browser but stays on the server’s firm.

With Amicus Premium 2013 you also get TimeTracker product which allows you to enter time from a smart phone like iPhone, Android, BlackBerry through their browsers.

Amicus Premium 2013 - TimeTracker

Amicus Premium 2013 - TimeTracker

Please contact 2b1 inc. for a quote. 415-284-2221

Pricing:

New Amicus Premium licenses

First license $999
Additional licenses: $599

Upgrade prices from another Premium version:

First license $499
Additional licenses $399

Maintenance contract which gives Amicus Anywhere and TimeTracker in addition to 1 year unlimited support and free upgrades:

3 year contract:

First license $350
Additional Licenses $250

1 year contract:

First license $450
additional license $350

If you have questions in how Amicus Premium 2013 will work for you call us at 415 284-2221.

Check with us to find out about special upgrade prices.

We do training as well as installation and customization of Amicus Attorney

Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer and Amicus Attorney Certified Consultant since 1997
2b1 Inc.

www.2b1inc.com

Amicus Premium Edition 2013

March 4th, 2013
Amicus Attorney 2013 Premium Anywhere
Amicus Premium 2013 Web and mobile log in

Amicus Premium 2013 Anywhere interface File module

Amicus Premium 2013 Anywhere interface File module

On Feb 21, 2013 Gavel & Gown has announced to the Amicus Certified Consultants the new Amicus Premium 2013. The official announcement was today March 4th.

This new version will bring Amicus Anywhere and Amicus TimeTracker to the SQL version of Amicus Attorney.  This means that once installed and configured, Amicus Attorney users, with the rights privileges, will be able to open a browser from their Macs, PCs, iPhones 4 and up, iPads, Android tablets and phones version 3 and up, Win Surface RT and even some touch BlackBerry phones and tablets and get the most of the Amicus Attorney Files, Contacts, Appointments, Tasks, Time Sheets and Communication in real time from the database on the firm’s server.

The online interface has been design similar to Amicus Cloud so it is easy to use with mobile devices and all the major functions are a tap or click away. You get very detailed information of your events, files and contacts and one of the most important features is the ability to enter time on the mobile device.

To make all this work you will need to upgrade to Amicus Premium 2013 and have an active Maintenance contract. No information is stored in the mobile device or browser and the communication from your device to the firm’s server is encrypted at 256 bit. It transits through Microsoft Could Azure which also does not store any of your data. You will need to have an active Internet connection to use Amicus Anywhere and TimeTracker since it accesses your firm’s Amicus Attorney database in real time.

Ron Collins is preparing the release of Amicus Premium 2013 PE in March and the upgrade are below (for those who don’t already have a maintenance plan).

As Amicus Attorney 2012 PE, Premium 2013 will run on a SQL 2008/2008 R2 and also on 2012. It is compatible with the new Windows 8 and Office 2013.

The demo that was given to the consultants was extremely fast and that is another improvement that Gavel & Gown worked in this new release: speed.

Prices for the new version are 1st license $999 (with the MS SQL database) and $599 for additional licenses. Maintenance can be as low as 1st license $350 and $250 for additional licenses per year over a three year commitment.

Upgrade from Premium prices are 1st license $499 and $399 for additional licenses

Upgrade from Small Firm prices are 1st license $999 and $399 for additional license.

With Amicus Premium 2013 you get the benefit of the cloud but the data is at your firm for peace of mind and security.

If you want a quote please contact us p: (415) 284-2221 or e-mail us.

Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer and Amicus Certified Consultant
2b1 Inc.
San Francisco, CA

Amicus Attorney Premium, Customization – Step 1 of 3 – Custom Pages

February 28th, 2013

As you work on your matters you will most likely need to track specific information about it. For example if you have a family law practice you will need to track information such as Petitioner Respondent, Date of Marriage (DOM), Date of Separation (DOS), number of children their names, when were they born and much more information. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all this information centralized in one place?

