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Amicus Cloud New Features: April 2013

Amicus Cloud New FeaturesAmicus Attorney Cloud Edition has recently released another batch of new features. As you may have learned in our previous coverage, firms using the Cloud platform have immediate access to the latest product releases without having to worry about upgrades or their associated costs.  Amicus Cloud’s development team can expand their product without delays or interruption for the end-user and the Amicus Certified Consultants are available for training, customization and further explanation of how these new features work. In this latest series, Amicus has expanded primarily on the Calendaring and Billing modules along with updating the ease of use and functionality.

Calendaring is clearly one of the primary fundamentals of making any law office operate successfully. Firms moving from a paper calendar system to a shared calendar system like Amicus Cloud are going to find a great increase in communication firm-wide, greater control over their daily operations by mapping out their schedule and a confidence that appointments such as court events or client meetings are not being missed. Users will be able to add events to one another’s calendars, view upcoming events with ease and be able to block off time for private or personal time. When shopping around for Cloud products, one of Amicus Cloud’s strongest characteristics is the ease of use and adaptability. Unlike some practice management platforms, Amicus Cloud allows users to set-up personal preferences when it comes to calendaring.

Calendar Reminders

This Preference options was recently released and allows firm members to continue scheduling events the way they always have-you will not be forced to make firm-wide decisions as each person has their own calendar options. The first section on Reminders gives users the ability to set a reminder time and a reminder tone. When adding new events, a reminder check box gives the event Author the option to remind all attendees minutes, hours or days in advance. You can also request a secondary or follow-up reminder to appear.

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While reminders are helpful tools, keep in mind if they prevent anyone at your office from running late or forgetting client related work you’re essentially building client confidence in your work, gaining control of the firm’s scheduling and avoiding penalties for missing court events.

Private Calendar Events

The next section in My Calendar Settings is in regards to availability. As I mentioned before, users can always block off private appointments where other firm members will see they are ‘Unavailable’ without being able to view the actual event details. This availability menu takes that idea one step further by allowing events to be seen by others only when they are assigned to the file. Users can be specific if they would only like the support staff they work with to see their calendar details.

Scheduling & Appointments

Scheduling new appointments is the last setting in the My Calendar menu and one that continues to give users control over their calendars. You can begin by selecting which firm members can schedule appointments for you which could be necessary at a larger firm where attorneys and support staff work on a one to one basis. Users can also select default attendees for new appointments created. This is a huge perk if you schedule for the same person (even yourself) or the same team of firm members whereby instead of selecting their names each time you add an event, Amicus Cloud will know who the default attendees are moving forward.

Streamlined Billing

Billing and accounting, much like calendaring, are one of the primary and essential aspects of any law office. Firms looking to move to a Cloud platform will truly be blown away when looking at Amicus Cloud in regard of its ease of use when adding time, payments, expenses or creating invoices right from a web browser. Not only are firms moving towards the electronic-based style with email communication over letter correspondence or file management systems over paper redwells, but many firms find their clients expect this style with immediate updates on their cases. Amicus Cloud is going to allow you to effortlessly add time, create a bill and email a copy of the invoice in just a couple of clicks.

Amicus Cloud’s developers took the functionality of their desktop Billing platform to the Cloud. Firms could essentially have each firm member adding time, creating bills and updating financials for their cases as they’re working within a file. Firm members creating invoices will rely on the Amicus intuitive nature to verify billing details are accurate. One way Amicus Cloud accomplishes that is by handling fixed fee files accurately so users can create invoices that will include the fixed fee amount along with anything else applied. When working on fixed fee cases or contingency amounts, firms will want to continue to apply expenses or send out invoices to increase regular communication with their clients. Here’s an example file where during the client intake process a fixed fee amount is decided and added to the file’s details tab.

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Next, I can add any additional expenses that accrued and quickly create an invoice reflecting the original service amount. This is especially helpful if your client is opening a multitude of cases and payments are applied to individual files.

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Outstanding invoices can also quickly be finalized and printed for a client or emailed with ease. This is helpful in keeping a file’s communication open even after the case may have closed; verifying a client is aware of a payment due and since you can customize invoice styles if you have a policy for collecting on a debt or a settlement agreement you can tailor your invoice to meet your office’s needs.

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In this example, we can see the ‘No New Charges’ statement applied along with an updated invoice number is applied, date-stamped and auto-saved to the file allowing all firm members access to the invoice history.

New Invoice Styles

Additional invoice styles were created during this new features release including a new pop-up option so individual descriptions can be applied to a Simple Invoice style. This replaces the itemized billing style and allows firms to simplify their invoices to include statements such as ‘Fees for Services Rendered’ or ‘Settlement Agreement’ in lieu of each billing or expense entry. Users also now have the ability to hide or include the hours column letting billing reflect the amount due or fee totals without specific time amounts spent on an activity included.

