electronic office document management
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Chapter: Databases

Matter database

This is the main database of Legal Notes, in which all documents are stored.

It is fundamental to the integrity of this database that you define your file types and classes of documents with care.

Whilst there is some discretion with File Types (Correspondence, Court Documents etc), there should be no discretion with the class of a document. Define them carefully.

If there is a sloppy approach to the class, little value will be obtained from looking at documents by class. In this regard an important issue is defining recipients of documents. For example, you send a letter to Allens Arthur Robinson. Let us say you decide to call this firm "Allens". It is important that everyone calls the firm by the same name, otherwise you will end up with two or three classes for the same firm. The user must be trained to check. Every time you send a letter or email to a recipient, you are prompted to save the details of the recipient. If accepted a matter library is created for the recipient under the name or label specified. This label is then arrayed for use in the next letter or email you send to that recipient.

The principle is that there should only ever be one record for a given piece of information that can be easily accessed in the different scenarios in which must be accessed. In relation to addresses, and matter libraries, the information is accessed via the Addresses view.

The basic structure is to classify documents by matter number then by File Type. They can be maniputed in any way you wish within the limitation of the available fields. They include

Sender (for incoming documents. You are always the sender for outgoing documents)
Class (affidavit, letter,email, Pleading, etc). You create your own classes
Date of document
Date served
Date Received
Author (Lawyer)
Filed by (ie created)

You can view documents for a given matter by the date of the document. You can view all documents in a database by matter. Often you will create a database for a client with related matters. The option of viewing all documents in chronological order can by useful.

You can select any number of documents and email the attachments with a few clicks. Alternatively you can send attachments and emails to an open (unprotected) database and email url links to those documents to clients or third parties as the need arises. The second option is useful when the size of the document (or video file) exceeds the limit of most email servers (usually around 10mb).

The two screen shots below list the current actions available in a matter database. The first shows the sub category "Tools, and the second "Utilities".

First consider the primary actions:

View document. There is also a button for this option. It opens the attachment in the documents selected by you in the main view. Usually there is only one, but you can open any number of selected documents with two keystrokes.

Addresses. This take you to the Addresses view which contains all client and matter library records. An important view!

Email document. This option will extract attachments to the selected documents and put them in an email. Another powerful tool.

Find Matter: If you do not know the matter number, you can find it by reference to the name of the client using this option. One of the two ways of getting to a matter.

Go to Matter: This is the other way to go to the documents for matter; when you know the number.

Tools menu:
      • Categorise a document: Use this option to categorise a number of documents at a time. You could go into each document and enter a category manually. This option speeds up the process
      • Move to another Matter: An important adminstrative tool to correct error or to move a document to a more appropriate matter.
      • Copy to another Matter: Copies the selected documents to another matter
      • Copy to another Database: Copies selected documents to another database with the same matter
      • Rename attachment: For incoming documents only
      • Replace attachment: For incoming documents only. If you amend a pdf file for example, you can update the changes using this option PROVIDED you open the pdf using the agent/button in the database to open the pdf.
      • Change description in the to/From field: This option arises from the importance of ensuring there is only one name or label for each recipient/sender of a document.
      • Change File Type: Use this option to change the file type for multiple documents
      • Publish to FTP: This is the option mentioned above whereby you can transfer attachments and emails to an unprotected database and email the urls to a third party.
      • Change Readers: This option can only be run by a specified manager. It changes the people who can see and access a given document.
      • Get Document (by document number and UNID number). The document number is a database specific number and appears in the reference of every document generated by Legal Notes. the UNID is a system wide number. You can search either number to find a given document.
      • Open Backup: Every time you close an outgoing (Word) document that has been saved, a copy is placed in a database called docbacku.nsf or Document backup. On rare occasions an attachment in a Notes container is corrupted. This backup enables you to easily recover the last saved version of the document. If there is a corruption our invariable experience is that it happens whilst the document is in progress. Of course if a document is finalised and never checked again, no one would know. All that can be said is that this has never happened to us in the 26 years the programme has been in use.
      • Insert document in Word: A quick way of inserting the contents of the attachment in a notes container into Word.

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