Daniel Rivas is perhaps one of the most well-known Smokeball employees by our current clients.  Daniel is one of the helpful soothing voices on the other end of the phone when something needs to be fixed.  He not only has all the right things to say when things are going seemingly awry, he is a tech wiz with the right answers to computer problems as well.  Whether it’s taking a tech call with a smile or answering client tickets at 8PM on a Friday night, Daniel is our Smokeball clients’ man on the inside. He is one of the longest-tenured members of our Chicago-based Client Support Team (a/k/a the helpdesk), and it was my privilege to sit down and discuss a few Smokeball and non-Smokeball topics with him for this month’s Smokeball Spotlight Series.

Daniel came to Smokeball law practice management software itself almost by accident.  Daniel arrived at Smokeball via a temp agency after spending much of 2015 and 2016 working on a Senate primary campaign.  He began at Smokeball in Sales as a Business Development Representative, and due to his outgoing and roll-off-your-back nature was asked if helpdesk was something he might transition to.  “I knew almost nothing about computers at that time,” he remembered. He offered to learn as much as the current team was willing to teach him, and the rest is history! Daniel now holds some of the best encyclopedic knowledge of Smokeball and various computer fixes at the company.  His current helpdesk team is what keeps him excited to come to Smokeball each day: “Even through difficult issues, my team keeps laughing and having fun, and it’s a great environment to be in. It’s just a very supportive place.”

A native of Minnesota (and Vikings fan to the core), Daniel has been in Chicago for a while.  He did his undergraduate studies in Social Policy and History at Northwestern University. As mentioned above, before coming to Smokeball Daniel worked in politics, beginning with political fundraising.  Directly out of Northwestern he worked for the Human Rights Campaign and co-directed a local office of fundraisers. He managed training, hiring and accounting, and led groups out into Chicago to raise money.  Thereafter, Daniel worked on a 2016 Senate primary campaign in the area. Daniel continues to keep a close eye on everything political.

In his free time, Daniel likes to do all things social: hang out with friends, go out in his neighborhood of Wicker Park, and especially play Pokemon Go on his phone.  Daniel’s dedication to Pokemon Go has even extended to making it his exercise routine. “Fun fact: the app tells you how far you’ve gone playing the game, and I’ve actually walked the distance of Chicago to L.A. playing,” he laughed.  It’s an activity he also enjoys sharing with colleagues at Smokeball on the weekends.

With all his hard work at Smokeball, Daniel enjoys time off to travel.  Each year, he spends time in Fort Myers, Florida with his mom. “It’s a trip we’ve done every summer for the last 20 years,” he said.  On one of those Florida trips, he was able to catch (and safely release) a shark – Smokeball clients are nothing after that! That trip is among his favorites, but his all-time favorite visit was to Venezuela, where his family hails from, when he was younger.  “It was amazing,” he remembered.

With a high-stress and constant emergency job, I was curious to know how Daniel relaxes when he needs some peace and quiet.  “Sometimes I’ll walk all the way home to Wicker, walking along the Chicago River while listening to an album,” he said. “It’s just perfect when the sun is setting on the River,” he added.  Living in Wicker Park, one of Chicago’s most prolific restaurant neighborhoods, I asked him what his favorite Chicago food was. “Smoke Daddy,” he quickly answered, “I love a rack of ribs and mac & cheese from there.”  He also raves about Umami Burger: “Best burger I’ve ever had.” For lunch downtown by the Smokeball office, you’ll often find him at Cafecito for a Cuban pulled beef sandwich and sweet plantains – yum.

We finished our sit-down with some Smokeball chat.  Daniel’s favorite feature, and one that he enjoys showing clients while working with them on the phone, is Document Automation.  “It’s probably the slickest most time-saving feature, and unfortunately not everyone takes advantage of it,” he noted.  “I love reminding people of it and teaching it when the opportunity arises on a call.” I asked him why every small firm owner should at least take a look at Smokeball, and his response was quick. “Just so you can practice law and not do all the extra stuff,” he began.  “Stop wasting time on the monotonous drafting, etcetera, and get out of the office more than you normally would!” Sounds great to us, Daniel – maybe with more lawyers on Smokeball you’ll have more company walking along the River in the evenings.

We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about one of our most valued employees.  To learn more about Smokeball’s epic workforce and all things legal and legal tech, keep an eye on our Smokeball Blog.  To learn about how Smokeball helps small firms ease their stress and increase their success, schedule a free demo today!