Your first time in the office can often be a daunting and outright intimidating experience. You may know the manual, but if you do not know how to effectively run the office, you will not be successful in getting anything done. This protocol is a basic how to guide of the Office.
The Basics of the Office
The SCAS Office is where you will conduct most of your work as a volunteer for the organization. There are a few basic things that you will need to know.
- The Key to the office is located in the SCAS Mailbox in the back right of the first floor of the PBHA building. ALWAYS PUT THE KEY IN THE EXACT SAME MAILBOX. If you realize that you have the key after you have left, immediately return back to PBHA and bring the key back. If you arrive at the office and find that the key is missing, you should 1)check the entire mailbox, 2)go to the office and make sure no one is inside, 3)ask someone to open the door, and 4)send an email immediately out over the SCAS HCS list requesting that whoever has the key return it. Make sure that the key is also not in the office by accident.
- The Computer is also a valuable resource. It has the I3 and most, if not all of the files you will need. DO NOT TURN OFF THE COMPUTER. Simply leave it when you are done with your office hours.
- The Phone and Voicemail system are to the left of the computer.
- You will also find multiple copies of the manual in the office. This manual is to stay exclusively in the office. Do not take it or "borrow it."
- You will also find copies of the pamphlets that many other organizations have left in the office, as well as copies of many of the forms that clients will have to fill out for small claims court. Use those copies if you need to reference them for a call or for a client meeting.
The Voicemail System
Accessing the Voicemail
Accessing the voicemail is the most basic task you will perform in the office. To do so, follow the steps below.
- On the Vonage Machine, click the select button
- Scroll down with the arrow to highlight Easy Dialing and press Select.
- Press the voicemail button with the select button.
At this point, if you do not already have the phone off the hook, the phone will ring. Pick it up, and you will be prompted with the password (1965). At that point, follow the protocol outlined by the machine to get to new messages (The short cut is to press 1 and then 1 again at the next prompt to start new messages.)
At that point, the new messages will play from oldest to most recent. When listening to the messages, make sure that you take notes that include:
- The name of the client
- The phone number(s) of the client
- What the client wants
- Brief details of the case
- Any special info about the case (did the individual request a specific person, foreign language problems, etc.)
When you are finished with the messages, upload them to the I3 (as outlined below) and then delete the old messages.
Chainging the Voicemail
To Change the voicemail (For when we go on break or are returning from one), follow the procedure below:
- On the Vonage Machine (the black machine), press select.
- Use the down arrow to select easy dialing and then press select.
- Press select on voicemail.
- Pick up the phone and follow the instructions to be able to change the voicemail.
For a normal voicemail, use the following as a template:
"You have reached the Small Claims Advisory Service. For immediate assistance, please visit our website at masmallclaims.org where there is already a great amount of information. For faster service, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, please leave a message with your name, your phone number, and a brief descriptoin of your case. Thank you for calling!"
For setting a voicemail during vacation, use the following as a template:
"You have reached the Small Claims Advisory Service. We are a student organization and are currently on winter/summer/spring break. For immediate assistance, please visit our website at masmallclaims.org where htere is already a great amount of information. You can also email us at email@example.com. We will not be returning to normal office hours until [Insert date here], but if your matter is not urgent, you can leave a message after the tone with your name, the spelling of yoru name, your phone number, and a brief description of your case. Again, we apologize for the delay and thank you for calling."
Accessing the Voicemail from Another Location
If you are away and want to check voicemails to put them in I3, follow one of the two procedures below.
If you would like to check voicemails by phone:
- Call SCAS at (617) 497-5690 then press *
- You'll be prompted for the password, so enter the pasword and then you'll be at the normal voicemail menu.
Please note that while you use this method, no one in the office can make phone calls. Therefore, do not use this method while someone else has office hours. Instead, it is a great way to 1)do office hours from another location or 2)to check voicemails while we are on vacation.
You may also do it by email:
- Go to vonage.com and click on Manage My Account.
- Enter SCAS's 10-digit phone number and use SCAS1965 as the password.
- Choose voicemail , and you should be able to see all voicemails that we've received them and the phone number from which we received them. To listen to the voicemail you can click the listen link and it'll download the message as a WAV file onto your computer. Vonage's website is very slow though. If you plan to call many clients, use this as a way to jot down the numbers and call the clients back. Clients often retell their stories, so not having the case info is not a huge deal as long as you eventually put all the information onto the I3.
The I3 - How to Use It
The I3 is the software by which SCAS deals with its clients. You amy enter new clients, work with existing clients, and perform many of the tasks that being a SCAS volunteer requires. Learning how to use the I3 is critical to your success as a volunteer.
On the office computer, start up Firefox and you should see several tabs preloaded on the computer. One of them is the SCAS i3. Click on it. There, you will be prompted with a Username and Password. The Username is SCAS while the password is the same as the password for voicemails. Once you've put that on, you will be taken to the main screen for the i3. You will notice three items on the screen.
