A1-Law / WCFMS Case Management Newsletter May 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 - Back to basics.  Compare the same letter in WCFMS with A1-Law.  Tasks. Also, see the March Newsletter for a good tutorial on form letters to get started.
Want to know more.....Read onÖ.

What's New?
First and foremost, our web site is finally here.  I believe you will greatly benefit by reading the newsletters and visiting the discussion forum at www.AppellSoftware.com.  The discussion forum is not only a place to post questions and answers, but also a place where you can gather information and new techniques for using A1-Law or WCFMS in your office.

Creating a Simple Form Letter
We now turn our attention to form letters and compare and contrast WCFMS DOS letters with Windows A1-Law.  We then finish with an identical letter in both WCFMS and A1-Law.  We will use letter 905 in WCFMS.  Letter 905 can be used when a client does not show up for their medical exam.

First, I would like to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the two. 

Advantages of Letters in A1-Law:

bulletYou can use any font you like.
bulletAll letters are automatically saved and easily retrieved.
bulletLetters can be modified before printing them.
bulletForm letter commands are more powerful

Advantages of Letters in WCFMS:

bulletThe only real advantage is that the letters are already done.  In other words, you have to redo the letters in A1-Law.  The conversion program converts the letters so that you don't have to retype the paragraphs but you still have to recode the commands.

Next, we look at an identical letter in both programs and then discuss them.

Here's the WCFMS DOS Version:
\command = postact Y Letter to client, failed medical exam


\command = date

\command = client

\command = caption

\command = salutation

We have been advised that you did not keep the appointment which was scheduled for you with Dr.
\command = input,0: ENTER THE DOCTORS NAME
\" on "
\command = input,0: ENTER THE DATE OF THE APPOINTMENT
\"."

Please contact the doctor's office and arrange a new appointment in order that we may obtain an opinion of a physician of our own choice, which is required if we are going to obtain a maximum recovery for you.

The doctor's telephone number is
\command = input,0: ENTER THE DOCTOR'S PHONE NUMBER
\"."

When you have arranged your new appointment, please indicate the new date and time on the enclosed copy of this letter and return it to our office so that our file may be kept up to date.

If for any reason you are unable to reschedule the appointment for an examination, please contact our office.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Very truly yours,

 

\fletter

 

 

\firmatty2

cc:
\command = input,0:ENTER THE DOCTOR(S) WHO WILL RECEIVE COPIES

Here's The A1-Law Windows Version:
<<command = date>>

<<command = client>>

<<command = caption>>

<<command = salutation>>

We have been advised that you did not keep the appointment which was scheduled for you with Dr. <<command = input,Enter the last name of the doctor>> on <<command = input,Enter the date of the appointment>>.

Please contact the doctor's office and arrange a new appointment in order that we may obtain an opinion of a physician of our own choice, which is required if we are going to obtain a maximum recovery for you.

The doctor's telephone number is <<command = input,Enter the Doctor's Telephone Number>>.

When you have arranged your new appointment, please indicate the new date and time on the enclosed copy of this letter and return it to our office so that our file may be kept up to date.

If for any reason you are unable to reschedule the appointment for an examination, please contact our office.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Very truly yours,

 

<<command = staff,attyh,long>>

cc:
<<command = GetParty,Ask Enter the Doctor(s) who will receive copies>>

Now We Compare the Two:
First, notice at the top that there is no \COMMAND = POSTACT in the form letter in A1-Law?  The automatic posting to case activity is taken care of at the same place where we title the letter.  We can specify the Style to Prompt us for posting additional information if we like as well as the case activity section to post to.

The Header
Next, we see what we call the HEADER of the letter.  This consists of the date, client or party to address the letter to, caption and salutation.  The reason this is important is because those four commands (the date, client, caption and salutation) should go into a separate letter and then merged into all form letters that are addressed to the client.  In this way, if there is a change, we only need to change it in one letter.

For example, maybe the staff decides that they want to center the date rather than have it on the left side.  Or, maybe they decide they want to change the caption and have the claim number or dates of injury included or excluded.  The point is that this header could change in the future and we don't want to have to modify 40 letters.  Also, it's a lot faster when creating a lot of letters to type one command like <<command = merge 1000>> rather than type four commands.  Therefore, it's strongly recommended to use the merge command for at least the letterhead, the Header and the Footer of all letters.

