Getting started for LawLab administrators
This guide was designed for people who want to start a new LawLab instance or anyone who wants more information about setting one up.
As an Account Owner of your LawLab instance, you'll be able to manage subscription types, payment methods, and assign administrative roles and permissions.
Step 1 - Create a LawLab instance.
So, you've decided to create a LawLab instance.
First, visit https://innovationlawlab.org/subscribe/ to create the new LawLab instance. You will need to have:
- the name of your firm, nonprofit, or project
- a shorthand for your business name (this becomes your internet address)
- your email or a master email for the firm
- a credit card
Then, select a subscription type and enter your credit card information. And that's it! Welcome to LawLab! Every subscription comes with a 30-day free trial period.
During the signup process, you will get three emails. You will get a verification email to verify your email address. (Save this email because it will contain your account user name (in case you forget it). You will get a confirmation email to confirm your subscription type. And you will get a login email when your instance is ready for use (this takes about 3-10 minutes). The login email contains a temporary user name and a temporary password to access your LawLab instance. We keep the account portal (with your credit card and subscription information) separate from your LawLab instance (with your client information) -- so you will have to set up a user account on the LawLab instance too. We explain more about that in the next steps.
Step 2 - Add users and assign permissions
To assign the administrator go to the settings and “click” on the “gear” on the top of the dashboard. Users are not limited to attorneys and in fact we recommend that all members of a practice be given a role in the system. Attorneys and paralegals have special roles in LawLab and must be added to a special list.
What will each user’s role be? The distinction of roles will define the actions each person is permitted to do. Some questions you might want to ask yourself as you are deciding on roles include:
- Is this person a paid employee?
- Is this person a volunteer?
- Will this person be expected to enter data?
- Will this person be expected to modify/update data?
- Will you be expecting this person to search for data?
- Will they need full access to information to search or limited search ability?
- Will this person be expected to use the reporting features?
- Do you want this person to have the ability to delete information? The delete permission is final so one should consider this carefully.
A User could have any of these permissions:
- Create: Recommended for all users; allows person to create a new case/file
- Update: Recommended for users that will be modifying existing records, cases and entries. You will want to consider who currently performs those functions in your practice.
- Complete: Recommended to be assigned cautiously as it allows the user to mark a task or event as “completed”. A completed task or event does not appear in reporting.
- Advanced Search: Recommended for users who will be running advanced searches for reports.
- Case Event Delete: Permits a user to delete a case entry at the individual case level. It does not permit a user to delete a case or record. Most permanent employees who have the Create or Update permission should also be assigned the CaseEvent Delete permission.
- Delete: Recommended for very limited users. The best practice is to not give anyone this feature beyond the administrator. If the size of the practice dictates then it may be good practice to assign this role to one additional person.
- an attorney might have the Create, Update, Complete, Advanced Search, CaseEvent Delete permissions.
- an administrative assistant might have the Create, Update, Complete, CaseEvent Delete permissions.
- A volunteer might have the Update permission.
- A legal assistant might have the Create, Update, Complete, CaseEvent Delete permissions.
Assign a permission by selecting the Permission on each User account. You should assign permissions before entering any client information into the system.
Add a new user by selecting the "+".
Assign permissions to each User.
A Limited User has permission related only to a specific case. A Limited User can only see or update specific cases assigned to him or her.
Step 3 - Add Lawyers, Accredited Representatives, and Legal Assistants
LawLab treats attorneys (and accredited representatives) and legal assistants specially so you must also register them on Attorney list after creating the User account. To register an attorney in LawLab, select Edit Attorneys from the Settings menu.
Pro tip: We suggest using a shorthand for referring to attorneys like a set of initials. LawLab uses the attorney code as a way to create reports and display information.
Step 4 - Add Locations
It isn't a paperless world -- yet. So in the meantime, the location of the physical file matters.
In the Location indicate the code you would like to use for the location for the physical file; for example, FLE for File Room, BXO for Box Open. In the location box indicate the code and then describe the code in the description. Click on the green check mark to add the location. Consider all the locations that you will use for both open and closed cases.
Pro tip: You can use the location to track the day to day movement of a physical file from storage to shelves to desk. You can also use the location to track only the overnight location. For example, if the physical file is retrieved in the morning to be worked on and at the end of the day it will be returned to the shelves, then the location could be set to “Shelves” or “File Room”. If the file remains with the lawyer overnight, the location could be set to “Lawyer’s Desk”. This is a flexible list and can be edited at any time. Once a location is in use it cannot be deleted. Instead, you can hide it from the list.
Step 5 - Create Case Types
Setting up Case Types systematically will aid in efficiency, ensure consistency and allow for accurate searching and reporting of data. The Administrator should set up the list of Case Types. Each practice can determine how they will identify each Case Type. The system will assign a short code and require a short description of each Case Type.
Choose and design this in a manner that will best work for your practice.
