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6 Reports to Run to Understand Legal Business Performance

Alex Onion

Written by

Alex Onion


June 16, 2023

Smokeball’s Law Firm Insights help law firm leaders make smarter business decisions, increase profitability, and more. Here’s how.

When you’re overwhelmed with a heavy caseload, it can be easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day operations of managing your law firm. But if you’re looking for ways to streamline and expand your legal business in the years ahead, it’s equally important to take a regular step back: to observe from a bird’s-eye view what’s working, and where there’s room for improvement.  

Tracking the right law firm metrics gives you a clear look at your firm’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can create a firm action plan for the future. But which metrics are the most important, and how can you stay on top of them amongst your countless other responsibilities?

That’s where Smokeball’s Law Firm Insights can help. Our legal reporting software pinpoints the most valuable metrics for growing firms, collects data in the background while your team works each day and compiles it into simple reports, and ultimately gives you actionable insights that help you make smarter business decisions.  

Law firms that take advantage of Law Firm Insights are more confident in how they spend money and where they focus their efforts, have a better understanding of what drives profit, and have a greater knowledge of which staff members are most productive.  

Here are the most important Smokeball reports you should run to understand your legal team’s performance and grow in the years ahead.

1. New Legal Business Insights

Smokeball’s New Business Insights report gives you an umbrella overview of your entire firm’s performance, rounding up the most important metrics you should monitor to understand business growth over time. Take a comprehensive look at where new clients come from, how much profit they’re bringing in, and which staff members are responsible for the newest business.

Use this report to: analyze firm trends over time, so that you can make organization-wide improvements and business decisions, like where to spend money on marketing, hiring and business development.

Key metrics include:

  • Number of new matters created
  • Matters created by type/practice area
  • Matters created by each attorney
  • New client referral sources

Review this report: weekly, monthly, and annually. It’s important to look at both micro and macro trends, so that you can build annual strategies and check on growth as you go.

Most valuable for these practice areas: All of them! Think of this as the starting place for any law firm that’s looking to better understand their performance.

1. Lead Insights

Our Lead Insights report offers a deeper dive into how potential new clients are finding and engaging with your firm. Find out which types of leads are most likely to become a client, and which are less effective in driving new business.

Use this report to: Decide where to spend marketing efforts and budget, based on which leads are most profitable.

Key metrics include:

  • Lead referral source (like Google, website, friend/family, previous client, etc.)
  • Lead conversion (which leads become clients?)
  • Lead volume (how many new leads are collected within a given time frame?)

Review this report: Monthly and annually, to build and revise marketing strategies.

Most valuable for these practice areas: Estate planning and personal injury firms, which bring in a high volume of new business and advertise frequently.

2. Fee Insights

The purpose of Smokeball’s Fee Insights report is twofold: 1) to understand overall law firm profitability, and 2) to stay on top of client billing. Fee Insights offers an overview of the fees your firm has charged over time, shows you which types of clients collect the most fees, and helps you understand how frequently your firm gets paid.

Fee Insights also helps you improve your firm’s financial health, with trust statements and income allocation reports that keep you well-informed about your firms’ accounting efforts. Quickly identify red flags like underperforming staff or areas of law in your practice that are struggling, monitor work in progress and see which matters create the most fee entries.

Use this report to: Understand profitability by client and which fee earners and matter types are the most successful.

Key metrics include:

  • Overall fees collected
  • Fees collected by matter type
  • Fees collected by client
  • Fees collected by each fee-earner

Review this report: weekly if you'd like to watch a case or fee earner's progress. Otherwise, semi-monthly or monthly around billing cycles should suffice to monitor.

Most valuable for these practice areas: Criminal and family law firms, which often struggle with timely fee collection. General practice firms to see which areas of law are performing the best. Any firm to see which fee earners are most profitable.

3. Hourly Billing Performance Insights

Smokeball’s Hourly Billing Performance Insights integrates with our time-tracking software to show you where your team spends time each day, and the number or time entries created vs the amount of time tracked by Smokeball AutoTime. See fees earned by each staff member, compare it with their annual salaries, and calculate how much profit each staff member earns.

Not only does this report help you understand how many billable hours were logged and where there are holes in productivity, but it can also help you make hiring, promotion and staff salary/raise decisions.

Use this report to: Understand billing performance, coach underperforming employees about how they can log more billable hours and determine performance review ratings and salary increases.

Key metrics include:

  • All-time total hours billed
  • Hours billed per day
  • Hours logged by staff member
  • Hours billed/fees earned by staff member
  • Staff member cost

Review this report: Daily, to track staff performance and productivity.

Most valuable for these practice areas: Any firm that bills hourly. Estate planning and real estate firms who bill on a fixed-fee basis also find this report valuable to gain a better understanding of how much time is spent on each matter, so that they can understand where they’re focusing too much effort and losing profit.  

4. Smokeball Activity Insights

Think of Smokeball Activity Insights to better streamline your firm‘s workflows. This report shows you whether you’re using Smokeball’s case management software to its full potential, with insights into how well you’ve automated daily processes and where there’s an opportunity for greater efficiency.

It’s also a great way to see whether you’re ready to activate a new area of automation, or if certain firm members could use more focused Smokeball training.

Use this report to: Better automate your firm’s processes and maximize your software’s return on investment.

Key metrics include:

  • Total Smokeball usage, with benchmarks to compare your usage with similar firms
  • Matter created in Smokeball
  • Files stored in Smokeball
  • Documents created, signed and automated in Smokeball
  • Daily tasks completed in Smokeball

Review this report: Monthly, in partnership with your Smokeball customer support team.

Most valuable for these practice areas: Anyone who uses Smokeball!

5. Practice area-specific and custom reporting

Last but certainly not least, Smokeball also offers area-of-law-specific reports that drive deeper insights into your firm’s practice area. For example, our Real Estate Insights report offers metrics like:

  • Number of transactions/successful closings
  • Closing costs
  • Average transaction value
  • Time to close

This report helps real estate firms learn which types of deals are the most profitable and efficient and make decisions about which types of clients to take on.

We also recognize that your firm might need something a bit more custom when it comes to reporting. While almost every report you need is readily available in Smokeball, your team might be used to reports you’ve created or used in the past. If that’s the case, our team can build you a custom report that fits your needs.

6. Law firm reporting that unlocks your team’s full potential

As a busy law firm leader, we know your time is limited. But as you compete with other practices for clients and talent, having a comprehensive view of your team’s performance is paramount. With Smokeball’s Law Firm Insights, you’ll have easy access to the metrics you need to drive your firm forward—and become more profitable, productive and efficient, no matter how or where your team works.

Related Product Content

The Value of Data-Driven Lawyer Performance Insights

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Driving Results for Personal Injury Firm Performance with Data Reports

Driving Results for Personal Injury Firm Performance with Data Reports

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