Special Newsletter Jan 11, 2001
This newsletter has been written to help you make a smooth transition from DOS WCFMS to A1-Law.
First, as you know the CAAA convention will be in Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage next week Thurs Jan 18 - Sun Jan 21. I hope to see you there. I will be in the exhibit room at booth number 38.
If you do not plan on switching from DOS WCFMS, save or ignore this newsletter. If you have already switched and are comfortable in A1-Law, ignore this newsletter. If you are looking to switch or experiencing problems, this newsletter is for you.....
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A1-Law for Windows has been released and already shipped along with WCFMS DOS version 2.9 and the 2.8 bug fix. If you like, you can install A1-Law for windows while still using your DOS program (if you want to "play" with it until you are formally ready to switch over).
How To Upgrade to A1-Law from DOS
Some law offices may not have noticed the extremely important information in the previous paragraph which was also written in the last newsletter. Once again: If you like, you can install A1-Law for windows while still using your DOS program (if you want to "play" with it until you are formally ready to switch over).
This is so very important to understand. A1-Law, although a lot more powerful the DOS program, is a major upgrade. It's the largest upgrade since the first release of our DOS WCFMS program in 1986. For some offices, "jumping in the deep end in the swimming pool" works great. For others who may want to take a more gentle approach to converting, they may want to think about installing A1-Law and running the conversion program, but still use the DOS program for their day to day work. In this way, they can "play" with the program with their DOS information in it until they are more comfortable and ready to formally make the transition. Planning is crucial.
Since you can install A1-Law and play with it, there really should be no hurry to switch. A1-Law really works. Relax, take it easy. Why stress your office? I have found that larger offices tend to do better in converting than smaller offices. This may be because they are more likely to have at least one "technical" person on staff to help them with all their windows related issues as well as computer hardware planning, backups and necessary upgrades.
If you are not sure your hardware is up to date and will support A1-Law, check with your computer consultant. As long as you have plenty of hard disk space, the DOS WCFMS program will not be affected at all. You can continue to use it while in this test / learning phase. Try installing it and playing with it for a while. "Get your feet wet with it." But, just like learning to swim, most don't jump in the deep end. A1-Law is powerful and comprehensive; the manual is over 500 pages.
How to Learn A1-Law
First, I have supplied a Demo CD in the upgrade package. If your computer has speakers and a sound card, you can put the Demo CD in and watch a 14 minute "movie" on the computer about A1-Law and some of its features.
Next, read the first 2 pages in the enclosed pamphlet. They will direct you to two Microsoft Word doc files that can be loaded in either Word or Word Perfect. This will teach you how to create user accounts and passwords for login access.
Next, check with your computer consultant and make sure you have enough hard disk space to install A1-Law. You don't want to install it and run out of disk space so that you can't enter REAL information into your current WCFMS DOS program. You may find you need to upgrade your hard disk space and/or your computers and network.
Next, run the WCFMS Upgrade program to convert the information into A1-Law for learning, testing and playing (while still using the DOS program for your business).
Next, access the Help files in A1-Law by pressing the F1 key to learn more about it. Click on Help, Getting Started. Click on Help, Frequently Asked Questions, Case Management Questions, How Do I Enter in a New Case.
You may decide to look through the 520 page manual supplied on CD in the Adobe Acrobat format. Page one in the pamphlet talks about the manual. More likely though, you will probably want to access the help files but some like a manual.
The most important thing to remember is "don't convert until you are ready." There are other things to consider....A1-Law transfers about 98% of the information in the DOS WCFMS program. Here's what's not transferred. You may need to plan accordingly:
1. WCFMS DOS has an Email system. If you are not using it. Don't worry about this one.
2. Forms - The Application for Adjudication is converted...all of the are. The other forms that can
be saved with Shift-F3 before printing are not. Plan accordingly.
3. Form Letters - They are transferred over but the codes must be changed.
Plan Accordingly. It's possible to design your form letters while in the test/play phase.
Making the Formal Change
Okay, so you have played with it for a while and you have run the conversion program and tested real information in A1-Law and have added test clients as well. Your staff understands how to pull clients, access case activity, extended notes and court forms. You understand how the tasks work. You have played around in the calendar and have printed the calendar. You know the difference between the master calendar and a calendar for a specific case. You have created some sample form letters that automatically merge information from the client card. Maybe you have converted all your form letters from WCFMS and changed the codes so that now they all work in A1-Law. You understand the rolodex and how to attach parties to a case. You understand the first party, the primary, is the client. You understand that you add all the parties and then you proceed to the Extended Application for Adjudication. You know how to copy an Application to a second one and then just change the date of injury, parts of body and manner of occurrence. You know that you can press the F1 key at any window for context sensitive help on that window. You have an A1-Law system administrator who knows how to add users and set up security rights in the Configure Staff Defaults section of the program.
