A matter must be created first in order to create time cards, expense cards, invoices, trust transactions, or use the practice management tools available in CosmoLex.
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Add New Matter
Once logged in, click Matters in the left-hand menu. Click Add to create a new matter
Add Matter Screen
The following fields are shown on the ‘Add New Matter’ screen:
- Matter File #: If you have an internal matter number, you can enter it here.
- The system can auto-generate matter numbers in the format you choose. Learn about Matter Auto Numbering.
- Date Opened (Required): Select the date the matter was first accepted. This will default to today’s date, but you can change it by typing here or using the calendar drop down.
- Client (Required): If this client is already in the program, begin typing and choose from the list. If this is a new client, click the Add Client button to add the client name and complete the contact information, then save. If you don’t know the contact info, no worries, just type in the name and save, you can fill in the rest later.
- For more information, please read the Add and Manage Clients, Contacts, and Payees article.
- Matter Name (Required): Here you can type in a unique matter name, or use the drop-down menu to select one. You can manage and customize the Matter Name list under Setup > List Items > Matter tab
- Billing Method: Select Hourly, Fixed Fee or Contingency. Note that if you choose Fixed or Contingency, additional fields will display asking for the fee. If you are not handling billing for this matter, just leave this setting on the default item.
- Not sure what to do? Learn about Billing Methods in CosmoLex
- Matter Owner (Required): Designate which Lawyer is the owner of this matter.
- Haven’t added Matter Owners? Learn how to Add Matter Owners
- Custom Labels – Here you can tag a label to the matter for easy grouping and searching. Perhaps by area of practice/case type. Click add new label and select from current labels, or create a new label
- Matter File #: If you have an internal matter number, you can enter it here.
- Area of Law: Choose an area of law associated with the matter if necessary.
- Trust Bank: If you plan on handling trust money for this matter, select the appropriate trust bank(s) from this list. A matter must be linked to a trust bank in order to enter trust transactions.
- Haven’t added any banks? Learn how to Add and Manage Bank Accounts.
- Active – Once a case is closed (and all funds are disbursed) you can un-check this box to make the matter inactive, essentially archiving it. You will still be able to access this matter by viewing the inactive list on the matter page.
Billing Info Tab
- Apply Rate: Do you bill based on the timekeeper’s rate or the rate of the task? Select your option here.
- Overhead Charges: If you have a percentage fee for overhead charges (like charging 5% of time entries to cover a particular overhead charge for your firm) you can enter it on the matter level here. This will automatically apply it to this matter’s invoices.
- If you have a set percentage for all matters, note that this setting is also applicable on the firm level under Setup > Firm Settings > Financial settings.
- Sub-Account Number: If your bank assigns an individual trust sub-account number to each matter/ledger card, enter it here. It will be useful in your reconciliation reports. Sub-Acct # must be unique. Duplicate Sub-Acct# under the same bank is not allowed. If you selected “separate sub-accounts” when setting up this trust bank, this becomes a required field.
- Rate Level: The default rate level for this matter is based on rate levels entered under timekeepers. You can select level 1-8 which will apply to all timekeepers.
- To learn more about rate levels for Timekeepers, read Add and Manage Timekeepers
- P.O Number: Complete if needed
- Localized Billing Rate: If you would like to charge a unique rate which is different from your default rates, check this box and click RATE. Here you can add a unique rate for each Timekeeper relating to this matter only.
- To learn more about the localized Billing Rate, read Set Up a Matter-Specific Billing Rate
- Min. Retainer Balance Required: If you frequently handle retainers (advances) and have a policy in place for a minimum requirement for all or some of your clients, you can enter the minimum amount required for this matter so that the program can track when they fall below the minimum.
- Customize invoice formats just for this matter: This can be used if you wish to have a unique invoice template for this matter (different from your default template) When this is checked, it will ask which template you wish to use. These templates can be edited under Setup > Firm Settings section > Invoice Templates tab.
- Calculate & Apply Finance Charges: Enables computation of finance charges based on an overdue balance when an invoice is generated.
- Annual Interest Rate: where you set the finance charge percentage.
- Finance Charge Type: Choices are Simple Interest (if you don’t want to calculate past finance charges into new ones) or Compound Interest (if you do wish to calculate past finance charges into new ones).