Amicus Attorney Custom Fields by 2b1 Inc - Family Law Case Summary

Family Law Case Summary Custom Page

Amicus Attorney Custom page - Family Law Property.jpg

Family Law Property Custom Page

Amicus Attorney Family Law Financial Custom Page

Family Law Financial Custom Page

This is where Amicus Attorney Premium underutilized custom fields are coming into play. To begin we need to know what information we need. You may already have an intake form. Start with that and you may want to add to it. Then group all the information logically so that we can have a Case Summary page, a Property page, Financial Accounts and more.

Now if you are an Amicus Administrator you will see that in the Office module there is an Administration section with a Custom Pages and Records option. There clicking on the New Custom Page will allow to create new half or full page where we can add every field that we need. The nice thing about Amicus Attorney custom fields is that it is relatively easy to use. Choose the field type e.g text, date, check box or even a pull-down list and position it where you need. Right click on the field to name it. The results can be amazing.

I have posted a few example of how far you can go in creating custom fields in Amicus Attorney Premium for Family Law and Unlawful Detainer Process. Keep in mind that once the information is in Amicus Attorney we can use it to generate documents and reports from it (I’ll cover templates in the next weeks)

If you need Amicus Attorney customization please contact us at (415) 284-2221

Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer
Amicus Attorney Certified Consultant
2b1 Inc.

Unlawful Detainer Case Summary Custom Page

Unlawful Detainer Case Summary Custom Page

Unlawful Detainer Tenant Info Custom Page

Unlawful Detainer Tenant Info Custom Page

Unlawful Detainer Billing Custom Page

Unlawful Detainer Billing Custom Page

Amicus Attorney 2013 PE Announced Today

February 21st, 2013

Blog removed per Gavel & Gown request.

Please come back on March 4 for full information on Amicus Premium 2013!

Thank you for your patience.

Amicus Cloud vs Amicus Attorney PE/SFE

November 16th, 2012

Amicus Attorney vs Amicus Cloud

In this blog I will discuss when Amicus Cloud or when Amicus Attorney SFE/PE is more appropriate.

In October Gavel & Gown introduced a new service called Amicus Cloud. Amicus Cloud combines practice management and billing and runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud. Having your practice management in the cloud means that your data is stored in some secure datacenter accessible via a browser. The advantages are that the files’ information and documents are accessible anywhere from different devices: PCs, Macs, tablets and phones. As long as you created a complex password that you don’t share with anyone your information is quite secure. Running your practice management software on the cloud reduces the cost of your IT maintenance. On the cons side we have a few seconds delay to access your files’ information since it needs to send from the datacenter to your device. Furthermore, if you lose Internet connection you are disconnected from your data and you need to wait until Internet is live again.

Who is the ideal candidate for Amicus Cloud?

The ideal situation for Amicus Cloud are firms that have several attorneys working from different locations, but need to share client information and documents. Amicus Cloud is also ideal for attorneys that travel a lot and need to have all their live information accessible at any time but don’t have many resources to maintain the infrastructure that larger firms have. Amicus Cloud cost $35 per account per month if you need the MS Exchange e-mail account (or compatible e-mail account) for full e-mail fusion then add an additional $10 to $15 per user per month or $45 per user per month. Yearly cost per user is $35 x 12 = $420 so a 10 user firm will pay $4200/year

Who benefits from running Amicus Attorney SFE/PE  on their local environment?

