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Starting a New Law Firm – IT Prospective

Thursday, 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

Maximize Amicus Attorney PE and Amicus Attorney SFE use.

Friday, March 26th, 2010

In this blog entry I am going to discuss how Amicus Attorney was intended to be used.

Many of my clients are using Amicus Attorney as a contact manager, a calendar and a way to enter time. However Amicus Attorney can do much more than these basic functions. It can stream line processes so that only in a few minutes you can create new files, check for conflict, enter several events on the calendar and even print a retainer in one swoop.

Amicus Attorney Custom Fields

Amicus Attorney Custom Fields

Step 1.  Most law offices have already intake forms for new clients. We need to look at these intake forms to get an inspiration for the additional information that we need to track beside name and address, e.g. Retainer Amount, County, Separation Date, Date of Death, Court Name and Case Number and so on. This type of information can be easily entered in Amicus Attorney Custom FieldsAmicus Attorney SFE allows for 50 custom fields for file type e.g. Criminal, Family Law, Probate etc. Amicus Attorney PE is more flexible and allows us to enter an unlimited amount of custom fields and give us control over the layout.

Amicus Attorney Template Selection Window

Amicus Attorney Template Selection Window

Step 2. Once we have the custom field in place the next step is to use them to generate Amicus Attorney templates. Here by using Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect we can create retainers, letterheads, fax cover pages, proof of services, pleading headers, medical record requests letters and many more. A template is a document that has place holders for the information that will be coming from the Amicus Attorney database.  For example the name and address can come from the client’s information in the Amicus Attorney’s contact card and the retainer amount from the Retainer custom field we created earlier.

Amicus Attorney Precedents

Amicus Attorney Precedents

Amicus Attorney Saving Precedent Window

Amicus Attorney Saving Precedent Window

Step 3. Now that we have our templates in place we can move on to the next step and create a set of linked To Dos and Appointments called Precedents. Let’s say that when we have a new client we want to 1. Check for conflict, 2. Prepare a retainer, 3. Follow up if the retainer was returned, 4. Look if retainer payment was receives. 5 Send an acknowledgment to the client, 6. Call the client to setup a meeting to discuss the details of the case. With a “New Client” Precedent we can link all these events (appointments and to dos) and in some of these events we can attach a DO button that will have the event create a retainer letter and another one to track a phone call.

Amicus Attorney Intake Form Creation

Amicus Attorney Intake Form Creation

Amicus Attorney Intake Action Items

Amicus Attorney Intake Action Items

Step 4 . We are at the last step. Here we put it all together with an Amicus Attorney intake form. These forms (one form for each file type) allow us to quickly create a new file and we will be prompted to enter information in the custom fields. Then they can start automatic conflict check, add the “New Client” precedent that will put all 6 events on the calendar. Then it can even generate a retainer letter and finally send out an e-mail to the people involved with a confirmation that the file has been open.

By thinking about what other repetitive tasks you are doing and taking advantage of these custom fields, Amicus Attorney templates and Precedent you can stream line many annoying tasks so that you can focus on practicing law.

If you have specific needs please contact us we will be happy to discuss in details how Amicus Attorney Small Firm Edition and Amicus Attorney Premium Edition can be customized for you.

Paolo Broggi,
IT Engineer and Amicus Certified Consultant since 1997
Check out our 2b1mail and 2b1backup services

Amicus Attorney 2010 PE and SFE New Calendar Features

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Amicus Attorneu 2010 PE

Amicus Attorney 2010 PE

Amicus Attorney 2010 PE and Amicus Attorney 2010 SFE New Calendar Features

On January 2010 Gave and Gown Software has released a new version of its flagship practice management software Amicus Attorney 2010.

In this new incarnation Amicus Attorney 2010 Premium Edition and Amicus Attorney Small Firm Edition adds some very nice features. The most visible one is in the Calendar module where now we can color code categories of events. For example we can have all court categories in read, all new clients meeting in green and regular client work in gray. By using colors the events stand out visually continuing on the ease of use and friendliness interface that Amicus Attorney built its reputation on.

Amicus Attorney 2010 PE Calendar

Sating in the Calendar module Amicus Attorney 2010 PE and SFE now have Adjournments. This allows a user by checking a box in the appointment Event Detail window to keep track of any changes made to that event. If I move the appointment, a window pops up and asks to give a reason for the change before I can modify the event. Then after I move the event, a copy of that event stays on its original place but grayed out to leave a trace of the history of the changes. I can click on Details button in the Event Details window to see the list of the reasons of the changes.

Amicus Attorney 2010 Adjournment

To Dos also have been improved by having Progressive Priority Levels. This new feature allows a To Do with the progressive priority level turned on to change its priority level as it get closer to the deadline. For example I can create a To Do to file an answer and set my deadline then I can check the Progressive Priority check box and from the pull down menu select “20, 10 and 5” (if my deadline is 30 days from today) this will change the average priority to go to “High” 10 days before the deadline and to “Top” 5 days before it automatically!

Amicus Attorney 2010 PE Progressive Priority Level

An additional feature in Amicus Attorney PE will allow the calendar of a user to be shared completely with an assistant/paralegal so that even private events (events that don’t have a files associated) will be visible to the people selected. This is a big  improvements on small offices where the assistant needs to log into the attorney office to see all appointments (because the attorney forgot to select the file…) Now is not a problem, the assistant can quickly open that event and fix it without the need of switching to the attorney office. This feature is enabled in the Office>>Preferences>>Calendar – Other on the attorney PC. In the middle section you can click on the blue head and pick the name of the assistant(s).

Amicus Attoeny 2010 PE Share Calendar

Amicus Attorney 2010 PE Share Calendar

This is all for today. As I get some more time I will cover more new features. I do want to tell you that I had a chance of installing over a dozen of upgrades of Amicus Attorney 2010 PE and Amicus Attorney 2010 SFE. Upgrade time for the server for 2010 PE is about 4 hours since we need to upgrade also MS SQL 2005 to 2008. Amicus Attorney 2010 SFE is a much easier upgrade and the time depends on the size of the database (normally about an hour on the server for most small offices).

If you have a need to upgrade your Amicus Attorney please let me know and I’ll be happy to help you out with it. We now have a great tool do remote installations and trainings over the Internet. Contact us

Thank you.

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