A1-Law / WCFMS Newsletter Feb 2001
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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 ďplayĒ with it until you are formally ready to switch over).
Itís June 21-24 at the Monterey Hyatt Hotel. Iíll be exhibiting there as I have for the past 15 years. Hope to see you there.
SoÖ..someone gives you a floppy disk while you are out of the office with a word processing document or maybe you have typed a document in Microsoft Word. Yes, you can attach that right to a client card and then call that document up easily and automatically. Since A1-Law is compatible with Word, Word Perfect and many other word processors, itís nothing more than the click of a button to call up that document.
How to use case activity for tracking and reports. Want to know more.....Read onÖ.
A1-Law continues to receive "rave" reviews and version 4.00 will be even more powerful than the current version. Expected release dates for version 4.00 and WCFMS DOS is June/July 2001. DOS support will continue as it has. Only now, itís even better since I will offer additional support through this newsletter along with my website which is pending. The website is becoming a higher priority.
You may be tired of hearing this but I have to put this in again because three law offices had problems that were brought to my attention so I would like to share their experiences.
First, one office lost all their information (years). They thought their computer consultant was doing a backup and in fact he was not. He was fired, but they have lost everything and have to start over.
Second, one office lost six weeks of information because they stopped doing backup.
Third, one office almost lost information. They were doing backup but they ran the SetUpNet program again from the A1-Law CD which reinstalls everything from scratch. They had not done a backup in a week but fortunately, the information they needed to recover had not been updated and so nothing was lost.
All of these examples continue to reinforce what I continue to stress - you must have a backup. Some offices think their fireproof safe is adequate. They really should have a backup out of the office also. These fireproof safes are only certified up to a specific temperature for a specific time period. That temperature may be in excess of 140 degrees which may not turn papers brown but could destroy magnetic tape media. Also, theft and earthquakes as well as other possible situations are more reasons for at least one scheduled backup out of the office.
A1-Law - Attaching Word Documents
Let's say you have a document in Word on a floppy disk or on your computer somewhere and you want to attach that document to a client card. How do you do it? First, pull the client card and go into the case activity. Naturally, you can set up different case activity categories (i.e.: Telephone Calls, Medical Information, Fees, etc.) You can easily set up a category for Attached Documents or you can just group the document in the appropriate category. Add a case activity note like you normally would. However, when you add the note, don't click the Save button just yet. You will notice there are 4 tabs. The first tab has the normal stuff like the date, the time, who entered the note and the note you want to type. Type in the following note: MICROSOFT WORD TEST DOCUMENT (or something like that).
Now, let's attach a document. Click the OLE tab. Click the Document Type dropdown and select Microsoft Word for the type. Next, right above the dropdown, you will see a copy button. Click the copy button. This opens a windows style directory for you to find a document. Click on the document you want to copy (i.e.: in the MyDocuments folder). A1-Law then automatically attaches that document to that case activity note in the client card. You're done, just click the Save button.
Now, let's say you want to view the document at a later date. Click one time on the note in the case activity and click the document button or just type Alt-V to view the document. A1-Law automatically opens Word and displays the document. You can edit, save and print the document as you normally would.
A1-Law / WCFMS DOS - Case Activity Reports
Case activity can be utilized in so many different ways that we will focus our attention in this newsletter on how we can utilize it for tracking and reports. Both, A1-Law and WCFMS DOS allow you a lot of flexibility in generating reports for case activity. In general, there are two questions we can ask:
1. Which cases have activity for ??????
2. Which cases do not have activity for ????
Question 1 focuses on generating a list of cases that have case activity for a specific time period. For example, maybe you want to know all the DOR's that were filed last month. Maybe you want to know all the case activity that was entered while you were on vacation for the last two weeks. Maybe you want to see all of the cases where the C & R has been approved but not paid yet (tracking fees). All of these reports have the same thing in common - we are looking for case activities that start with specific letters (i.e.: all case activities that start with DOR FILED AT LA).
Question 2 focuses on all cases that do not have an activity in a specific time period. The purpose of this report is to find cases that may be getting "buried" in the cracks. You will see a NoActivity option in both A1-Law and WCFMS. For example, you might ask the following question: "Show me all the OPEN cases that have no case activity in the last 12 weeks." Now, you ask yourself why these cases have had nothing posted to the case notes during this time period so that you don't fall further behind on them.
