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About Smokeball

Smokeball Review: Law Practice Management Software

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Lawyerist Rating for Smokeball

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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: 3.8/5 (based on 6 ratings)

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

Composite Rating: 4.1/5

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

4.1/5

Product Details

Apps
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Windows
Installation
  • Hybrid
Software Integrations
  • LawPay
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • QuickBooks Online
  • Zapier
  • LawToolBox
  • Lawmatics
  • ScanSnap
  • Smith AI
  • InfoTrack
  • Microsoft Word
  • RingCentral
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Family Law Software
  • LawLytics
  • YoCierge
  • DecisionVault
  • Settify
  • Vxt
  • Zoom
  • TXdocs

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.

Yes
No

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.

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.

Open API

Compare Smokeball Similar Products

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Smokeball

4.1/5

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Pros
  • On-premises Option
  • Document Automation
  • Advanced Trust Accounting
Cons
  • Complex Initial Set-up
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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I use Smokeball?

Smokeball is a hybrid platform that requires an on-premises component. Most users will access their information from their local, Windows-based computer.

What is the price of Smokeball?

Smokeball does not publish pricing. They list tiers—Bill, Boost, Grow, and Prosper+—and suggest scheduling a demo.

Is Smokeball secure?

It will be as secure as the law firm's on-premises network. Additionally, web-based access is secured through SSL encryption.

Does Smokeball integrate with Microsoft 365?

Yes. Smokeball has integrations with Microsoft Word and Outlook.

Does Smokeball integrate with Google Workspace?

No. As of this review, Smokeball does not integrate directly with Google Workspaces.

Can Smokeball handle my Trust Accounting?

It is highly likely that Smokeball can handle your trust accounting. The system boasts very strong accounting features that can handle all but the most complex trust accounting.

Can I accept online payments with Smokeball?

Yes. Each pricing tier of Smokeball includes online payments through LawPay.

Does Smokeball integrate with Zapier?

No. As of this review, Smokeball does not have a direct Zapier integration.

Can I automate documents with Smokeball?

Yes. At the Grow pricing tier, Smokeball includes document automation features.

Is Smokeball compatible with both PC and Mac?

Although the Smokeball software can be set up on both a PC and a Mac, it is best used day-to-day in an Intel-based Windows environment.

Additional Details about Smokeball

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–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 to automate the document’s creation fully.

Automated Time Tracking

Due to the tight Microsoft Word and Outlook integration, Smokeball’s Activity Intelligence feature keeps 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, and creates billing reports. It also integrates with LawPay and QuickBooks, Xero 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

Basics

Windows only

Mac users will have to run Windows using virtualization software like Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMWare Fusion to use Smokeball. Furthermore, Smokeball does not support ARM processors. Macs released since 2020 run Apple Silicone, not Intel. Virtualization on these systems requires Parallels and Windows on Arm, meaning Macs made since 2020 are a no-go.

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.

Setup

After signing 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:

  • 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; and
  • 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.

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 the interface—either automatically or manually. Then they can use its billing features to transform time entry into finalized invoices and send invoices.

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 while at rest. This is an essential element all users should look for in any software that houses or manages sensitive data.

Who Smokeball is for

This software is a great fit for small Intel-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 Gavel, Lawyaw, Knackly, or PatternBuilder, 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.

Not sure where to begin? Download our Field Guide

Take the guesswork out of researching, purchasing, and implementing the right legal tech products and services for your law firm. Our Field Guide answers your essential questions and breaks down the features most important to your business, so you can buy with confidence.

Ipad featuring field guide pdf

Smokeball Community Reviews

3.8

Based on 6 Ratings

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  • Kimberly M. says:

    Smokeball for start-up

    When I opened my own firm, I was in the middle of investigating other PM/timekeeping products for my old firm and had demo’d many programs. SB came out on top because of the hybrid installation, the look of the product and the timekeeping features. I have not been disappointed! There are a few issues as mentioned in the review about state court forms – NH’s probate forms will not autocalculate. However, we’ve found the team responsive and helpful when we run into problems. We initially did the accounting for real estate transactions through our trust account incorrectly and they helped get it all straightened out. We did not migrate data, so can’t speak to those reviews below. The document automation has been fantastic – we have our estate planning documents automated and it’s a huge timesaver – no more fear of having another client’s name in the documents somewhere because you start with a fresh document each time. The AI timekeeping has increased my billable hours about 2-3 per week. The only bummers are that it can’t catch phone calls or internet research but that’s a small downside. You can personalize the training to what you need — just schedule a time and it’s yours with the trainer — no set agenda once you get past the initial classes. One thing that is incorrect above is that the program DOES TEXT so you don’t have to give out your mobile number.
  • Rachel R. says:

    Smokeball for Texas Family Law Firm

    I signed the initial contract with Smokeball in May of 2022 and I paid extra for Smokeball to migrate my client data from the case management system I was using. It is now February of 2023 and I still do not have a working product. Smokeball has not migrated my data. They have not provided me with a firm dashboard. There has been turnover and I have lost “my” data migration specialist multiple times. I cannot begin using Smokeball until the data is migrated and I have a firm dashboard so I am paying for two case management systems right now. When I informed Smokeball that I just wanted out of the agreement. They said they cannot do that so they are still charging me and I do not have a usable product. This has been a miserable experience and their customer service has been terrible. I strongly advise against entering any agreements with Smokeball.
  • Christopher S. says:

    Smokeball for a Family Law Firm

    I made the change from Leap to Smokeball as the principal of a small family law firm. I invested in the cost of moving data files from Leap and set up MYOB to work with Smokeball. I made the transition pulled the trigger and on day one found the court documents I was promised would work were terrible. Unlike Leap no autocalculate.
    I was offered add on software ‘FamilyProperty’ which was never mentioned at the time of initial negotiation.
    I am still waiting a refund 5 months after terminating the agreement as a consequence of the failure of Smokeball to deliver software in accordance with the representations made regarding its performance.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
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