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Communicate: Group chat and file sharing for dispersed teams

Patrick Davis

Written by

Patrick Davis


March 25, 2020

There are myriad chat apps on the market. Alternatives to Slack and Microsoft Teams include Hangouts Chat, Mattermost, and Flock, but none—sadly—are truly free. Long gone are the days of everyone on AIM. Sure, some remote teams are relying on iMessage and SMS texts in a pinch, but for a decentralized office, consistent (and secure!) communication is a must.

Add to that the need to share files as part of business as usual at any law firm. Again, many lawyers and paralegals rely on platforms like Dropbox, Box, or cloud storage through Microsoft, Google, or Apple. But again: not free and governed by size limits.

What law firms need is a single solution that mixes the best of Slack with the best of Dropbox.

Fortunately that solution already exists, and it’s already included (for free!) in every license of Smokeball. It’s a feature we call Communicate, and it’s the glue to keep members of dispersed law firms being as connected and productive as ever.

Message internally with colleagues

Communicate allows Smokeball-using members of a law firm to chat internally, and direct message one another, directly in the app, or on an iOS or Android app. Like all text input in Smokeball, the messages are saved, archived, and fully searchable.

Best of all, these conversations can be saved directly to relevant matters. This way, for instance, if you’re talking to your colleague Bob about Matter X, your conversation will get saved from Communicate directly to Matter X. You can review its contents at a later time as well as tally the time spent chatting to the billable hours for that matter.

Click image to view larger.

However, when you and Bob chat about Matter Y, with a simple click that chat then gets saved to that matter, with all of the functionality described above. Same two people, same Communicate tool, but information only saved where it matters.

All of your messages are not only kept internal (no third-party apps, no extra clicks), but they are secure, too, experiencing the same high level of security you can expect with the rest of your Smokeball experience.

Attorney and client communication on an iPhone via Smokeball's Communicate app.

Message externally with clients

Whether your team is in the office or working from home, clients still expect consistent access to their case and files. By using a downloadable Communicate app, you can give your clients 24/7 access to their matters, thus increasing your transparency and ultimately your reputation.

Many cloud-based legal software providers boast of having a client portal. However, these browser-based pages are often clunky, difficult to navigate, and not updated in real-time. With the free Communicate app (your clients don’t have to be Smokeball users), your clients can see everything you share with them as it relates to their matters. No longer will you have clients texting you for updates, and with the direct message function already described, you can send them communication directly relevant to pressing matters.

What separates this function from simply using an app like iMessage is that Communicate is both secure and without file size limits. Share entire matters with clients, confident in their delivery and security.

Better than email

Smokeball users already know that every message in Outlook automatically saves to relevant matters. This all-in-one functionality is one of the benefits of our hybrid cloud platform that none of our competitors enjoy.

However, emails from clients can often come with different subject lines and from different addresses, making even our core integration at times onerous to wade through. By using Communicate, however, every message is saved, archived, and fully searchable, making returning to a conversation a breeze. And while it sounds trivial, doing away with the customary subjects, salutations, and sign-offs actually does add up, ultimately adding to your productivity and time in your personal life.

Communicate is the virtual communal table that your law firm can gather around each day and for each matter. Never miss a conversation by utilizing this feature that is already hiding in plain sight on Smokeball.

Not a Smokeball user? Let us show you Communicate today.

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