The more traditional desktop program Amicus Attorney SFE/PE is better in a conventional firm setup where a group of people are working from one office and they share the clients’ information and documents from a local server. The advantages are that the programs respond faster without major delays. Moreover, these programs have many more advanced features like document assembly, precedents and others that are currently not available to Amicus Cloud. Also the information is local so if the Internet connection goes down the whole firm still has access to the clients’ information. On the other hand the firm needs to maintain the server plus backing up the Amicus Attorney database and document information. Cost of an Amicus Attorney SFE additional license is $399. A 10 user firm will pay $4090 for purchase of these licenses a onetime fee. If we add maintenance for 10 users $1900 per year on the 1st year we get 5990. Add $500 for Timeslips to do billing and we get $6490

Price comparison:

10 users firm 1st year 2nd year 3rd year 4th year 4 years average
Amicus Cloud 4200 4200 4200 4200 4200
Amicus Attorney SFE 6490* 1900 1900 1900 3047
Amicus Attorney PE 9490* 2600 2600 2600 4322

* Includes one license of Timeslips for billing.

As you can see prices can be similar over time. Note that in addition to the price of the Amicus Attorney you will need to add the price of maintaining the server. Note that even if you choose the Amicus Cloud option you will still have to maintain some office network with the Internet access to reach the cloud.

In conclusion there is a market for each version of Amicus Attorney. Amicus Cloud is for firms that are spread over different locations and frequently traveling attorneys. Amicus Attorney SFE and PE have more functionality and are more suited for firms that have their users in one location.

If you would like to discuss your specific situation please contact me 415 284-2221.

Paolo Broggi, Information Technology Engineer and Amicus Attorney Certified Consultant since 1997
2b1 Inc.

MS Outlook Maintenance

August 28th, 2012

2b1 Inc Tips for Outlook. Outlook backup, archiving and maintenance

Most of us are using Outlook for our everyday e-mail, calendaring, and contact management and it is very nice to be able to organize the dozens of clients’ e-mails, the tasks, the appointments and also keeping track of our clients’ contact information. You probably have noticed that as time passes and more information is entered in your Outlook it starts to become slower and sometimes it freezes. In this blog we are going to cover some procedures to perform maintenance on your Outlook in simple language.

First Save Your Data

Normally if you don’t have a mail server like 2b1Mail or MS Exchange chances are that your Outlook is saving your information locally on your PC. It is important to backup that information to the server so if something should happen to your PC you won’t lose all your Outlook information. There is a free program from Microsoft that plugs into Outlook and allows you to backup your Outlook information (which is contained into what is called a PST file) to your server. You can find this little program on Google “pfbackup.exe” and works in Outlook 2007/2003/2002. There are good instructions in how to install and use this program. If you have an e-mail server the information is saved on the server and that needs to be backed up with tools like 2b1backup.

Maintenance / Archiving

As the information in your Outlook grows so are the delays and the freezes of the program. To help minimize these problems we need to remove some of the information we have in Outlook into a separate container. We call this process archiving. There is a function in Outlook that will help in removing older information into an archive folder that can be attached to you current Outlook so you still have access to the older information but it won’t be slowing down you active container (PST file).

We have created instructions in how to archive by year and add the different archives back into Outlook for easy access. There are two guides: one for Outlook 2007 and the second one for Outlook 2010.

Please follow the instructions and that should help in making your Outlook working faster and more reliably.

More Maintenance

In addition to the steps above we need to make sure that we do run the Windows Critical Updates regularly that normally will update also MS Office which contains Outlook. This will close security holes that hackers and virus can use to take control over your computer. Moreover, Microsoft provides a Repair tool that many times repairs small issues with Outlook (and MS Office). This tool can be access from the Program and Features control panel in Windows Vista and 7. Select MS Office and click on the Change button. In the wizard there is an option to “Repair” select that and be prepared to wait about 10 minutes for the process to complete. I suggest running a Windows critical update after that to secure your computer.

I hope that these tips will help you in making your Outlook working better. If you need more assistance, please contact us.

2b1 Inc., Amicus Attorney, Amicus Premium Billing, Timeslips, Worldox, and 2b1Backup Certified Consultants.

Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer
www.2b1inc.com

Starting a New Law Firm – IT Prospective

May 3rd, 2012

Starting a New Law Firm

Opening a new law firm can be exiting and stressful at the same time but there are a few considerations that will save you time while billing all your clients quickly.

