A1-Law / WCFMS Case Management Newsletter April 2001

As you may already know......

A1-Law applies to the Windows Case Management System
WCFMS applies to the DOS Case Manager System

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CAAA Convention
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.

In This Issue
Form Letters, letterhead, pleading paper and other things.... See the March issue for a good tutorial on form letters to get started.
Want to know more.....Read onÖ.

It appears that the WCAB in Ventura is moving to Oxnard. So, how do we handle this?

A1-Law: In A1-Law, you need to go into the rolodex, click on the binoculars or type Alt-S to search. Click SearchBy Firm, and then type Worker or type WCAB (depending on how you entered in the firm/company). Next, click the View Mode button to make it ViewMode1 so that you can see all the cities for the matches found. Look for Ventura. Double click on it and change it to Oxnard. Be sure when you do this to change the Venue to the Oxnard code.

WCFMS (DOS) - when everyone is out of the program, go into the program in select Option 5 for miscellaneous menu. Then select option 9 for Modify WCAB file. Next, type E to edit and enter in VEN for Ventura. Leave that alone but just change the address. All VEN codes will now use the Oxnard address. Also, type A to add and add a new entry with the Oxnard code and the Oxnard address. So, there will be two entries (one with the Ventura code and one with the Oxnard code but both have the Oxnard WCAB address).

What's New?
First, as you may already know, most offices do not need to pull the physical file with either WCFMS or A1-Law. They can immediately see all the injuries an applicant has right on one screen. Now, it seems A1-Law offers several new benefits to many offices. First, some have told me they don't use their phones anymore. In other words, they no longer need to use their "phone intercom system" to talk to staff. The reason for this is because of the power of the built in "interoffice Email" and "Instant Message" features from within A1-Law. Some offices also like knowing what their clients look like. Many offices are taking advantage of the ability to easily and conveniently store digital photos in A1-Law.

So, the idea is to continue to "move away" from the physical file and continue to share information while keeping on top of each and every case. Surprisingly many offices have still not started using the Task manager. Those that use it could not live without it. It's simple, easy and effective. The new June/July version will have a report that will quickly allow you to view all Open cases that have No Tasks assigned to them. This will continue to assist in keeping the cases moving.

Voice Recognition is becoming more popular. However, let's keep in mind that many letters in comp are standardized and therefore can be produced much faster than typing or talking. However, A1-Law has a great advantage over WCFMS in that one can automatically create a "blank letter" with letterhead, date, client or party, caption, salutation and the closing. Then one can easily type or speak the body of the letter. The letter can then be printed and saved.

Form Letters - Many users are still not aware that A1-Law can easily and automatically store every form letter and court form. You can click on the Saved Letters tab in Forms to view all your saved documents for any given case.

REMOTE ACCESS - Phones - DSL - Cable
This is serious stuff. Many users who convert from DOS to windows see a serious slowdown in the applications over a modem. Unfortunately, this is because windows is graphical. It does not matter what program one uses; DOS is much faster over a modem than windows. However, all hope is not lost. First, DSL or Cable Modem shows superior results when comparing it to a 56K modem. Second, there are no telephone charges using DSL or cable if it's a long distance call. At the present time, A1-Law will work over a phone modem if you simply need to access information on one file. However, for working quickly with several clients, it's impractical. But, I have tested A1-Law with PC-Anywhere and Terminal Server using both DSL and Cable and it works well. I have not tested any other remote programs at this time. I'm also working on a method in the next version so that it's faster (in an attempt to speed it up over regular phone lines).

Can you believe it's already April? Seems like only yesterday when everyone was wondering when the Windows program would be released. I've had a lot of technical support calls lately regarding both WCFMS and A1-Law and I would like to share the content with you. First, it seems that form letters continue to overwhelm the area of questions when users seek out technical support. As I've said before, for the first two weeks it can be a real struggle, especially if you want to create form letters. However, the important thing to remember is that once your form letters are entered, you will save a tremendous amount of time. Some offices seem to have no problem at all and input all their letters in a week. Others seem to struggle with it a little longer. The important thing is to first "know what you want."

I have several solutions to help assist with this:

First - Read the help files and/or the manual.

Second - See the March Newsletter, it provides a good introduction.

Third - Rumor has it that I am working with a few offices in designing their letters and that
there will be a "form library" of sample letters in the June/July release. This is true.
I believe this will be a real benefit for a lot of offices (especially those getting started).

Fourth - Feel free to send me an Email anytime and attach the form letter or question you have. All of your form letters are stored in the A1LAW\A1RTF folder. You can see them in Windows Explorer.

Fifth - Be sure your screen is set to at least 800x600 resolution (otherwise A1-Law will warn you when starting the program). Then when you are in a form letter you will see a button in the lower right corner. It has a question mark on it. If you click it you can then see a lot of form letter commands and you can just double click on the one you want. A1-Law will then insert that command in the letter. For WCFMS (DOS) - you may want to look at the sample letters 900 through 993. 991-993 contains some additional technical information about the commands.

Sixth - Read the bottom of this newsletter. The paragraph contains some of the most important form letter commands. Study them in the help file.

Form Letters and Technical Support
One enormous advantage A1-Law has over many other case management systems is its ability to rapidly create and manage form letters. However, along with this vast topic comes a nice learning curve. There's more than one way to create the same form letter. Remember, the whole concept in both WCFMS and A1-Law is to "fill in the blanks" and out comes the letter. However, there's more than one way to create the same form letter. For example, suppose you want to enter in the client's name and address, the following two commands accomplish the same thing but the first command is much better since the user does not need to enter in anything at all:


<<COMMAND = INPUT2,Enter the Client's Name and Address>>

The example above is rather simple. However, sometimes users are not even aware of ways to save time in form letters. For example, A1-Law does have the capability to do mathematical calculations. In this way, a user could enter in the number of photocopies and A1-Law can automatically print a total cost.

