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How many times have you wished that all of the information about your client could be in one place on your computer rather than multiple locations, such as on the network drive, in a spreadsheet and in Microsoft Outlook? If your answer to this question is “often,” then you should consider purchasing a practice management application. One of the better ones on the market today is AbacusLaw Gold from Abacus Data Systems. The only problem with reviewing practice management applications is that there is never enough time to discuss all the features; however, for law practices this Swiss Army Knife-style approach can be a welcome necessity.
AbacusLaw Gold strives to amalgamate all of the information you would ever need to run a law practice into one manageable interface. The two main modules for AbacusLaw Gold are the practice manager and the accounting manager, which work together seamlessly. The accounting manager is responsible for time tracking, billing, invoicing, bookkeeping, trust accounts and even payroll. The accounting manager pulls information, such as contact data, from the practice manager side. Billable time is tracked and tied to the appropriate matter and client, taking into account any special rates that might be set up for that client.
The accounting manager offers the option to print bills for attorney review before the final versions are sent to the client. You then can modify the bill by adjusting billable time or simply writing off individual items. AbacusLaw Gold also ensures that you keep your client trust account separate from your operating account.
The practice management side of AbacusLaw Gold contains features for contact management, matter management, calendaring, notes and much more in distinct databases that all can be linked for powerful results. For example, when you create a new contact, you can immediately link it to a matter, an event or even a document. Freeform notes enable you to attach additional information to the contact. Even more helpful is the ability to link the names of opposing counsel to your client or particular matter. AbacusLaw Gold lets you easily send an e-mail or create a mailing label from the contacts window, and by clicking “Ctrl+M” you can even map the contact’s address using Google Maps.
When you apply this same linking structure to other areas of the application, you realize the power of AbacusLaw Gold. For example, you can link every relevant document to each matter, putting everything at your fingertips whenever you need it. This functionality shows off the document management capabilities of AbacusLaw Gold — you can easily link Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect documents, PDFs, video, audio or spreadsheet files to matters, and scan in paper documents that need to be linked to a client or matter.
The calendaring options on the practice management side are exceptionally powerful. Outlook is great for one person working alone, but it’s difficult to share calendars with others. AbacusLaw Gold not only gives you functional daily, weekly and monthly calendars for each user, it also allows you to view a staff calendar so you can see when others are available. I found this feature incredibly helpful when I wanted to schedule a meeting with coworkers. Each event also can link to contacts and their matters.
AbacusLaw Gold includes an innovative and helpful date calculator that computes court dates and calendar days and then pastes the results of the calculation into the calendar or document. You also can set several options for reminders and follow-ups, and can synchronize your PDA and laptop with AbacusLaw Gold so that you don’t miss appointments while you are away from the office.
If you need to schedule a follow-up phone call with a client, you can simply create a new event and link it to the name of the client. A reminder will appear on your daily organizer for that day. For new events, you can assign preprogrammed categories, such as Settlement Conference, Notice of Hearing or File for Extension of Time. Multiple reminders can be set to alert you prior to scheduled events so you will never have an excuse for missing your next deadline.
Laptop users can take documents and information along with them so they can work on the road. Additionally, AbacusLaw Gold includes a useful conflict checker that allows you to search by partial names and even “sounds like” terms.
AbacusLaw Gold also has optional add-on special editions for personal injury, estate planning, workers’ compensation and family law. Each special edition includes preconfigured screens, documents, rules and reports for that area of practice.
This is just a mere sampling of what you can do with a practice management application like AbacusLaw Gold. If you own, manage or work at a law firm, AbacusLaw Gold can give you a completely integrated system for your practice while providing the peace of mind that comes with knowing where everything is located.
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