Planning – All new firms need to think about the process of:

  • Getting clients,
  • Provide your clients with your services,
  • Track the matter information,
  • Generate and store document,
  • Keep track of time, billing and collection

This is where a good IT consulting firm like 2b1 inc. can make a big difference. There are many network consulting firms but very few know enough about small law firms that can help them to make decisions on what is needed.

Granted that IT firm can’t do much in getting you clients, they can on the other hand help in keeping track of potential leads. There are Contact Relation Management programs that allow new firms to do marketing. Next is time to start providing services to the clients. This is where a case management program comes handy.

A case management program like Amicus Attorney allows your firm to open files/matters of your clients and track all the people involved in the matter (client, opposing party, expert, judge, etc) also what you do on that file by tracking appointments, tasks, phone calls, e-mail, messages, documents and time.

Next we need to post the time to a billing program to generate and send the bills out. Finally you need to keep track of the client that pay with retainers, trust accounts or directly to the invoice with checks or credit cards. Amicus Premium Billing, Timeslips, PCLaw, QuickBooks are some of the regular and good choices.

These days you also need to have a good e-mail system that allows your firm to share the information with your clients and with your mobile devices – phones and tablets. Hosted e-mail services like 2b1Mail will provide an inexpensive alternative to buying a whole e-mail server and maintaining it.

Don’t forget that we will need to securely backup your important data. Onsite and online backup has become accessible. Make sure that you keep your client information private. Many of the consumer backup (as seen on TV…) allow their employees access to yours and your clients document content and therefore you are open to malpractice issues. 2b1Backup will keep you safe from these problems.

After helping new and existing law firms for 16 years we have seen what works and what doesn’t. Let us know if you have questions and we will answer them in additional postings. Feel free to contact us if you have more specific questions or needs.

Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer
www.2b1inc.com

Amicus Attorney on the Cloud

March 29th, 2012
Amicus Attorney Cloud at the ABA Chicago Mach 2012

Amicus Attorney Cloud at the ABA Chicago March 2012

This is a link to the full presentation of Amicus Attorney Cloud from Ron Collins the President of Gavel & Gown on an iPad: http://www.amicusattorney.com/cloud-video.html

Now that it has been announced today, we are free to talk about the new Amicus Attorney Cloud service that we have seen in action at the 2012 Amicus Attorney conference in Toronto on March 22/23.

What is the Amicus Attorney Cloud? Hosed by Microsoft could Azure, Amicus Attorney Cloud is a service that will give most of the Amicus Attorney Small Firm functionality, remove some features like document assembly and adding some more important ones. After looking at several practice management cloud providers, I have noticed a problem with e-mail. Many are using complex ways to save e-mails into their systems. However, Amicus Attorney Could merges your MS Exchange and compatible e-mail accounts into the services. Gavel & Gown call this new approach Email Fusion. All your email is integrated directly in Amicus Cloud and accessible from any device.

Amicus Cloud includes document management system with versioning and save your documents in your section of the cloud. All the information going in and out of your office over the Internet to the cloud is encrypted securing the Attorney Client confidentiality unlike Dorpbox and Google mail. Also included in the Amicus Cloud is the ability to keep track of time and bill your clients. This is similar to Amicus Attorney Premium Edition with Amicus Premium Billing.

What makes the Amicus Attorney Cloud so special compared to the other ones is that Gavel and Gown put a lot of effort in making the user interface and the workflows simple, very easy to use  and now also usable with a touch interface. It is accessible through many different devices including PCs, Macs, iPads and most devices with a browser.

Gavel and Gown has not announce the release date nor the pricing but I expect it to be available for summer or fall and the price should be similar to the other services.

I will post more information as it will be made available.

Paolo Broggi, IT Engineer and Amicus Attorney Certified Consultant
www.2b1inc.com