A1-Law functions well in the test / learning phase on your network and your computer consultant gives your hardware a "clean bill of health."
Perhaps you feel your staff is ready.......what's next?
From the above, perhaps you can see just what a major change this is. I have reassured everyone that I still plan to support and continue the DOS updates as well as windows. However, I have also stated that windows is more powerful and you can do more with it and there is clearly a huge demand for a good windows program for workers' compensation.
Next, if you have designed form letters in the test / learning phase, you don't want to lose those letters when you convert the DOS information AGAIN for the second time. You need to convert it again because suppose you have been testing A1-Law for two weeks; you need to convert the information again or you will lose two weeks of information in the DOS LAW program. Also, you will have addition test information and possibly information deleted out of the windows program while in the test phase. The idea is to play with the information in A1-Law while in this test phase. This includes adding information, editing information and deleting information to see how the program works.
Here are the steps for the formal conversion from the test phase:
If you have form letters, you don't want to lose those. So your computer consultant needs to backup the A1LAW\A1RTF folder into a completely different area of the hard drive. This folder contains all of the form letters you have created. We don't want the DOS letters to overwrite the A1-Law form letters you have worked on. We also need to backup two files. They are A1LAW\DATA\LETTERS.DBF and A1LAW\DATA\LETTERS.DBK
These files (without the path name) are LETTERS.DBF and LETTERS.DBK in the A1LAW\DATA
The above is critical because some offices may decide to convert all of the form letters before actually making the formal transition. Some offices may decide that it's okay to convert the form letters after converting if they either don't use form letters in the DOS program or simply don't have that many. You won't be able to print form letters in A1-Law until you learn how to create your letterhead, learn the merge codes and understand how A1-Law processes form letters. The form letter capabilities and modules in A1-Law have been completely redesigned and are far more powerful than the WCFMS DOS system.
Once you have decided how you will plan your form letter conversion, the next step is to DELETE the current folder off the network and REINSTALL the A1LAW shared folders. This will DESTROY everything you have done in A1-Law (not the DOS program. So, once again, if you have created form letters, be sure you have backed up the A1LAW\A1RTF folder as well as the LETTERS.DBF and LETTERS.CDX files in the A1LAW\DATA folder.
You want to remove the A1LAW folder off the server. This may take several minutes depending on the speed of your server. There could be thousands of folders inside of A1LAW, so be patient. If you have dragged the information into your recycle bin, be sure it's cleaned off the server so that the disk space is recovered. The best way to be sure the disk space has been recovered is to have your consultant check the free space on the server BEFORE removing A1-Law and then again after. There should be an absolutely minimum of 100 megabytes recovered and there could be several hundred megabytes of additional space.
Once this has been removed, the next step is to reinstall the shared files by running the SETUPNET program again. You will not need to run SETUPWRK again since that's on the workstations and the workstations know where to look for A1LAW on the network.
Next, you want to reinstall your form letters BACK into the A1RTF folder as well as the LETTERS.DBF and LETTERS.CDX in the SHARED folder. You may also decide to backup the STAFF.* files in the A1LAW\DATA folder before removing it so that you don't have to recreate all of the staff accounts. However, you will need to reenter the basic information in the system folder I.e.: firm name, firm address).
You may find it necessary to take a general class in windows and windows programming if you have never used windows before and want to use A1-Law. This may help. Learn to use the HELP system. This can't be emphasized enough. By simply clicking the F1 key at any screen, you can learn more about that window. For example, if you are in Email and you want to learn more about it, just press the F1 key. If you are in the rolodex and want to learn more, press the F1 key. If you like, you can then click the Print button in help to print out the topic.
Hopefully, this newsletter will help make your transition easier and allow you to practice law in a more efficient and effective manner. Remember, if your computer consultant gives your hardware a "green light," you can install A1-Law and just play around with it until your staff is ready to convert. I can assure you that I have several offices who are becoming more and more proficient with A1-Law and the feedback has been very positive.
Feel free to Email me anytime if you have questions.
I hope to see you in Palm Springs next week.