Friday, November 16, 2018, was a busy day at Smokeball’s Chicago offices.  It was a day to celebrate 2018, a year of giving and a year of supporting worthy causes.  Two big events took place at Smokeball’s offices. First, the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) brought a group of legal professionals to Smokeball for training on Smokeball’s practice management products.  Smokeball supports CALA with free Smokeball licenses for their work fighting injustice in the community. Second, Smokeball hosted its annual holiday party for its clients and partners. This year, Smokeball chose to beat the holiday office party rush and hold a gathering before Thanksgiving as part of a Month of Thanks to its clients.  Both events on Friday were a hit, so here’s a bit more about them!

CALA Training

The Community Activism Law Alliance’s stated goal is to change legal aid for the better.  The organization seeks to reinvent how law and society interact: “We are changing how lawyers and communities work together. Our model, ‘community activism lawyering,’ unites lawyers and activists to help underserved communities access justice and pursue social change. We create community activism-law programs for, by, with, and within our partner communities.”  This mission is a difficult one, especially now, and Smokeball is a proud partner of CALA, providing case management software to the group for free. CALA’s Executive Director, Lam Nguyen Ho, recently wrote to express “huge appreciation for Smokeball and how it has really enabled us to serve over 10,000 people directly in their communities who are ineligible for, or otherwise struggle, to access legal aid from other organizations (undocumented immigrants, day laborers, sex workers, and grassroots activists).”

Friday’s training session at the Smokeball office was a chance to work directly with many of the lawyers and other legal professionals utilizing Smokeball each day to accomplish these amazing goals.  CALA professionals truly use all parts of Smokeball software. The training day started with lunch and then flowed into a Q&A session. Trainer Jessica Robinson and Onboarding Specialist Lydia Otey were so pleased to answer pointed questions about all the ways Smokeball can help CALA become more efficient for its clients.  A break followed so that attendees could see the Smokeball offices – the snack stash was a big hit. The day ended with in-depth document automation training, a staple of Smokeball’s platform and one that makes attorneys immeasurably more efficient and productive.  When leaving, Lam made sure to repeat his appreciation, saying, “We can’t imagine doing our work without you guys!” It was a gratifying start to a day of celebration.  Some CALA folks even returned a few hours later for Smokeball’s annual holiday party!

Holiday Party

A highlight of the year for Smokeball’s employees is this opportunity to meet and celebrate with clients at the company’s headquarters.  The party was meant to thank Smokeball clients for their loyalty and help over the years. Smokeball delivers great service and a great product to its clients because of the input from early adopters and loyal local users.  Also in attendance were partners similar to CALA, with the Justice Entrepreneurship Project represented by its Director, Trevor Clarke.

Food flew and drinks flowed as Smokeball’s offices transformed into a fall/winter fest with conversation and merriment all around.  Parting gifts for all in attendance were homemade and hand-decorated cupcakes from Amanda Wiszus, Smokeball’s resident semi-pro baker extraordinaire.  The event was a perfect cap on November as Smokeball’s Month of Thanks, and a perfect wrap-up to Smokeball’s Season of Giving, which raised nearly $10,000 for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children).