- Grace Period Set time after Invoice Date creation until finance charges begin to calculate.
- Threshold Finance Charge: The lowest amount of a calculated charge would be applied to an invoice to avoid small finance charges.
- Invoice Address Set Up: If you have attached secondary mailing addresses to a client in their contact card, you can choose which mailing address appears on the invoice.
- Invoice Email Set Up: If you wish to send invoices via email to other parties involved in the Matter, here is where you can add their emails.
Only change these accounts if you need to overwrite your firm’s choices.
- Default Legal Fee Income Chart Of Account: This is the income account in which all fee income paid on this matter is allocated to. This is useful for separating legal fee income by practice area. You would select that designated sub-account here.
- Default Trust Transaction Account:There are two trust accounting general ledger accounts. One is mainly for Settlements which plan to be disbursed (Client Trust Funds) and the other is mainly for funds planning on being earned (Client General Trust Retainer). This will change which account defaults when completing a trust transaction.
This tab will only display if you have eBilling turned on at the firm level (Setup > Firm Settings section > eBilling tab). Not sure about this? Learn how to Set Up and Manage eBilling (LEDES)
- Enable eBilling: check this box if you wish to generate eBills (LEDES98) for this matter.
- Enable UTBMS: This box will automatically check if “Enable eBilling” is checked, as UTBMS codes are required. However, you can use UTBMS codes on their own without eBilling. What that will do, is provide necessary codes to choose from but no option to generate an eBill. Once this box is checked, you can select which codes you wish to use for this matter. While not required, this can simplify your code list.
- Restrict Task Codes: Of the groups that you selected, you can also restrict which codes can be used. If this box is checked, you must move the allowed codes to the allowed column.
Fee Allocation Tab
Within CosmoLex, you can assign commission % to Originating Attorneys, Working Attorneys, Matter Owners and Timekeepers, in order to properly distribute income to various parties. Not sure about this? Learn more about Fee Allocation.
- View Timekeeper Allocation: Here you select what the timekeeper allocation will be. The default % is indicated on the timekeeper level (Setup > Timekeeper > Edit) If you wish to have a different allocation for the matter, choose the “Individualized %” option
- View Matter Parties Allocation: Here you select parties such as Originating Attorney, Responsible Attorney, and Work Attorney. The default % for these parties can be set under Setup > Firm Settings section > Financial Settings tab.
- Class: With our Class Based Accounting tools, you can track income and expenses by Class. If you would like to associate income and expenses from a Matter to a Class, here is where you would link that specific Class to the Matter.
- Notes: These are internal notes for this matter
Tax Status: Choose whether to set the matter as taxable, non-taxable, or Out-of-State.
Localized Tax Rate: Select this if you wish to override the tax rates for this matter. These unique rates will then be used for this matter’s time cards only.
When finished adding your matter, Click Save.
Copying a Matter
If you have similar matters that may occur, use the Copy function to duplicate all the above information and settings for that matter to a new matter.
- Select the appropriate Matter and click Copy
- You can then select the same or different client, and assign the matter name, file number and open date.
- Once saved, you can always edit this matter to make any additional changes.
Note: You can use the same file name for two separate matters under the same client, as long as the file numbers are different.
Editing a Matter
- Select the appropriate Matter and click Edit
- Most information can be edited but keep in mind the associated client name can not be changed. If any billable items have been entered, you will not be able to edit the billing method on the matter.
Deleting a Matter
- Select the appropriate Matter and click Delete
- Matter can be deleted only if there no time/expense cards, invoices, transactions, calendar events or notes entered. Otherwise, Matter can only be closed or made inactive.
Archiving a Matter
- First, make sure that there are no funds being held for the Matter. If the Matter shows a Trust Balance, all funds must be disbursed before you will be allowed to do archive the Matter.
- Additionally, for clients doing Accrual Accounting in the software, any Accounts Receivable/Unpaid Balances must be written off before you can archive the Matter.
- Once ready to archive, select the appropriate Matter and click Edit.
- From the Edit Matter screen, uncheck the box next to Active box under Advanced Settings.
- Click Save.
- The Matter has now been moved from Active to Inactive status.