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Smokeball

Smokeball Rating:
4.5/5

Features

  • Customer Experience & Support - 9/10
    9/10
  • Pricing & Value - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Security - 10/10
    10/10
  • Innovation & Future-Proofing - 8.25/10
    8.3/10
8.7/10
Comments Rating 5 (3 reviews)
Details

Rating Breakdown

Our Rating: 4.3/5

Our rating is based on our subjective judgment. Use our resources—including our rating and community ratings and reviews—to find the best fit for your firm.

Community Rating: 5/5 (based on 3 ratings)

The community rating is based on the average of the community reviews below.

Composite Rating: 4.5/5

The composite rating is a weighted average of our rating and the community ratings below.

Smokeball is a hybrid desktop and cloud-based law practice management software for law firms who run on Windows. Its robust document and automation features are tightly integrated with Microsoft Word and Outlook.

Who Smokeball Is For

This software is a great fit for small Windows-based firms that have a need for high-quality built-in document assembly and automations. Although it is not a computable document creator like Documate, Lawyaw, Knackly, or Community.Lawyer, it is one of the stronger document creation platforms in an LPMS.

Folks who are looking for sheer number of integrations, may not be satisfied with Smokeball’s offerings. However, the select integrations that are available are usually very good.

Smokeball Features

Website
www.smokeball.com
Starting Cost
Custom
Apps
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Windows
Installation
  • Hybrid
Core Features
For law practice management software, the following are essential features, and you should therefore expect to see a check in every box in this section.
Case/Matter Management
Matter management is the defining feature of law practice management software, of course. However, some software is targeted at specific practice areas and may implement case management in different ways in order to manage information specific to those practice areas.
Client/Contact Management
Managing clients and other contacts is a core feature of law practice management software.
Task Management
Basic task management includes creating tasks with due dates that can be associated with cases/matters and assigned to different lawyers. Some products stick to pretty basic task management, while others offer enough features to make any Getting Things Done devotee happy.
Calendar
As with email, this feature means a full calendar client, not just an integration with Outlook or Google Calendar.
Timekeeping
Timekeeping is a core feature of practice management software, essential for lawyers who bill by the hour but useful even for those who don't.
Additional Features
Conflict Checking
An actual conflict checker is more than just a search box. This applies to software that actually has a conflict checking feature. Implementation varies, but at a minimum you should be able to search the entire database for matching names. It should check for conflicts accurately and intuitively, allow for a lateral hire to input their conflict database into the system, work quickly when new clients call, and comply with the rules of professional conduct for checking conflicts.
Email Client
Does it include a full email client? (Alternative solutions that don't amount to an email client, like plugins for Outlook or Gmail, do not earn a check for this feature. See software integrations, below.))
Text Messaging
Can you send and receive text messages and associate them with your matters?
Document Management
Basic document management allows you to add documents and associate them with your cases/matters.
Document Assembly
Loading your firm’s document templates into your law practice management software can save time and ensure consistency. This check means basic document assembly suitable for form letters, invoices, etc. For advanced document assembly, you’ll probably need additional software.
Secure Client Portal
Basic Bookkeeping
This means basic checkbook register–style bookkeeping, which is more limited than full accounting. You should be able to keep track of your operating accounts and reconcile your balances, but you may still need full accounting software.
Trust Accounting
This means you can track your client trust accounts, including expenses and payments. It is normal to see trust accounting without basic bookkeeping or full accounting, in which case you will need something else for accounting.
Full Accounting
Some software includes full double-entry accounting features, making additional accounting software unnecessary.
Billing & Invoicing
Does the software allow you to send bills or invoices?
Online Payments
Payment processing is increasingly offered either as an included or add-on feature, especially with cloud-based law practice management software.
Software Integrations
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Family Law Software
  • InfoTrack
  • LawPay
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Word
  • QuickBooks Online
  • RingCentral
  • ScanSnap
Open API

Additional Details about Smokeball

Smokeball Highlights

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 you set up additional templates, or you can build them yourself.

The software also keeps all files and matter information–including emails and billing data–all in one place for better organization of your cases and tasks. This allows for a stand-out automation feature where you 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 what you are doing as long as you are working in Smokeball, Word, or Outlook. If you bill for time, you can convert tracked time into billable entries manually or automatically. If you bill by flat fee or contingency, Smokeball converts tracked time into profitability and productivity analyses 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, and integrates with LawPay, Quickbooks, and Xero to create full firm billing suite.

Offline access. Because Smokeball installs locally on PCs, you can keep using it even when you are offline. Some users find the sync issues to be frustrating, however, it is the price you pay for this level of convenience.

Cloud backend. Instead of requiring your firm to set up and maintain a server, Smokeball uses the cloud to make your data available to everyone in your firm. This way, you can access documents from any computer with Smokeball or through the Smokeball mobile app so you can view and save documents on the go.

Things You Might Want to Know

Basics

Windows only. If you use a Mac, you will have to run Windows using virtualization software like Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMWare Fusion in order to use Smokeball.

Apps. There are also limited mobile apps for both iOS and Android. These show you information in matters, your daily digest, your calendar (and those of your colleagues, if applicable), your tasks and to-do list, and also let you add documents to a matter.

Setup

After you sign up, a representative will schedule a call with you. They’ll guide you through the install process as well as remotely install and configure the software for you. This includes:

  • Installation.
  • 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 your contacts, there is no way to bulk import information from other practice management software into Smokeball. For contacts, you can provide a CSV file to Smokeball during your onboarding experience. 

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) give your documents to Smokeball, which will turn them into templates for you; or (3) set up your 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 if you don’t want everyone’s tasks to be shared with everyone else at the firm.

Ai (Activity Intelligence). Ai is a tool to help you keep track of what’s happening in your firm on a day-to-day basis. Activity Intelligence allows you to add activities to client bills or simply review your and your team’s productivity.

Invoicing included. You can track your time in their interface—either automatically or manually—and use its billing features to transform your time entry into finalized invoices and send invoices.

Data & Security

Backup. For storage and 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 your computer and their servers and all data while at rest. For what it’s worth, most of the cloud-based practice management software options in our directory use 256-bit SSL encryption.

Smokeball Pricing

Smokeball’s pricing information is available upon request. To learn more about their pricing options, you will need to reach out for more information.

Leave a Review

3 Smokeball Community Reviews

  1. Scott S. says:

    Magic

    Started using it 18 months ago. I reclaimed 2-3 days per month that I used to spend doing the bills and managing the billing process. The auto-time tracking feature is the most remarkable development ever. If your fingers are on a keyboard, Smokeball is capturing your time. Most days, billing for me now means 3-5 minutes of editing the auto-time data. Billing and editing is easy to use. Also robust practice management features and cloud storage. My entire electronic pleading file is now on my phone.

    It’s not perfect, it needs some more reporting tools. But it is the most amazing, flexible and robust solution I’ve encountered. I can’t recommend it enough.

  2. Robert T. says:

    Kept their promises

    I have a not super complicated EP practice, and I went with Smokeball because of their promise to tightly integrate with Office 365 and provide excellent document assembly. It also has some automated timekeeping feature, where it tracks the emails, documents, and memo’s created out of Smokeball – making it easy to complete your timekeeping later in the day. I’ve been very, very happy.

  3. Sheldon M. says:

    Excellent Email Integration

    Extremely satisfied. Smokeball has an excellent layout, helpful support and the desktop elements makes it faster than web-based programs. Additionally, Smokeball allows you to link emails to matters directly in Outlook as well as to directly upload and save documents to/from matters. I don’t think any other practice management software offers this level of integration.