Increase Productivity With Smokeball
BY Dexter Tam
Smokeball, a legal practice management software, is designed with small law firms in mind, where attorneys might have to juggle multiple responsibilities regardless of their position in the firm.
Smokeball, founded in 2010 and headquartered in Chicago, attempts to increase productivity and ease workload for small law firms that may have limited resources.
Effective communication between attorney and client is key to the success of any firm. With Smokeball, all emails pertaining to a specific case are housed in a “centralized area, known as the Digital File.” The Digital File lets everyone working on the case see the emails, saving you time by not having to forward or cc emails.
Smokeball’s email management system is integrated with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word. This allows Smokeball to convert documents into PDFs before sending them as attachments. Furthermore, Smokeball can merge multiple documents into one PDF.
How Smokeball helps productivity
The primary purpose of subscribing to practice management software is to increase productivity. Smokeball, as a cloud-based program, which also has a mobile app, allows you to work from anywhere. The software can be accessed from outside the office on your tablet or phone.
To save time and increase productivity of any law firm, Smokeball has over 12,000 county, state and federal legal forms in its library available for download. As there are many different practice areas, different kinds of forms will correspond to each one. To further increase productivity, Smokeball can populate your legal forms with your client’s details for you. This automation will dissolve the tedious task of having to manually input information into every form.
As with any size company, productivity is not the only crucial factor. A successful firm will also have to be profitable. One of Softball's features, the Activity Intelligence (AI), is designed to track your firm's productivity and profitability. Smokeball’s AI will compile all activities performed by your law firm into data that can be made into reports. These reports can show employee performance and how much time is spent on a specific case. You can then cross-reference your billing rate and see if a case will be profitable.
In conjunction with Smokeball’s AI is a feature called AutoTime, which will automatically keep track of the amount of time you and you firm spend on a particular case. AutoTime will also create a timesheet for every employee. Embedded within AutoTime is Performance Profitability Tracking, which will keep a record of profitability for every employee, client and practice area. This gives Smokeball an unprecedented ability to forecast insight of your firm and its inner-workings.
How is Smokeball customizable to your needs?
Small law firms generally provide services in one or two niche areas. Smokeball understands this and makes it possible for your firm to personalize your software to fit your practice.
The practice areas Smokeball provides customized services for include:
- Personal Injury
- Real Estate Law
- Estate Planning
- Family Law
- Business Law
- Intellectual Property Law
- Criminal Law
- Civil Litigation
For example, if your firm primarily provides personal injury services, Smokeball can keep track of your client’s medical invoices, wage and earning losses, and even forecast how much you will receive in your settlement. For someone in the criminal law field, Smokeball can keep track of police reports, plea offers and court deadlines.
This personalization makes running a law practice more efficient and allows you to do your due diligence smoothly.
What is involved in setting up Smokeball?
To begin the process of setting up Smokeball, you will first need to create an account and have a consultation call in order to better personalize your software. A representative will try to get an understanding of your firm’s culture to tailor the training process.
A Smokeball employee will guide you along the installation process, or set it up for you remotely, whichever you prefer. After Smokeball is installed, two onboarding training sessions will teach you how to use the basic and advanced features of the software.
What are customers saying about Smokeball?
Clients of Smokeball have said that they appreciate its seamless integration with Outlook and Word. Having every document and email in one place makes workflow more efficient. The ability to automate documents allows clients to save a great deal of time. Customer service is also highlighted as a plus.
Criticism of Smokeball centers on the occasional glitches that cause a document not to open or sync. Additionally, case process workflow is not available. Smokeball's invoice and billing functionality is lacking. The connection with Boost Billing is not optimal and no integration with Quickbooks may make accounting difficult. Clients have also noted that the software is very resource-heavy.
Smokeball is protected by a 128-bit SSL and is stored on Amazon’s S3 server. Smokeball costs $139 per user per month on top of a one-time onboarding fee of $300 per user, where a client-training specialist will teach you how to use the software. The software currently only supports Windows for desktop and iOS/Android for mobile.
Smokeball offers a free certification program designed to help users improve at utilizing Smokeball and Microsoft Office Suite. The program also tries to educate users on apps that promote productivity and organization. The certification program consists of ten quizzes, and upon completion you will receive a digital certification and a badge that can be placed in your LinkedIn profile.
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