Aiming to help law firms capture more client leads and streamline client intake, the law practice management company Smokeball is introducing Smokeball Intake, an intake workflow system integrated within its platform that is intended to provide potential clients with the kind of digital experience they expect from a modern law firm.

The new feature is currently being tested in beta with selected customers and will be generally available in the second quarter of the year.

“Consumer behavior has changed across the entire services landscape in recent years and the way consumers of legal services buy is no exception,” said Jane Oxley, chief revenue officer at Smokeball.

“For law firms to stay competitive in this new era, they need to embrace the way consumers as a whole want to engage with their services. Even word-of-mouth referrals will look elsewhere in the future if a law firm does not have an easy way for them to interact.”

Smokeball says the new feature offers firms four principle benefits, enabling them to:

  • Deliver the kind of modern digital experience that prospects and clients in 2023 expect.
  • Increase revenue by preventing leads from being lost and helping generate word of mouth referrals.
  • Streamline the intake process with practice area specific intake forms that capture the right information for the matter type.
  • Eliminate duplicate data entry and risk of human error by capturing all information provided by the client directly into Smokeball.

During a preview last week of the new intake system, Jordan L. Turk, attorney and legal technology advisor at Smokeball, told me that the purpose is to eliminate paper-based intake workflows that are inefficient and error-prone. “We are an all-in-one cloud-based practice management system that takes your firm all the way from intake to closing out the file,” she said.

The new intake feature, available to all Smokeball customers at no additional cost, enables a firm to add a customizable web inquiry form to its website that a potential client can fill out to request assistance. The client’s information is directly added to Smokeball and the client appears in the Smokeball dashboard as a new lead.

The lead is also automatically added to Smokeball Communicate, the platform’s client portal, which makes it easy for the firm to directly message and exchange files with the client through a secure portal and also to chat about the client with other law firm staff. Smokeball automatically captures all Communicate time and activity.

From there, the firm can send the lead a request to fill out an intake form to get more information about the client and the matter. Smokeball provides different intake-form templates tailored to different practice areas, any of which can be customized by the firm.

The firm can send the request to the client either by email or through Communicate, and the client can access the form either by downloading the Communicate app or by logging in through a web browser.

All of the information the client provides through the intake form is added to Smokeball, where it can be used to fill in fields in generating automated legal forms.

As of today’s launch, Smokeball is offering templates for four areas of law — estate planning, family, criminal and personal injury. It says it will eventually have templates for other major areas of law practice.

Smokeball also includes the ability to create custom workflows around the intake process. Workflows can be tied to events to show what needs to be done next for a client and who within the firm is responsible.

“When thinking about our approach to client intake at Smokeball, we wanted to ensure that law firms were placing their clients at the center of this experience, while also reaping the benefits of our trademark practice area specificity,” Oxley said. “What we’re proud of is the deep level of data at that initial point of intake integrated throughout matter workflows, avoiding re-data entry.

“Leveraging the practice area specificity inherent to the way Smokeball is built means attorneys, quite simply, won’t have to enter in basic data about their prospects and clients. Easy onboarding and reduction in administration that we know clogs up a firm’s day.”

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.