WCFMS---> Similarly in WCFMS we would use the \COMMAND = CLIENT and also the \COMMAND = INPUT,0:Enter the name and address you can then hit the backslash key to drop to the next line.

Both A1-Law and WCFMS allows you to merge any information you want into your form letters. However, A1-Law contains a lot more power for creating and managing form letters than WCFMS.

(Amendment)  As of this writing, you should strongly consider posting your questions to the Discussion Forum so that everyone gets the benefit of learning and responding to your question(s).

It's becoming more and more clear to me that the users who benefit the most from general and complicated questions are those who send me an Email rather than a phone call. I will explain why I believe this is. However, please do feel free to call or Email anytime. The simple questions can be handled either through Email or phone. I don't believe there is a gain with one or the other. By complicated, I don't mean difficult but I mean questions that require a lot of time to explain.

For example, a general and complex question could be something like, "How do I create letterhead?" Trying to explain this over the phone can get quite complex since there is not much detail to work with and the level of word processing knowledge each individual has will vary. A more detailed question might be something like, "How do I change the font for a paragraph?" That question is simple to handle either by phone or Email. However, the concept behind Email support is valuable in that a user can do their best to create letterhead or any form letter and then Email it to me and I can then Email it back to them along with an explanation of how I fixed it for them.

Also, Email has the benefit of being able to "cut" and paste commands in form letters.

Lately, It's all about form letters. At least 70% of the calls regarding A1-Law are about how one can do this or that in a form letter. I know it's frustrating (especially in the beginning), but there's a lot of good news. First, the best news of all is that it can be done. 

Form Letters and Letterhead
Most of the time when users are starting out they want to create letterhead. I recently had a client using the BernHardMod BT Letterhead. I have to say, this font really looks nice. You should check it out. If your letterhead is at all the least bit complicated, you will probably need to create a table. If you have not done this before, you can click on the O for other features and select 3 columns and one row. Click in a column and you will notice a small gray rectangular box in the ruler bar. You can drag this to adjust the size of a box in the table.

The nice thing, is once your letterhead is done, if you change it, it automatically changes for all your form letters.

WCFMS (DOS)- As you may know, we need to use character codes like \CHR(27) + "*p300x600YABC Law Firm" Every 300 corresponds to one inch. So 300x is one inch from the left margin and 600Y is 200 inches down from the top margin. Although it's a little more cryptic, it has the power of being able to put anything, anywhere on a page. This, along with the LINE command allows you to set up pleading paper.

Pleading Paper
The numbered paper......how do we do it? The idea is to have everything automatically merged in the pleading. This includes the applicant, defendant's, WCAB case numbers, etc.

In WCFMS (DOS) you can simply use a merge command. Type in \COMMAND = MERGE 952 or the number that has pleading. Next, enter in the rest of the letter. However, you will need to use the \COMMAND = MARGIN and also the \COMMAND = LINE. This is necessary when separating the columns at the start of the pleading containing the applicant, defendant, and case numbers.

A1-Law - Pleadings: A1-Law contains several ways to accommodate pleadings. First, you can easily create pleading directly with the A1-Law word processor if you plan to insert the pleading numbered paper. If you want A1-Law to print the numbered paper it's probably best to integrate A1-Law with Word. See the step by step example in the help file: Integrating A1-Law with Microsoft Word. If you plan to insert pleading paper, you can create a 2 column table. Next, click in the table and click the O button for other features and click the Table Dialog option. You can then click the top, right and bottom borders in the frame to create lines in the pleading where the Applicant vs. Defendant is contained. You can also insert the code that automatically inserts all the WCAB numbers in the right column. Click on the button with the question mark and look for INJURY and double click on the code to insert all the WCAB numbers on all applications.

Once you have created the top part of the pleading which may include STATE OF CALIFORNIA as well as the Applicant vs. Defendant and the WCAB codes, you can save that and then just use the merge command for all your pleadings so that you don't need to retype it over again. Or, you can right click on the printer in the Edit tab and copy the letter if you want.

Important Form Letter Commands
Without question some commands are used over and over again and again in almost every form letter. These are the ones to study and know well in order to get started. Some of the most important commands for rapidly creating form letters are the following:

The MERGE command. You should use this over and over again and again.
Allows you to rapidly create form letters by building "molds"
or pieces of a puzzle

The INPUT and INPUT2 commands.
Allows you to allow the user to "fill in the blanks" without
them having to move their cursor in a letter searching for
places to edit information.

The GETPARTY command
Allows you to select who you want to send the letter to,
who you want to cc or schedule for an appointment

The INJURY command
Allows you to pull information from the Application for
adjudication. Including the date of injury, WCAB No,
Claim No. This is extremely valuable when creating
your own WCAB custom captions.

The Date command
This command is simple and just inserts today's date.
See the help file for variations like inserting the date in Spanish

Tables - not a command but it allows you to accomplish things in letters that would otherwise be impossible.

Form Commands - New Version
There are many new enhancements to form letter commands in the next version.
Some new form commands in the next version that will be highly useful include:

The GetList command
This command replaces the Paragraph command in A1-Law and WCFMS.
It allows the user to select which clauses they want inserted into the letter.
This is common after a phrase like: Enclosed for Filing Please Find:

The Input4 command
This command will allow the user to input several questions on one
form rather than having several input command all throughout the form letter
The Input4 command also allows for detailed input, dropdowns, combos
and default information.

The Memory,PostActAdd
This command allows for automatic posting to case activity of not only
the letter but also anything a user inputs in one or several input commands

Next Month
More Form Letters, Tasks.

Until next time, have a great month.