The more precise you are in creating a Case Type, the more targeted workflows and triggers you will be able to create that will aid in the building of the case file.
Pro Tip: Try creating Case Types by reference to the Immigration & Nationality Act section of law. If you categorize cases this way, you will find that creating a repeatable pattern of actions (a protocol) will be simple and easier to translate into a workflow or trigger.
About workflows: you won't be able to set them up until you've created Case Actions.
Step 6 - Create Case Actions
You can assign a case action to appear in every case type, or if the case action is a specialized action that you take only in a particular type of case or cases, you can limit it to only those case types. This becomes helpful in setting up workflows and triggers.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are the steps you take when you open a case?
- What are the steps you take when you prepare an application?
- What are the actions you take when you prepare for court or an interview?
- What are the actions you take when an application is approved?
- What do you do when you close a case?
- Which case actions are unique to a particular case? For example, are there actions that you take when processing a U-visa that are unique to that case type?
- Which case actions are universal or widely applied to most case types?
(We describe how to use Case Actions to capture data points in the advance guide).
Each time a user logs an entry into a client’s record in LawLab, the user must assign a case action to the entry. That is, the action that the user is performing or will perform. LawLab categorizes all actions into 3 types: a note, a task, or an event.
- A task is an action item that is assigned to a user and will require the user to “complete” it.
- An event is a task that happens at a particular time and date, i.e., an appointment or a hearing or anything that appears on a calendar. It is assigned to a user and will require the user to “complete” it.
- A note is informational and is anything that is not a task or an event. It is not assigned to a user.
The administrator can create an unlimited number of case actions. A case action can be deleted if it is not in use or hidden if it is in use.
Case actions appear in a drop down list. From the drop down list, a user will select the case action type. This section describes how to create the master list of case actions used throughout the system. For an advanced set-up, you can also create a special list of case actions that appear only in the drop down menus for certain case types.
Step 7 - Get to work!
You are ready to use LawLab! You've done everything you need to get started. If you want to take advantage (and we strongly recommend that you do!) of the Active Case Management features of LawLab, check out Step 8.
Step 8 - Create your first simple workflow or trigger
A workflow is a set of pre-defined steps common to a case type that includes the major actions at the beginning, middle, and end. By using workflows, each case is processed in a similar manner. You can add multiple workflow rules for each case type by selecting the “+” in the Workflow Rules box. When you have adding all the workflow rules for the case type select the green check mark. Those workflows will now be available each time that Case Type is used.
Pro tip: Use a generic assignee such as "workflow" for auto-populating entries. You can then reassign the task to the appropriate user (such as the attorney, the legal assistant or the office scheduler). You can designate in the default comment the functional role (for example, Pay IV Fee Bills (LA) means that the "workflow" assignee should be changed to the appropriate Legal Assistant).
A trigger is a set of pre-defined steps that are “triggered” by a case action. By combining workflows and triggers, a case can be efficiently managed from beginning to successful conclusion. We call this Active Case Management. In the example below, a merits hearing is docketed using a HEARING-Merits case action. Once the merits hearing is docketed, LawLab will automatically populate the docket 5 additional tasks.
Here is an example of a generic workflow for a 201(b) I-130 Alien Relative Petition:
- Open case
- Prepare petition, translate documents
- Submit petition
- Track the submission to make certain it is properly received by USCIS
- Check to see if petition receipt was received?
- Has an USCIS Interview been scheduled?
- Was the petition adjudicated?
Weave in triggers at the different spots where a case might take a different path. For example, when the interview is scheduled, a trigger could be added so that a preparation appointment is automatically scheduled or an interpreter is ordered. Likewise, if the petition is approved, a trigger could be added for post-approval steps. If the petition is denied, a trigger could be added to appeal.
You can modify workflows and triggers at any time.
As an admin, LawLab lets you create your own document library so you can make your case actions and workflows even more complete. Lawlab can associate these documents to specific case actions so that they automatically appear every time you use them within a workflow or individually. To start building your system library:
Step 1: Create your document:
- Click on the tool gear and select Edit Documents. Then click on the + sign to add a new document. You will be required to enter a “Title” of the document. The comment section is not required, but it’s useful if you want to add a description of what the document should be used for.
- Once you create a title for your document, click on the green check mark. Your document will be added to the list of existing documents. Once it is listed, you will have several options: View, Edit, Upload, or Delete. Click on Upload and attach or drag your file (or files).
Step 2: Associate your document to a case action.
- Click on the tool gear and select Edit Case Actions. Then add or edit the case action your would like to attach your document to.Select your file from the Automatic Attachment drop-down menu.
You can associate multiple documents to the same case action. By default, the system will associate documents to case actions only during workflows. Uncheck this box if you want your document to automatically appear everytime the case action is used.
You can also edit this option directly in the list of case actions:
Now your case action with automatic document is ready to be used!