Robust document management, organization, and productivity. Smokeball’s marquee feature is document assembly and automation. It comes with a variety of forms and letters pre-installed. Their team can also help set up additional templates, or firms can build them independently.
The software also keeps all files and matter information–including emails and billing data–all in one place for better organization of cases and tasks. This allows for a stand-out automation feature where users can attach a template to a workflow task so as to automate the document’s creation fully.
Automated time tracking. Due to the tight Microsoft Word and Outlook integration, Smokeball’s Activity Intelligence feature can keep track of work as long as you are working in Smokeball, Word, or Outlook. Firms that bill for time can convert tracked time into billable entries manually or automatically. For firms that bill by flat fee or contingency, Smokeball converts tracked time into profitability and productivity analyses. Time is broken down by practice area, matter, and staff member.
Smokeball Billing. Attorney billing features are tightly integrated with the Smokeball practice management system. It creates and delivers invoices, tracks trust accounts, creates billing reports. It also integrates with LawPay, Quickbooks, and Xero to create a full firm billing suite.
Offline access. Because Smokeball installs locally on PCs, its available to use offline. Some users find the sync issues to be frustrating, however, it comes with this level of convenience.
Cloud backend. Instead of requiring server set up and maintenance, Smokeball uses the cloud to make data available to everyone in the firm. This way, users can access documents from any computer with Smokeball or through the Smokeball mobile app so users can view and save documents on the go.
Things You Might Want to Know
Windows only. Mac users will have to run Windows using virtualization software like Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMWare Fusion in order to use Smokeball.
Apps. There are mobile apps for both iOS and Android. The mobile apps allow users to view matters, see daily digests, personal and team calendars, tasks and to-do lists. Users can also add documents to a matter from the app.
After sign up, a representative will schedule a call. They go through the install process and remotely install and configure the software. Here’s what’s included in the onboarding process:
- Installing add-ins for Microsoft Word and Outlook.
- Setting up your letterhead template.
- Configuring user preferences.
- A consultation call to learn more about your firm and its needs.
- Two online training sessions covering basic and advanced features, and additional feature-related training you request.
- Dedicated account management from their “client success team” for the life of your subscription.
In short, the setup process is fairly time-intensive, but in general, robust functionality requires some set-up..
Migration. Except for contacts, there is no way to bulk import information from other practice management software into Smokeball. For contacts, Smokeball asks for a CSV file during onboarding. The tight integration with Microsoft Outlook also includes calendar sync.
Template setup. There are three ways to get up and running with document assembly: (1) use the pre-installed templates, which include public court and administrative forms; (2) provide documents to Smokeball to turn them into templates; or (3) set up templates yourself.
Tasks & Activities
Task permissions. While it is convenient to be able to view the tasks of everyone at the firm, there is no way to restrict permissions.
Invoicing included. Users can track time in their interface—either automatically or manually. Then they can use its billing features to transform time entry into finalized invoices and send invoices.
Data & Security
Backup. Smokeball uses Amazon S3, a cloud-storage service with a high level of security, uptime, and backup capabilities.
Security. Smokeball uses 256-bit SSL encryption for all data traveling between computers, servers, and all data while at rest. This is an essential element all users should look for in any software that houses or manages sensitive data.