January 2013

Printing Settlement Forms From The Cloud

Cloud is the hot buzzword for computer software lately. Cloud-based software gives users more flexibility by not tying them to specific computers, operating systems or locations. The cloud version of Easy HUD, Easy Soft’s HUD settlement statement software, allows real estate agents and attorneys to access a client’s information and complete the HUD statement from anywhere. However what do you do when the document is finished?

If you are using the desktop-based real estate closing software, of course, you just hit Print and your printer churns out as many copies of the form as you need. You can still do that in the cloud version if you are at your office at the time. And yet the whole point of the cloud version is mobility, so what are your options in the field?

One choice is a portable printer. There are a number of fine printers that communicate with your laptop or table wireless or through Bluetooth. These devices are built to be small and convenient and yet provide high quality documents.

Some public Wi-Fi hotspots offer users printing capabilities, though there may be a charge associated with it. You probably won’t find a printer in a coffee shop but you might find one at your local library. It might be more convenient to print HUD forms at these satellite locations rather than go back to your office.

Finally you always can simply not print the form. Easy HUD allows forms to be “printed” as electronic documents. Save the finished HUD settlement statement form as a PDF or RTF document. You can email that document to a client for their review, or the recipient can print it to be signed. You can even email the document from Easy HUD directly. The software will save it as a PDF and send it to the desired recipient as long as you have provided your email account details.

All of Easy Soft’s cloud-based law practice management software products offer these flexible printing options. Contact us to find out more about how cloud-based software automates your business while freeing you from being chained to your desk.

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Case Management Tools For Easy CIS Preparation

New Jersey family law attorneys don’t just plug a few numbers into a form and mail it off. Firms may handle dozens of divorces at the same time and some of these cases may drag on for months. You need legal practice management software that not only helps you complete the Case Information Statement (NJ) but also helps you manage the information associated with the case. Easy Soft’s CIS software includes several useful tools found on the Case Management tab of the Case Data section.

Discovery Log – The respective counsels in a divorce case will need to exchange documents. It is important to track this information to be sure all important information has been sent and received in a timely fashion. You can verify you have received all relevant documentation before completing the Case Information Statement and can be sure to meet any discovery requests you’ve received from the other attorney. The Discovery Log isn’t just a list of forms and deadlines however. With so many documents being electronic nowadays, you can link the discovery log entry to the actual document making it easy to view as needed. Track both sent and received documents by document type, party name, document name, deadline, receipt date and more.

Calendar – Track your schedule with this easy utility. You can note appointments with clients, other attorneys, court dates or any other scheduled function. In addition to noting the event, date and time you can also specify the priority (Low, Normal or Critical) and whether or not the appointment is billable time. Set up reminders to alert you to upcoming events. Reminders could range from a notification a few minutes before an appointment to a warning of an upcoming tax deadline in a few months.

Tasks – One divorce is a collection of a thousand small tasks. Overlooking even one of these can affect the outcome of the case. Create a to-do list not just for yourself but also for subordinates. Enter the task, due date and priority. Update tasks with status and completion percentages so you can see at a glance how much remains to be done on a specific case.

Case Notes – There is so much more information in a divorce case that what appears on the New Jersey CIS form. Add free-form notes here, tagged with date and priority, to help to manage information associated with a case. These notes are internal and won’t appear on any forms or letters generated by the software.

If you use the cloud version of Easy Soft’s Case Information Statement software you have access to these tools and all the function of the product from anywhere. Download a demo to discover even more time-saving features.

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How Can I Get Attorneys To Keep Accurate Expense Reports?

The legal profession is a mobile one. Attorneys often meet with clients over lunch, at client homes, in conference rooms and, of course, in court. Lawyers accrue billable hours as well as running up expenses such as meals and mileage. Tracking these expenses for accurate billing can be a headache.

Paper receipts and scrawled notes on hours billed are not the best way to handle this. Sure it’s easy for the attorney to dump these documents on some bookkeeper’s desk and forget about them but it takes time to enter them in the firm’s legal billing and accounting software, plus it can be hard to match each expense with the proper case.

Many practices use corporate credit cards to simplify the process. This can make it easier to track expenditures but doesn’t solve the problem of tracking hours or of matching an expense to a case. PDAs and smartphones let attorneys create an electronic record but there is still the problem of transferring the information to the attorney time and billing software.

Now there is a solution that eases the burden on the attorney, the bookkeeper and the firm in general: cloud-based billing software for lawyers.

Attorneys can log into the legal time billing software from an iPad or other tablet computer. This allows them to do more than just scribble a note or enter a value. Lawyers can enter expenses and billable hours directly into the software, even using the built-in timer to clock their hours easily. Since the attorney is entering the expense directly there is less chance of a data entry error, and the expense can immediately be referenced to the proper matter.

Cloud-based software isn’t just for entering data. Lawyers have full access to case information from anywhere, giving them an edge over attorneys saddled without outdated software or handwritten notes. In law, information is power and the attorney with better access is more likely to receive a favorable decision for a client.

Today’s attorney isn’t locked in an office, handcuffed to a heavy desktop computer. Contact Easy Soft to find out about how our line of cloud-based law practice management software automates your practice and frees your attorneys to serve clients more effectively.

