Pathagoras Help System

VA CLE

VA CLE

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VA CLE

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(This message is intended for Subscribers joining us via Virginia CLEtm)

   The forms on this CD-ROM or Ebook have been “optimized” for use with a document assembly system called Pathagoras™. Using Pathagoras is purely optional on your part. If you choose to try the document assembly and automation features that Pathagoras can bring to your office operations, continue reading. Each of the below concepts is discussed in greater detail in other portions of this Help Guide, but a brief synopsis is provided below especially for our Virginia CLE clients.

Preliminary Questions and Answers
Installation
Use
Instant Database
GotForms?
DropDown Lists
A word about [bracketed variables] vs. underscore variables
Additional Notes

What is Pathagoras?

   Pathagoras™ is a ‘plain-text based’ document assembly program.  ‘Plain-text” refers to the structure of the variables and optional text contained within a form. A ‘plain-text’ variable or optional text block is one that uses only standard keyboard-entered text. Variables (place holders for personal data) in this manual are words or phrases enclosed within square brackets. [This is a variable]. Optional text (“keep it or delete it” text) is set out between {curly braces}.

   Some variables contained in the forms in earlier versions of this Manual met this ‘plain-text’ definition, but they were not optimized for Pathagoras

What does ‘optimized for Pathagoras’ mean?

   The forms have been modified to offer the maximum benefit for the automation operations offered by Pathagoras. The information at this link lists what specific changes have been made from earlier versions of this Manual.

   ‘Optimized for Pathagoras,’ however, does not mean that the forms work only if Pathagoras has been installed. It just means that if you choose to use Pathagoras as a document automation/assembly solution, the forms are configured to run to speed up your document production.

   Pathagoras will help you to select the best form, to identify and replace variables and to identify and select whether the designated optional text blocks should be kept or discarded. (Without Pathagoras, you can manually make these selections in the same fashion you did with earlier versions of this manual.).

   ‘Optimized’ also anticipates future improvements. With this new approach to document assembly, and taking advantage of electronic media and the Internet, updates to the forms can be easily made and distributed. As better automation approaches are written (or if ‘logic errors’ are found by users such as yourself), amendments can be made and quickly sent to registered users. (We affirmatively ask that you let us know of any improvements to forms you wish to offer, or of any bugs you find. We will pass them on to the appropriate activity.)

Am I obligated to install Pathagoras in order to use the updated forms?

   No. The forms in this packet are as ‘usable’ without Pathagoras as with it. No coding or fields have been introduced which might prevent the use of any form. If you would prefer not to use Pathagoras, simply don’t install it.

Am I obligated to purchase Pathagoras if I install it?

   Not at all. The trial is provided free for 90 days. We encourage you to try it to see if it meets your needs and expectations. If you decide that you do not wish to continue using Pathagoras, simply uninstall it.

How do I install Pathagoras to test it out?

   Instructions on how to install Pathagoras follow this Question and Answer section under the section entitled “Getting Started.”

Can I uninstall Pathagoras if I try it and later decide not to use it?

   Yes. Quite easily. From the Control Panel, select Add/Remove programs. Locate and select the Pathagoras entry. Click “Remove.”

Does Pathagoras work only with VA CLE material?

   No. Quite the contrary. Pathagoras automates any document where variables are denoted by [brackets]. This is so regardless of the source of the document. Many publishers of legal forms have adopted the bracketed variable as a means of identifying replaceable variables. Further, as discussed below you can easily create your own forms and libraries using your existing documents.

   Pathagoras is a very dynamic system. Because of its simple plain-text nature, you can modify the forms, add new ones and easily manipulate the operations to suit your needs. Indeed, we hope that you will personalize the forms to your specific practice, add your own text, and add new documents and forms to the existing books and add new books to your libraries. After a short while, you will find that you have created for yourself a true, office-wide, document assembly system.

Getting Started

Step 1: Copy the forms from the CD to a folder of your choice on your computer. We suggest “C:\VA CLE Forms\” as an appropriate folder, but you can place them anywhere you desire.

Step 2: Install the 90-day trial version of Pathagoras:

1.Double-click the Pathagoras icon on the CD that accompanied the written materials. The installation of Pathagoras will start immediately. You should accept the default choices.
2.After you install Pathagoras, restart Word. You will see a ‘Success!’ screen and a new 4 element toolbar on your Word screen. Other than starting Word, there is nothing else that you need to load for future word processing sessions. It is operational whenever you are in Word, and closes when you exit Word.

Step 3: “Shelving” your first book.