Email Shortcuts

Anyone new to Amicus Attorney’s product suite will find any of their programs to go above and beyond expectations by supplying a strong intuitive nature. Amicus Cloud keeps the ease of use we saw in Calendaring and Billing and creates shortcuts for users when working within the program. Instead of constantly funneling through the entire firm’s file list when saving a new email, Amicus knows which files you’re assigned to, which ones are active in the system and which ones the email address is already linked to by the contact record.  You will still have access to their entire contact list if needed, but these shortcuts are where firms see large increases in billable hours when moving to the Amicus Cloud platform. No longer are you hunting through your Outlook contacts list attempting to remember your client’s email address by memory or asking around the office. Working in a system where your client’s contact is linked to their file gives Amicus that intuitive ability to complete tasks for you.

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In this example, I started my outgoing email by linking it to the case so when it’s sent a copy will be saved to the file for all firm members to review and when I begin to include a recipient Amicus knows which to include my contacts assigned to that file.

When looking at my inbox of incoming emails, I can also leave some of the work up to Amicus by having the program auto-save my emails to their respective files. You’ll want to make sure your contact is only associated with one case first. Next, I would take an incoming email and select ‘Add to File.’

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This is a valuable tool that will dramatically increase efficiency in your office when you no longer need to link individual emails or forward them onto firm members so they’ll have access to case details. Much like you did with paper correspondence, you’re going to confirm that emails are saved in a shared location within the file.

Offices considering Amicus Attorney Cloud edition for their practice management system can watch an on-demand demonstration here or visit www.amicus-cloud.com for a free trial account.

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Colleen D. Heine assists attorneys and legal professionals in improving workflow and creating efficiencies throughout their firm. She is a Certified Independent Consultant for Time Matters and Amicus Attorney at Accellis Technology Group. Prior to becoming a Software Consultant, she worked for a consumer protection agency and for a national deposition and litigation organization. Colleen has a Bachelor’s of Science from Bowling Green State University.

Colleen Heine
Colleen Heine
As a Senior Software Consultant for Accellis Technology Group, Colleen customizes software solutions for law firms both regionally and nationwide. She enjoys all arenas of consulting including installations, database conversions, training and troubleshooting. Colleen collaborates with firms to create tailor-made customization options, automated workflows and increased efficiencies. Colleen is a certified consultant for Time Matters®, Amicus Attorney® and numerous cloud-based products including Clio and Amicus Cloud. Colleen has a Bachelor’s of Science from Bowling Green State University.

Showing 4 comments

  • Rod Tanner
    Reply

    I found connecting to the Amicus Exchange server beyond my grasp, despite that I consider myself to be fairly computer savvy. Most of the difficulty was that the online instructions for doing so are vague, confusing, and, in at least one case, contradictory.

    An Amicus tech support agent set up the Exchange for me remotely, however it does not function properly. I was at the end of my nine-day trial, and a tech support supervisor told me I would have to subscribe, then they would get it running.

    I subscribed, and opened a support ticket on June 7. It is now June 25 and I have received no response. After about a week I contacted a customer support supervisor who informed me he had spoken to tech support and they would contact me the following business day, at least to let me know when they would be able to address my support ticket. That did not happen.

    I have found that Microsoft and Intuit, likely due their near monopolies, use a customer support model that could be characterized as “sell ‘em the product and let ‘em go to hell.” I submit that Amicus (Gavel and Gown) has adopted that same support model — and is stretching it to the maximum.

    I was in marketing for ,more than 10 years before becoming an attorney. If I were launching a new product such as Amicus Cloud, I would go out of my way to ensure no one had grounds for publishing a comment such as this. Apparently Amicus has different priorities.

  • Accellis Technology Group
    Reply

    Rod, we, too, have been experiencing an uptick in issues related to Amicus Cloud. We’ve found that our earlier projects were being executed with less problems than our more recent ones. We are actually in communication with Amicus about this. Since this is a newer product, we expect some of this, but we are hopeful that it can get straightened out soon!

    • Renu
      Reply

      Was totally stuck until I read this, now back up and rugninn.

  • Gavel & Gown Software
    Reply

    I understand that we spoke with you this morning and that your issue has been sorted out. Our average response time to our Amicus Cloud support line is under 3 minutes, so were surprised by this.
    Thank you for your feedback regarding the online instructions for setting up the Amicus Exchange server. We have done a major overhaul of the setup wizard to make it much easier for our new users to get up and running. We recognized that some information wasn’t clear and we responded to feedback by re-designing the entire wizard to make it easier to run through from start to finish.
    It is also worth noting that as a cloud product we are constantly improving the product and adding new features and functionality. Our most recent update was released on June 19th and included a number of feature enhancement based on suggestions from our users. In fact we’ve averaged an update every month where we’ve added great new features and performance improvements since the product was launched.

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