You will probably use one header for letters to clients and a different header for letters to attorneys.  You will also probably decide to use a different header for Spanish letters and finally a different header for other types of letters.  For example, you might use a different header for letters in personal injury as opposed to workers' compensation.

The Body
Next, we notice that the form letter commands in A1-Law no longer need to be preceded with a linefeed as in WCFMS.  This format looks more natural and is easier to read.  We see some INPUT commands which stop and allow the user to "fill in the blanks."  That's what allows us to rapidly create form letters.  However, thought should go into utilizing these commands.  For example, why use this:  <<command = input, Please enter today's date>> when you can use this:  <<command = date>>.

The astute reader will question whether we needed to use an input command at all for the doctor's name and telephone number.  They are right.  It makes more sense to use the GetParty,AskAndSupress which allows the user to select the doctor.  We can then enter the codes to put the doctor's name and telephone number in the proper places in the letter.  The advantage is huge since it's much quicker to print the letter every time we need to for any given case.  The disadvantage occurs only once - and that is when we create the letter.  The commands are a little more complicated.  So, it takes a little longer to create but in the long run we save because there are fewer prompts.  However, I did not want the letter to look too complicated in the above example.  Also, letters can always be modified and improved as your skill and technique becomes more advanced.

The Footer
Again, the footer should probably be stored in a separate form letter and merged.  However, for the simple example above, we have everything "self contained." 

We see a command that automatically puts the attorney handling the case after the Very truly yours.  The command is: <<command = staff,attyh,long>>.  The question is how we know to enter that command?  The answer is to click on the question mark button in the lower right corner when editing form letters.  This button brings up a list of commonly used form letter commands.

Finally, we notice the cc command in A1-Law as follows:

<<command = GetParty,Ask Enter the Doctor(s) who will receive copies>>

However, the GetParty command is far more than a cc.  It can also be used at the top of the letter to address it to anyone on the party sheet.  It can be used in the middle of the letter as well.  Also, you can have it list the name and address or just the name in several different formats.

Printing the Letters:
The problem when printing letters in WCFMS is that if you make a mistake when entering information in the Input command, you have to retype the letter.

In A1-Law, at the Print Letters tab you select the letter you want to print.  You then fill in the information for the Input commands and select the parties to cc.  You can then modify the letter all you want and it does not change the main template.  You then print and save the letter.  You can then recall the letter any time you like.  Obviously, this is a tremendous advantage considering how easy and quick it is to call up a previously saved letter for any case.  You can view or edit them either from the case activity (by clicking on the event and typing Alt-V or clicking the documents button) or at the Saved Letters tab in form letters (by clicking the View button).

Tasks
Some users who have my DOS WCFMS program do not use "the client card," others only use the client card and do not use the calendar.  Two of the most useful features in the program and for some reason one is totally neglected.  Things that some offices could not live without are totally lost and forgotten by others.  I can't see how.

The same is true with tasks but I'm hoping that it's just because A1-Law is still relatively new.  The concept is to "drop" the follow up calendar in favor of tasks.  The calendar can and should still be used for appearances and possibly statutes as well.

Three Ways To View Tasks
First, you can view all your tasks for all cases by clicking the tasks icon on the main menu or by clicking Case-Cal, Tasks.

Second, you can view all the tasks anyone has for a specific case by pulling that case.

Finally, you can view all the tasks you have assigned to others by clicking Delegated Tasks at the main menu or by clicking Case-Cal, Delegated Tasks.

The nice thing about tasks is that when you mark them completed they automatically get posted to case activity.  So, we can now think of tasks as things that need to be done while case activity are things that have already been done.

Also, when you are viewing all your tasks, you can single click on a task and then click the Open Case icon (Alt-O) to pull the case.

Tasks are useful not only for assigning and delegating tasks to others, but also for assigning tasks (reminders) to yourself).

Did you know...
At the client card you can type Alt-1 to view the case activity, Alt-2, Alt-3, etc. access the features on the right side of the client card in A1-Law?


Next Month
Accessing the user defined fields in both A1-Law and WCFMS.  Also, how to insert user defined fields in form letters.


And now for my usual sign-off.......

Until next time, have a great month.