   Pathagoras has adopted a ‘library’ and ‘books’ metaphor to describe the manner in which it organizes documents and forms. We propose that all forms from VACLE materials be stored in the VACLE library that was created when you installed the demo version of Pathagoras. The library is initially empty. You will need to place the first book onto the first shelf before getting started. This will take only about 30 seconds to accomplish. It is all point and click. Here are the steps:

1.Click the Document Assembly button (the third one from the left, depicting two documents merging into one):
 

dasettingstb

 

This is what you should see:

Click to enlarge.

Figure 1. Initial Document Assembly Screen

 

2.Make sure that the VACLE library is the ‘Current Library.’ The current library is the one that is displaying in the dropdown list at the right side of the screen. If you do not see VACLE in the box, drop down the list and select it.
3.Click an empty bookshelf at the left side of the screen. Figure 2. If this is the first time you have performed this, all shelves will be blank.

Click to expand.

Figure 2. When an empty 'shelf' is clicked, you can 'Quick Set' a new book assignment.

 

4.Click the Quick Set button that displays toward the right side of the screen.
5.Navigate to the folder that contains the VA CLE forms you copied to your C:\ drive. Select one item (it doesn’t matter which one, see Figure 3) and then click OK.

Click to enlarge.

Figure 3. Navigate to the folder which contains the documents.
Select any document in the folder. Then press OK.

 

6.You will next be asked to provide a name for the book. Any name you choose is fine. It should reflect the nature of the book. For the example, we are placing  “Debt Collection” forms onto the bookshelf. Therefore, we chose the name “Debt Collection.” Press the remaining “OK” buttons. The book is now ‘shelved’ in the VA CLE library. Pathagoras will display a “Success” screen reflecting that fact.
7.You can add other VA CLE forms to your library by repeating the above steps.

Using the Forms: Assemble a Document

   After you have shelved a book in the library, you are ready to create your first document. These are the simple steps.

1.Click the Document Assembly icon from the Pathagoras toolbar:

dasettingstb    

The Document Assembly (Libraries and Books) Screen appears again, but this time it shows the name(s) of the book(s) you shelved in previous steps.

Click to enlarge.

Figure 4. Select the 'book'  that contains the forms you wish to assemble. Press <Next>.

2.Click the book from which you wish to select a form and then press Next>>. The Clause Selection Screen appears. Figure 5. The left panel of the Clause Selection Screen will display all of the terms in the selected book. (i.e., all of the forms in the folder to which the book is pointing.) The right panel will be empty.
3.Select one or more clauses from the left panel and Add them to the right. Press the Next button when you are ready to proceed.

Click to enlarge

Figure 5.  Select one, several or all of the clauses you wish to assemble.  Press <Next>.

If you have your Table of Contents in front of you, it is easy to determine which clause to use, and the ‘Names’ display will suffice. However, you may prefer the ‘Subjects’ display. (To display the subject assigned to each form, simply click the Subjects option button at the right side of the display.)

Click to enlarge.

Figure 6. The same book as above, but with ‘Subjects’ now showing.

 

   Each of the selected clauses will be assembled into a new document, and it will quickly appear on your editing screen.

redarrowNote: You will always be working on a copy of the forms, never the original. This is to protect the integrity of the form. The document on the screen looks just like the original, and has all of variables from the source text ready to be replaced with client specific values.

Replacing the variables

   If the document you assembled contains variables as placeholders for personal information (and most documents will), you will want to replace the variables with personal/client data. These are the two ways to do so with Pathagoras.

Method 1 – Instant Database

   Press the key combination <Alt-D> (for ‘d’atabase). This will display the Instant Database screen. Figure 7.  The Instant Database screen is so named because, as you will soon learn, you can preserve the variable-to-client-data assignments you will make to an easy to use, ‘instant’, database.

   If the screen is empty, press the green <Scan> button at the lower right side of the screen. This will direct Pathagoras to scan the entire document and to place all bracketed variables it finds into the left column. If Pathagoras detects a multiple choice variable, the list of choices is placed in dropdown lists at the right, with the first option selected by default. Otherwise, the right column will be blank.

   In the right side of the IDB form, type the appropriate text (or choose an appropriate option from multiple choice lists) which you wish to replace the variable at the left. Press the Next>> button and the replacements will automatically be made.

 

Click to enlarge.

Figure 7.  The Instant Database Screen. Type the replacement values at the right. click Next>>.

 

redarrowNote: When the variables in the document are exclusively or primarily [bracketed], the Instant Database method discussed above is the preferable tool. When the variables are primarily underscore characters for which you wish to substitute client specific values, you may consider the GotForms? <Alt-S> routine described under Method 2 below.

Method 2 – GotForms?

