To say to a law firm that we can enable you to double your revenue sounds like an outlandish marketing claim. So when at Smokeball we started looking at the data and realized that it is not only possible, it has already happened for many of our clients, we felt uncomfortable shouting it from the rooftops because it sounds too good to be true. And then there’s the other uncomfortable factor – the feeling that we’re indicating that you’ll be charging your clients double. Which, fortunately, is not true.
With Smokeball, law firms bill more without their clients paying more. This is because Smokeball has a combination of features which enable accurate billing, but also significantly increase productivity.
Smokeball has a unique feature called AutoTime which tracks every minute that every staff member in your firm spends on each case. This tracking is used to bill your time on your time billed work, track profitability on your fixed and contingency work, and to track staff activity enabling you to balance workloads and monitor remote workers. The technology behind AutoTime is incredibly sophisticated, with timers starting and pausing as you move between applications on your computer. Because everything you do in Smokeball is attached to a particular case, it’s clear what work you’ve done for each client.
Then there’s the other side of the “bill more without your clients paying more” equation, i.e. the “without your clients paying more” piece. Smokeball started life as a productivity engine, the goal being to allow firms to get substantially more work done every day. No one wants to bill for their administrative time anyway, so cut those hours out of your day by using powerful email management to file and then find emails; document automation to get your court forms and letters produced faster; tasks and workflows to keep on top of your critical dates, and so on.
So, doubling your revenue. How is this possible? Let’s look at it for a fixed fee matter and a time billed matter. For your fixed fee work, it’s pretty simple. If you can get the work done in half the time you can do double the work. One of our clients recently posted a review where she said she now gets through three times the work she did prior to using Smokeball. For her, doubling her revenue would seem to be conservative!
For your time billed work, the story is a little more complex. Let’s look first at the industry data. Multiple studies have shown that the average small to mid-size law firm is only billing 2.02 hours per day. At first we thought this must be incorrect, but when we started having conversations with firms we started to see that it was true. Firms told us that only around 30% of their day’s work ends up on an invoice. When we dug into the reason why, we realized that there were many: time recording days after the work was done; the difficulty of time recording when you are jumping from one task to the next; the number of emails flowing into and out of each fee earners inbox; feeling reticent to bill for work that could have been carried out more efficiently; junior staff marking their time down because they feel they took too long. And the list goes on!
We’ve had firms who have told us that, paradoxically, their busiest months can be some of their lowest billing months because in these months they simply don’t have time to keep track of their time, get their invoices out in a timely fashion, or send billing reminders when they are trying to keep up with deadlines.
If 30% of your day’s work ends up an invoice, doubling your revenue means you’re still only charging for 60% of the time you actually worked. In this light, it doesn’t seem so outlandish. In fact, it seems fair.