- The only pull down menu has a list of every volunteer. Simply scroll down to your name, click it, and then press the "Log in" button to log in. You'll know that you've logged in when the bar Currently Logged In As: has your name next to it.
- If your name does not appear, then you may have to create a new user profile. To do, simply click the Create new user profile button. It will request your Name, Email Address, Year of Graduation, whether or not you are a comper, and any particular committee memberships you may have. Once you have filled in the information, click the create user profile button. You will then be able to find your name in the server.
Once inside, you will notice many buttons.
The main menu button takes you to the main screen you see when you immediately log into it.
The database menu will allow you to find existing clients/enter new clients, look at cases by priority, view a list of clients that are currently in the system, view cases by category (sorted by callback priority), or return to the main menu.
The list of cases by priority lists out clients that currently need to be serviced. It is sorted in order of case status, with Urgent cases being at the top, followed by phone tag cases, then clients who have never been contaced. Clients who have one message left will fill the remainder of the screen.
The find/add client tab will allow you to search for clients or add new clients to the database. It crosschecks the database to ensure that there are currently not clients that match the client that you are about to put in to avoid duplication.
The SCAS leaderboard is a fun, competitive way to evaluate how you stack against the rest of the volunteers in the organization. There are three different categories to compete against. The first category only measures how many clients that you have called and helped by phone. The second category evaluates everything except clients that you have put in the system. That means any messages left, any calls that you have made, or calls that you have received. The final category analyzes all categories to see who has actually input the most data.
Clients and the I3 - The stepwise approach
When putting in new clients who have left messages, follow these steps:
- Go to the Find/Add Client tab.
- Enter the first and last name of the client in the respective slots.
- Place the telephone number in the primary phone and, if possible, specifiy with the drop down menu next to it if it is a home, work, or cell phone number.
- Put an additional number in the secondary phone if it is provided, along with what number it is if possible.
- If the client speaks a language outside of English, put it in the slot for Language. By default, English will appear.
- If you have it, place the email for the client. Please remember, you do NOT need to put clients who email us in the I3. You should, however, check the I3 when answering emails to make sure that the person you are helping through email has not already been helped OR that the person is not listed as an individual who is in need of help. If you run into a client who has left an email and called the phone, make sure that on the client's file that you are dealing with to mark how the client is being dealt with.
- Once you have finished, press the submit client button.
Once you have submitted, you will be takento either one of two screens. If the client does not exist in the system, the screen will tell you that there are no matches in the record. If, however, there are possible matches, you will be taken to a screen that states other clients matched the data you entered.
BE SURE TO CHECK OTHER CLIENTS IF THERE ARE POTENTIAL CLIENTS. Often time a client has already called and left a message, meaning that we have a case record for them already. While names may sometimes match, be sure to check the phone numbers for possible matches. If you find someone who already matches your client, then click the match's button and then hit Select Client. If you do not see any matches, then select the last choice that says Add New with the new information that you just entered. Once that has happened, press the choice, then hit select client.
You will then be taken to the Main Client Assistance Database. The Client Info tab has all information relevant to a client. It will include Name, Number, address, langauge, notes, and other information. Although most of this information will never be filled out, fill it out as the information becomes available.
The Case Info is the most important section. When entering a new client, it will be blank. If a client has a court appointment within the week, has a question about Auto Law, or is involved in something that requires immediate response, mark the case as urgent. If a client is marked urgent, call them back yourself IMMEDIATELY. If it is possible, identify the case by type in the Case Category drop down menu. Most of the categories will correspond to the name of the chapters in the manual.
If you know the name of the Opponent, place it in the name as well.
The Notes section is where you will put any information relevant to the case. When you have taken a message, place the notes of the message in the notes. Place the date that you took the message, the message, and at the end of it, place your email address (ex. taylor8@fas or kwalsh@college) so that if there are questions about what you wrote, someone can contact you. When you have finished putting information in the Notes section, be sure to press the Update Client Record. If you do not, it will not save your changes to the information.
Once you have finished inputing data into the case info section, click on the tab contact info and select the correction option depending upon what you have done. When done, click add new to update it as to the last action taken.
Calling Existing Clients
When calling clients back, go to the List of Cases by Priority tab. There you will see clients arrayed. You should answer clients in the following priority:
- Clients marked Urgent
- Clients who have never been contacted (starting from the bottom and working up)
- Everyone else (phone tag)
After having dealt with a client, be sure to
- Take Demographic Information (located under the demographic info tab under a client's information). It includes a dialogue to use. Use it verbatim.
- Update the Case Info (Don't forget to press Update Client Record when done!)
- Go to Contact info and fill in the appropriate response.
If you have any problems with the i3, follow the technology referral protocol listed in this guide.
Referrals and Basic Procedures
Below are procedures for referring clients either to other legal remedies or for dealing with problems and questions that come up. Follow the procedures so that things run in a smooth and orderly fashion. Regardless of whether or not you know who to contact personally, FOLLOW THE PROCEDURES. If you do not, your requests will most likely NOT be answered.