   When the form contains many variables designated with underscore characters (e.g., “___________”), Pathagoras provides another handy tool for identifying and replacing these variables. Press the key combination <Alt-S> and Pathagoras will take you from variable to variable, pausing at each to let you fill out the value. You can used GotForms? in lieu of the Instant Database or in conjunction with it. GotForms? will identify both brackets and underscore variables. Its limitation is that the variable-to-client-data is not saved.

redarrowNote: If the document variables are ‘mixed’ (i.e., contain both bracketed and underscore variables), and you want to save whatever data you can, or recall previously saved data for an existing client to replace whatever variables you can, run the IDB routine first. Then run GotForms?)

DropDown Lists:

   You can save several steps in selecting an appropriate VA CLE form by creating a DropDown List of all of the forms in a particular VA CLE System.

   A Pathagoras 'DropDown List is an always-on, always-visible list of the forms in a particular ‘book’ that resides in the toolbar area of your Word screen. You select an item from the List simply by pointing and clicking.

   To create a DropDown List:

1.Click the Document Assembly icon.
2.Select the book that you want to assign to the DropDown List.
3.Select the “Create DropDown List” option from the center box. Figure 8.

Click to enlarge.

Figure 8. Creating a DropDown List

   Follow the prompts that ask you how you want the forms to be identified in the dropdown display.  You likely will be most ‘happy’ with “Subject” as the answer to the first prompt and “Name” as the answer to the second, but you can experiment with different approaches. Pathagoras allows 5 DropDown Lists with the trial version and 10 in the full retail version.

   When the process is complete, you will be able to see the DropDown List(s) in the toolbar area of your Word screen. From here, it is a simple point-and-click operation to move a copy of a form into your editing screen.

   The DropDown List is a permanent control. It will remain on your screen for all future sessions (unless you dismiss it) and will reappear when you restart Word.

A word about the [bracketed variables] and underscore variables.

   Two types of variables are used in the various forms that you will find on the CD. [Bracketed variables] and underscore characters (e.g., “____________”). A concerted effort was made to convert as many of the underscore variables found in the original version of this Manual to bracketed variables, but for maximum flexibility, many were intentionally left as underscore characters. There are several distinct reasons why underscore characters remain:

To allow you to ‘hard code’ your firm’s data (fixed claim’s rate, bracketed fee structure, fixed response periods, and the like) which are not true ‘variables’. You should open the underlying form(s) and, assuming that your firms has a fixed rate, hand type the rate into the form itself. Save the form in its original location. When the form is recalled, the hard coded information will be present. If you want to decide each time (i.e., it truly varies from client to client, then you can add a variable simply by typing “[variable name]” (no quotes) in lieu of the underline. Make the variable name something meaningful for you and your staff.
We have set out still other terms as bracketed variables when in fact you may wish them to be either hard coded or underscores.

   To 'hardcode' text into a form, open the underlying form and adjust these variables to your liking. For example, you may wish to assign the variables “[Our Firm]” , “[Our Address1], etc. to the actual name and address of your firm. You can freely edit any form. There is no hidden coding or fields that you might accidentally erase that might cause the program to cease functioning.

Other variables have been left as underscore characters “____________” because of the difficulty in trying to assign a variable out of the context of the letter itself. After you compose the final draft of the letter, you should scan the document for such underlines and replace as appropriate.
Still other underscore characters remain for purely practical reasons:
oSome underscores remain because they simply belong. For example, The text “City/County of ______________” in a notary jurat  is rarely pre-typed. It is typically hand completed when the notary witnesses the signature. Similarly, the date fields for the  Attorney’s Certificate of Mailing found at the foot of pleading and notices remain in place. The fields are typically hand completed immediately prior to mailing.
oIn some forms, the underline is intended to note a column of numerical values. If a ‘text’ variable were inserted, the columns would likely not line up and the visual representation that a mathematical operation is to be performed would be lost.
oOther forms are similarly simply meant to be completed ‘by hand’ in their entirety.

   On the other hand, there may be situations where you wish a bracketed variable to be an underscore variable. In such case, open the source document and replace the bracketed variables with underlines before printing the form.

   All brackets and braces can be highlighted (colored red) so that they stand out move readily. To highlight them, click the Pathagoras|Editing Tools. Scroll down to, and press the “Color Markers” button.

   One final matter. This is a new version of this Manual. It is the first publication with the extensive markups intended to promote document automation. If you have suggestions for improvements in layout, options or optional text that you feel would improve the function of the forms, let us know. If we have suggested an incorrect variable, please let us know that as well so that a corrected reference can be made for future editions.

   Every effort has been made to maintain consistency in the naming of variables from document to document, and where possible, from Manual to Manual. That way, the data saved for a particular client or case can be reused for another document prepared for the same client or case. To the extent you see improvements are possible in this area, please let the Pathagoras folks know at vacle@pathagoras.com.