Now, let's look at how to generate a report with some simple examples. First, let's look at all the case activity for an attorney's open cases in the month of January 2001. In A1-Law, at the main menu, click on Reports, Case Activity Report. Next, enter WC for the type of case, enter OP for the case status (all open cases). Enter the attorney's initials in the Atty Hand, leave it blank for everyone or separate the initials with a comma for more than one attorney. Next, enter 01/01/2001 for the beginning date and 02/01/2001 for the ending date. Case activity is time sensitive so 2/1/2001 is actually 1/31/2001 at midnight. Next, for the event, just leave it blank for all the case activities that fall in the range. If you only want the DOR's that were filed, enter OCF DOR for the event. The case activity must start with OCF DOR for it to match. If you only want to see all the new cases that were entered in the computer, enter Applicant Entered for the event.
You would use the same strategy to track fees. When a fee is outstanding for a case, go to the case activity in a case and enter something like FEE $500 once the fee is paid, you would edit that case activity to PAID FEE $500 Now the case activity note no longer starts with FEE. You can then run a case activity report and enter FEE and A1-Law or WCFMS only pulls all the events that start with FEE which will be the cases that have not been paid as of yet.
Almost all offices use a separate category for tracking fees so that they are not mixed in with phone calls, correspondence, medical information etc.
Once A1-Law has generated the report, it displays it on the screen and you can double click on any title to sort over that column. In fact, almost everywhere in A1-Law when a grid is displayed, you can sort over a column by clicking or double clicking on the title in the grid.
WCFMS DOS Case Activity Reporting: The concepts for running case activity reports in WCFMS DOS are almost identical except that there is not quite as much power and flexibility for generating reports for specific circumstances. In WCMFS, select option 3 for reports, specify the type of case (i.e.: OPEN), enter the attorney you want to run the case activity report for or leave it blank for everyone and enter in the type of case (again, leave it blank for everyone). Next, in WCFMS DOS, select option G for the case activity report. Enter in the case activity category, the starting and ending date and the event to print or leave it blank for all events in that date range. Select F for fast report.
This is merely an overview of the case activity reports in A1-Law and WCFMS. Think of it as a TRACKING REPORT. If there is something you need to track, this may be one of the best ways to do it. The other way to track would be through User Defined Fields - but we will save that for another day.
Next Month - Form Letters
Form Letters are easily one of the most important yet most neglected aspects of any case management system. This is definitely an area that puts most case management systems to the test. You always seem to hear offices saying things like, "it won't put that into the form letter. They said it would merge information but I guess it only merges a few things."
One of the beautiful things about both A1-Law and WCFMS is that any piece of information in the client card can automatically be merged into either a form letter or a court form. This is the difference between cranking out 20 letters a day and 200 letters a day.
The question is: "do you want to have the ability to generate 20 letters a day or 200?" There's so much you can do with form letters and it seems that for most offices, form letters are sort of an "evolving" process." As many of you know from our DOS program, we want to create the letter ONE TIME ONLY. Then, whenever we need to do that letter for a client, A1-Law or WCFMS creates the letter "AutoMagically."
But, what normally happens is this.....Your staff creates a letter and a month goes by and someone says, "Haa, why should I always have to type in the client's name?" So, the letter is revised and we enter a code instead which automatically enters in the client's name.
Next, another month goes by and someone says, "Ha, I don't want to have to type in the case caption for every letter." That's where almost all other case management system literally "fall apart." The reason as you know is because the client could have several employers and we need a quick way to indicate who we are talking about, who we are "serving" and what WCAB No, Claim No, and dates of injuries we want on the letter. Maybe we want all the WCAB numbers or maybe just one. A1-Law and WCFMS handle all of that but, it's just a matter of taking the time to properly set up the letter. The important thing is that it can be done.
Another situation to consider - the "transmittal" letter. Some letters have all these "clauses" in them where some are checked and others are not. Way too much time is wasted with these letters. But, the PARAGRAPH command in both A1-Law and WCFMS handles this situation.
A1-Law automatically saves all letters for a client and you don't need to worry about filenames or where to store the letters. You may decide to do some letters with Microsoft Word or Word Perfect integration and others directly in A1-Law. The choice is yours.
Set up your letters right and you will save your staff a tremendous amount of time.
2. Palm Pilot Integration (June 2001)
3. Microsoft Outlook Integration (June 2001)
Until next time.