CounselPro™ 8 is built on the Software as a Service (SaaS) platform Actionstep. Along with the workflows, letters, documents, and list views provided in CounselPro™8 by the Academy, Actionstep itself offers many features that are often overlooked. In this article we’ll discuss using the Client Portal, Matter Templates, and HotDocs Overlays.
You can provide your clients with a secure portal to collaborate on documents and see matter updates. When you send an email through normal means, it can hop around the world from server to server, each having its own security and storage policies. Actionstep’s Client Portal allows you to set up an encrypted communication and document exchange platform for your client.
From within each matter, you can choose which external parties have access to the Client Portal. By customizing permissions for users, you can control whether your clients can read, create, upload, or delete documents by folder. By limiting permissions to “upload only,” clients and external parties can upload documents to a folder, but not see the contents of that folder. This allows you to have several unrelated parties upload documents to a central folder and still retain confidentiality. This can be particularly helpful for example when you’re working side by side with a Financial Planner or Accountant.
Providing clients with access to the portal gives 24/7/365 access to any files you make available like finalized estate planning documents, their Certificate of Trust, Health Care Power of Attorney, etc. Your client can also provide bank statements and other information to you via the portal which streamlines the asset collection process.
See more information about the Portal here.
Did you know you could pre-populate certain fields when you open a new matter? This saves time and reduces the potential for error when creating a new matter. As an example, if you are opening a New Client matter, you must enter a contact for the Front Desk, Attorney, and Bookkeeper roles. If you always assign the same people to these roles, you can use a Matter Template to pre-populate those fields.
Creating a matter template is easy. Open a new matter as you normally do, change the matter type to Template and save. The template is now useable.
You can also create multiple Matter Templates. For instance, if you have multiple offices, you might have a different template with team Members from each office.
See more information about Matter Templates here.
HotDocs Overlays are used to pre-populate commonly used fields within a matter. As an example, an Overlay could be created for a Revocable Living Trust that sets defaults type to Married Joint, the portfolio options, state of controlling law, etc. When you create a new HotDocs document, you can select the Overlay and those fields will be filled in. You can always change them; they are just defaults.
You can create Overlays for any of the 17 legal document templates provided in CounselPro™8. Contact CP8@aaepa.com to get help with setting up your Overlays.
See more information about HotDocs Overlays here.
Keeping track of your time is essential for matters that are billed on an hourly basis. CounselPro™8 allows for you to record time entries and make those time entries billable, if desired. You have the choice to record your time manually or use the timer feature in CounselPro™8 to capture the time more accurately. You can even use the Mobile App to record your time.
See more information about Time Tracking here.
Microsoft Office Plug-In (Not available for Mac)
The Microsoft Office Plug-In allows Office to communicate directly with Actionstep. This includes saving Emails to Matters, copying attachments to folders inside a matter, saving Word and Excel files directly to a matter, and opening files from within a matter.
See more information about the Microsoft Office Plug-In here.
Mobile App for Android and IOS devices give you access to your CounselPro™ system when you are out of the office or without an Internet connection. You can quickly lookup contact and matter information and create new file notes and time entries.
See more information about the Mobile App here.
We’ll be reviewing some of these underused features and more at the upcoming Summit. Let us know what features you love in the comments below.
Senior Technical Solutions, Training, and Product Manager
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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