Mediation and Arbitration
In cases that are personal or family related disputes, we tend to encourage our clients to seek mediation/arbitration over immediately going to small claims court so that there is a chance to continue the relationship after the case.
Please refer clients who you think would benefit from mediation/arbitration to the Harvard Mediation Program at the Harvard Law School at 617-495-1854.
The following cases may be good for referral:
- Problems not easily resolved by court settlement (if it isn't "all about the money")
- Emotional disputes
- Parties with continuing relationships
To refer individuals to mediation, use the following script:
- I would also like to suggest a possible alternative to going to court. Are you familiar with mediation?"
- If they have no heard of it before: "Mediation is a voluntary process aimed at resolving disputes outside of court. The mediator is not a judge and he or she does not make a ruling. Rather, the mediator is a trained community member who helps you have a constructive discussion with the other party in order to reach agreement."
- "There are several advantages to mediation. In small claims court, t he clerk-magistrate hears each side and renders a final decision on who wins or loses. In mediation, you have the chance to tell your whole story and work out a holistic solution that is acceptable to both you and the other party. Everything is voluntary and confidential. If you do not reach a settlement in mediation, you retain the right to go to court."
Foreign Language Client
If you receive a message from a client who does not speak English or about a client who is need of foreign language legal services, take the following actions:
- Tell your client you will contact Foreign Language.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line stating "FOREIGN LANGUAGE"
- In the body, include the client name, phone number, language and a brief synopsis of the case.
That email is then forwarded to the Outreach Director in charge of On-Campus outreach. In the case of an emergency, call the On-Campus Outreach Director.
Client Meeting Request or Court Accompaniment:
If a client requests a meeting or court accompaniment, follow the guidelines below:
1) Determine whether you yourself can handle the client meeting or court accompaniment. If you can, then simply schedule it. There is no need to contact the Client Services Director. DO NOT SCHEDULE A MEETING UNLESS YOU KNOW YOU CAN MAKE IT.
2) If you cannot make it, follow one of the two procedures below (Client Meeting or Court Accompaniment)
Client Meeting: Send an email to the Client Services Director with the following information. Use this formula to create a subject for the email: "Client Meeting Request--[Category]"
- Client Name
- Client Phone Number/Email
- Their availability for the rest of the week
- Category (Auto, landlord-tenant, credit-debt, etc)
Court Accompaniment: Send an email to the Client Services Director with the following information. Use this formula to create a subject for the email: "Accompaniment--[Date],[Time],[Location]"
- Client Name
- Client Phone Number/Email
- Court Date/Time/Location
- Category (Auto, landlord-tenant, credit-debt, etc)
In the event of an emergency, call the Client Services and Office Director.
Legal Research Questions
On occasion, you will run into a client who may have a particular legal issue that may not clearly be found in the manual. In cases like this, make sure that 1)the answer is NOT in the manual and 2)that the answer is not located on the SCAS wiki. Questions that are found in the manual WILL NOT be answered and you will look like an idiot.
If the answer is not in either location, then follow the procedure outlined below:
- Tell the client that you will get back to them.
- Email email@example.com with the subject line as "LEGAL RESEARCH" in the subject.
- In the body of the email, state the name of the client, phone number, facts pertinent to the legal question and the actual legal question.
Legal Research will then email you back within 48 hours with the answer so that you can give the client a call back with the answers.
In the event there is an emergency, call the Legal Research Director.
If you encounter any problems with the I3, the voicemail system, or other technology, follow this procedure:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line stating "TECHNOLOGY"
- Include the problem, what you were doing, and where it took place (i.e. the office, your personal computer, etc.) in the body of the email.
That email will then be sent to the Technology Director. If there is an emergency, call the Technology Director.
All other inquiries should be forwarded to the Executive Director.
Although we deal with a great number of clients by phone, many times clients will email us for faster service. As of now, the emails are dealt with exclusively by the Legal Research Committee.
In order to answer emails, simply follow the procedure outlined below:
- Go to gmail.com and log into the account. The gmail username is masmallclaims and the password is SCAS1965.
- Emails are categorized based upon the subject matter. Emails are to be labeled and then archived when answered to maintain order and ensure that emails that are answered are put in a set location. If an individual emails you while it is archived, it will return to the inbox.
- When answering emails, be sure to check the i3 for clients to ensure that we are not duplicating the same cases. If a client who emailed you has also left a message and has not been called, write on the client's case info that he or she is being dealt with via email along with your email address so that any further inquiries will be handled by you.
The gmail account is also where all requests for referrals are done. Any requests that are sent should be:
- Labeled appropriately
- Forwarded to the respective director
Editing the Wiki
Edits to the wiki should only be made by the Legal Research Director. If you notice any changes that need to be made in the wiki, send an email to the legal research director that states what needs to be changed on what specific page.