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CISLite Lets The Client Do The Work

The initial client interview is, of course, an important step in preparing a divorce case in New Jersey. Attorneys need to gather a great deal of information not only to handle the case successfully but also to complete the needed state forms, specifically the Case Information Statement (NJ).

Nowadays traditional interview method is, to be blunt, a waste of the attorney’s time. The lawyer serves as little more than a stenographer, copying down what the client says or entering information from financial statements onto the NJ CIS form. Some of the routine tasks might be turned over to a paralegal but even then you have a skilled worker who’s doing nothing but data entry. Wouldn’t it be great if the client could enter the information directly?

“What?” you exclaim in horror. “You want me to give the client access to my Case Information Statement software?” Yes, but only in a very controlled fashion by means of a tool called CISlite.

CISlite is a Microsoft Word document a lawyer can email to the client. The client fills out the form, providing everything from the full names of the spouses and children in the divorce to detailed financial information. The client then emails the completed form back and the attorney imports the information into the software, which in turn populates the New Jersey CIS form.

The client performs a sort of self-interview. The case information ends up in the attorney’s files without giving the client direct access to the software. Practice employees can use their time more effectively and it keeps the client busy with a useful task. This doesn’t eliminate the need for a client interview but it does shorten and simplify the process.

CISlite is a valuable tool when used with the desktop version of the legal office software, but it really shines in partnership with the cloud version. Attorneys can send and receive the form, and then import the data into the case file without needing to be chained to an office. Family law attorneys have the flexibility to meet with clients, judges and opposing attorneys anywhere and still have full access to the tools needed to provide counseling to couples divorcing in New Jersey.

Bring your practice to a new level of efficiency by using modern digital tools designed specifically for the needs of the legal profession.

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Breaking Down The Net Worth Statement

Complete and correct financial information is essential to a divorce case. The NY statement of net worth is the key document used in divorces in that state. Unfortunately this form is long and tedious and both attorneys and clients dread completing it. The secret is to take it a section at a time so it’s not so overwhelming.

EzSupport-NY devotes an entire subset of the interface to the New York net worth statement. First click on the “Case Info” button and enter all of the identifying information regarding the case. Information entered here will be pulled into the net worth statement automatically, so completing “Case Info” first eliminates the need to enter things twice. After completing the case information, click on the “Financials” button to bring up the seven-part net worth form.

Most of the fields on the “Basic Info” tab will have been automatically copied over from the “Case Info” page. Look it over to be sure it is correct and fill in any incomplete fields. Enter expenses on the two “Expense” tabs. Values must be entered on the form as monthly amounts to fit the New York spousal maintenance formula but often clients will provide weekly or yearly totals instead. Use the “Calc” button to enter these values and the software will automatically convert them to monthly amounts.

The “Gross Income” tab contains all sources of income including wages & salaries, dividends, alimony from prior marriages. The “Assets” and “Debts” tabs are where you will find areas to list various securities and liabilities each party possesses either jointly or individually. Finally the “Statements” tab list additional information such as counsel fees or New York State spousal support from previous relationships.

Completing the net worth form with a tool such as EzSupport-NY is easier and more accurate than trying to do it by hand, and now it’s easier still! The cloud versions of our attorney practice management software allow lawyers to take their digital tools with them to the courthouse, a client’s home, a conference room or anywhere else. Add, change or access client case information whenever and wherever you need to.

Download a demo of EzSupport-NY today and find out just how simple the net worth statement can be.

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The Trip To The Cloud Doesn’t Have To Be Scary

We have loyal Easy TimeBill customers who’ve been with Easy Soft for many years. They’ve used our attorney time and billing software from version to version. Nowadays when it’s time to upgrade the software or renew a license they can choose to continue using the desktop version or to convert to the cloud version, but some are hesitant to move away from the traditional desktop software. We can assure you the transition to cloud software is easy.

We’ve posted about security before but it bears repeating: the cloud version of our legal practice billing software is as safe as or even safer than the desktop version. Data security is important in any industry but nowhere as much as in legal practice. Sensitive client files are stored in state-of-the-art datacenters protected against unauthorized intrusion by the latest data security technologies.

However sometimes resistance to change isn’t due to big things like security. It’s due to little things like familiarity. Attorneys who have used the same law office software for years don’t want to change to something new. They know how to use it. They know where all the buttons are, what all the menu options do, which data field is which. Learning new software takes time and increase the chance of making errors.

That isn’t a concern when converting to our cloud software. Put the desktop and cloud versions of Easy Soft legal billing and accounting software side by side and they look identical. The differences are inside, “under the hood” so to speak. A firm could switch the entire office over to the cloud version without telling people and odds are nobody would even realize there had been a change. The only real difference is the computer need to have an internet connection to use the cloud version but what computer doesn’t?

Not only is switching over seamless but it’s actually even easier than running the desktop version. We ensure the software is always up to date so our cloud customers don’t have to worry about downloading and installing new versions. Since attorneys can use the cloud version from tablets as well as desktops, they are no longer chained to their desks or even their laptops. That flexibility is important in today’s fast-paced world.

Some people prefer desktop time and billing software and that’s fine with us. We maintain and support both versions to give our customers choice. However, if you’re ready to try something new, then contact Easy Soft at 800-905-7638 to start your trip into the clouds.

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