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How to Effectively Track My Return on Investment for a Small Law Firm and Cost per Case

Noel Peel

Written by

Noel Peel


March 1, 2018


Running a small law firm and being an attorney is like having two full-time jobs. At Smokeball, we understand that when you started your law firm, you wanted to practice the law and maintain ownership at the same time. But how do you do that efficiently when you don’t have the time to review your return on investments such as marketing and advertising, staffing, overhead, and other costs that are lost in the shuffle?

It’s difficult enough to sit down and spend 3 hours of your week to reviewing and recording all the time spent on each particular matter. You’re most likely backtracking your emails, estimating how long it took you to prepare a document or form, checking your recent call history or even the time you’ve spent researching. This wasn’t part of your job description but you know it’s the only way you’ll get paid.

As a small law firm and a business owner, you have the ethical obligation to be transparent with your client and if you find yourself in a fee dispute or disciplinary complaint, you want to have that complete record readily available to help you resolve those issues. It doesn’t matter if you charge a flat, fixed fee or work on contingency, you have to keep track of everything you do. But what if there was a way to instantly generate a report to tell you exactly how much you made on a particular matter? Or better yet, how much time you spent directly on a matter based on all the emails, documents, phone calls and research you and your entire staff has put into that case?

Instead of guessing the time you’ve spent on your activities, why not let the power of technology tools such as Smokeball, automatically do it for you. Imagine what your year will look like if you began tracking and comparing your law firm’s efforts closely and base business decisions on that data. You would have the opportunity to increase your law firm’s business and focus on your law firm’s strengths. Gain more confidence in your business decisions by leveraging accurate information about where you’re spending your time and money in you law firm.  If you’re practicing both family and real estate law, you may think that your real estate matters are profiting more, but in reality, if you look closely at the total time spent, your staff costs and the amount you get paid, then perhaps dealing with one pre-decree case is equivalent to taking on 3 closings that you normally tackle. How would you determine that?

You can track how much time each staff member has spent on each case and what the profit margin is when your firm has completed the case. It’s hard to keep track of all the staff members working on a particular case let alone the specifics without the right tools. Learn more about Smokeball’s Automatic Time Keeping feature.

At a click of a button, you can generate a report in Smokeball and you’ll be able to see exactly each day, each week, and specific information on how much time your entire law firm has spent on a particular matter. As a result, you can charge more appropriately and see how valuable your firm really is.


Smokeball’s automatic time-tracking feature allows you the freedom to continue practicing law without the hassle of tracking your time on a time-sheet. Smokeball automatically tracks your time for you by relating back to the matters you’re working on. Using Smokeball’s Activity Intelligence, you can review every detail of activity related to a matter with each specific staff member. Print out the report in seconds and prove with confidence the value you’re delivering to your clients. Smokeball lets you instantly see the profitability of a matter in real-time, analyze the time you and your staff has spent on the matter, review fees billed, and calculate the costs of each person to generate real-time profitability.

It’s simple, with Smokeball you and your team can assemble your  documents in minutes with our automated form library of over 12,000 documents and forms. Based on the client information you input into Smokeball, it automatically prefills your client’s data into any document or form you draft. After clicking close and save, that document is saved back into the matter’s digital file and you can email your client that document within seconds using Smokeball.

Traditionally, when determining your Return On Investments for your small law firm, you’re required to start by gathering all the smaller details first, such as what you’ve budgeted and spent. Then you must collect additional data on how many people you think you may have communicated with or reached. Divide that number over the cost you’ve incurred for your small law firm. Then you need to review how many new clients or responses you captured within the same time-frame you budgeted and that will provide you the return on investments for your small law firm to monitor and track each month to make changes based on your findings.

Doesn’t that sound daunting? Well it’s a lot of generating reports as well as ensuring you have the most accurate data. But with Smokeball, you get a report within minutes to review and make your decision based on your findings. You’ll see how valuable you are as an individual as well as the firm on a case-by-case basis. Start tracking your return on investments for your small law firm more effectively and feel more confident making business decisions based on the data you collect. Read Above the Law’s review on Auto:Time.

Smokeball Auto:Time

Do you want to position your law firm for success? Start with the right tools that make it a little easier to make tough decisions. Smokeball is your partner to help you manage, track and analyze everything you need to do to practice law. Start today by getting a personalized demo specifically to help meet your goals.

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