Client advocacy isn’t confined to the courtroom. Clients and attorneys start building a bond of trust the moment they first meet, and it’s this trust that forms the foundation of great legal advocacy.
For an attorney to best advocate for their client, they both must be honest with one another. A client who does not trust their client may be dishonest with their attorney or may conceal critical material facts of their case, hindering the attorney’s advocacy.
Technology also has a role to play when it comes to building client-attorney trust. When it comes to Smokeball specifically, we want our all-in-one platform to serve as your one-stop shop for communication and record-keeping.
Timely, effective client communication
The primary complaint many clients have about their attorneys: a lack of communication. During the progression of a case, which can sometimes inch along at a snail’s pace, attorneys may fail to update their clients on a regular basis. It can be months before a client hears back from their attorney, and client-attorney trust erodes with every passing day.
Smokeball helps with this problem on several fronts. First, our Communicate feature and dedicated app serve as a command center for client communications. The fully encrypted portal allows clients and attorneys to message one another directly and securely. It functions just like the everyday text messaging clients are accustomed to — without sharing your personal mobile number.
While Communicate helps attorneys speak with their clients quickly, Smokeball’s workflow tools empower and remind attorneys to reach out regularly. By setting up automated Matter Stages functionality, attorneys can quickly send a Communicate message when a client’s matter moves into a new phase of the legal process. Clients feel informed about their cases, and not one piece of important communication falls through the cracks.
And because every message sent through Communicate or via email is automatically tied to your client’s matter within Smokeball, you’ll never misplace a single piece of communication, so you’ll always have the information you need to be the best possible client advocate.
Contemporaneous Time Tracking
There’s more than one way client trust can be tested by incomplete information. If a client receives a bill with incomplete or vague time entries, they likely won’t understand the work that was done, and will become frustrated and mistrustful.
Often, when a time entry is vague, it is because the attorney likely did not bill that time entry contemporaneously, or on the same day the work was performed. Indeed, attorneys often complete their billing days, or even weeks, later.
The attorney cannot recapture all the details related to those entries, and accordingly, the client is billed for an inaccurate representation of actual work and may feel their attorney is padding their time or overcharging.
Smokeball turns these risky billing practices into a thing of the past. Our automatic time-tracking technology means any work completed in Smokeball, including documents created and emails sent using Microsoft Word and Outlook, are billed to the associated client matter, down to the minute. Those automated time entries are then transferred seamlessly to client invoices, along with the appropriate notes.
With accurate, contemporaneous billing every time, clients gain more confidence and trust in their attorneys. As a result, attorneys provide better advocacy for their clients, every time.
Mark Petrolis serves as senior account manager and in-house counsel at Smokeball. He earned his J.D. at The John Marshall Law School at University of Illinois Chicago.