Several years ago, the attorneys and staff at Hofheimer Family Law, a Virginia Beach, Virginia-based family law firm that represents women-only in divorce, custody, and support cases, came together to decide their current technology stack was not meeting their firm’s needs.
Previously, firm members had to look in one system for calendar appointments, one place for accounting, and another system for the general ledger, which the team realized was not the most efficient approach to practice management solutions and running the firm.
At the time, the team made the decision to wait until the cloud-based practice management software market matured to the point there was a product available that met the firm’s list of requirements. Finally, in November 2019, Hofheimer Family Law was introduced to Centerbase and never looked back.
Though right out of the box, Centerbase didn’t necessarily meet every one of the firm’s needs, the Centerbase team was willing to work with them to meet those requirements, which was the push the Hofheimer team needed to become a Centerbase client.
“It’s nice to know that Centerbase listens to a single firm, understands their challenges, and makes solutions happen,” said Rob Sadler, Hofheimer’s Firm Administrator.
Having a successful data migration was imperative for the firm’s success. Shortly after 20 years’ worth of accumulated practice management, time, billing, and accounting data were migrated successfully into Centerbase, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Thanks to the ease of the data migration and introduction to Centerbase, members of the Hofheimer team were able to transition smoothly to a remote work environment, enabling their attorneys and professional staff alike to continue with uninterrupted client service and firm operations from home.
It’s nice to know that Centerbase listens to a single firm, understands their challenges, and makes solutions happen.
“Centerbase is seamless, from home to office,” says Sheera Herrell, the firm’s Managing Partner.
Thanks to Centerbase’s desktop and mobile app versions, timekeepers can track their time at the courthouse, in the car, or in the office.
Hofheimer’s attorneys note that time tracking is user-friendly wherever you are and that the Automated Time Capture feature is especially handy if working remotely. As a result, more hours are being tracked, leading to seamless and more accurate firm billing.
However, the real winning feature of Centerbase, according to Herrell, is Secure Chat.
“There is a heavy value from non-responsive clients,” says Herrell. “We often run into clients who won’t answer phone calls but will respond to texts. With Secure Chat, our attorneys don’t have to use their personal cell phone numbers to interact with clients.”
With Secure Chat, these interactions are preserved in Centerbase as a system of record, which is great for cross-collaboration on matters, enabling any user at the firm to go back and reference the client interaction for the most up to date information on the case.
Centerbase’s unique practice management features help Hofheimer communicate effectively and thanks to the client portal, it’s easier than ever for their attorneys to share readily available information with clients.
The (entire) team at Centerbase is great to work with across the board. From development to support, the client-facing teams are fantastic whether you’re picking up the phone, putting in a ticket, or working with the greater Centerbase community to see if others have had the same issues or ideas.
“Centerbase makes it fun and easy to do everything I do every day,” says Sadler.
Thanks to Centerbase’s reporting capabilities, Sadler has transformed how he manages the firm.
During the search for a new practice management solution, Sadler and his team utilized a third-party consultant and received the feedback that Centerbase was the best in the industry at listening to client needs and coming up with viable solutions and workarounds within the software.
“The (entire) team at Centerbase is great to work with across the board. From development to support, the client-facing teams are fantastic whether you’re picking up the phone, putting in a ticket, or working with the greater Centerbase community to see if others have had the same issues or ideas,” Sadler says.
Now, thanks to Centerbase’s dashboards, Sadler is no longer waiting until month-end to have access to the information he needs. Instead, with the help of both dashboards and reporting features, the firm has access to real-time information at a glance. These capabilities, according to Sadler, shifted his perspective on how he views law firm dashboards and reporting, and have streamlined the way he runs firm operations.
“All of the information we need is right at our fingertips; we are able to access client accounts and trust account balances instantly, which is very helpful as trials and settlements get closer.”
We’re saving time and paper while gaining time and revenue, all thanks to Centerbase.
As Hofheimer’s Controller, Jamie Mesta handles all of the firm’s finances.
“All of the money that comes in and out goes through me and it is easier than ever to do my job thanks to Centerbase,” she says.
With Centerbase’s electronic pre-bill feature, Mesta saves six hours a month that she otherwise would have spent creating bills manually.
According to Mesta, the pre-bill feature has revolutionized how Hofheimer’s attorneys and paralegals handle the billing process.
Now, both timekeeping and reviewing bills take less time and are easier for professionals to accomplish. The firm does not utilize timesheets anymore and is capturing more time than ever. That time is money, according to Mesta.
An added bonus? The firm now saves several trees a year since moving to Centerbase.
“We’re saving time and paper while gaining time and revenue, all thanks to Centerbase,” Mesta said.
Starting your own business is no easy task. Lisa Newman knows this better than most.
When she left her previous law firm to open Lisa Newman Law, PLLC in May 2021, one of her first orders of business was finding the right legal technology for her new estate planning and probate firm.
Luckily, she didn’t have to search too far; her previous firm had found Centerbase through word of mouth three years prior and had been a client for just as long.
Prior to Centerbase, Lisa and her partner at the time utilized a separate standalone computer with a note-taking application that was so old it couldn’t even run on a Windows program. Despite the software’s antiquated features, they were still hesitant to switch to a new solution, as they knew where their information was stored and were happy with the number of fields the older program was able to track. However, they knew a system upgrade was probably in order to keep their firm running efficiently.
After onboarding with Centerbase, the implementations team worked with Lisa’s old firm to create a custom, out-of-the-box Notes solution just for the firm with all of the fields necessary to track client and matter information in one central location, which she called a “huge improvement” over their previous software.
After three years at her previous firm, Lisa knew she could expect a customizable, cloud-based practice management and billing platform in Centerbase, and when one of her newly hired associates pushed for the software as well, it was a no-brainer to her to implement it at Lisa Newman Law.
Implementation specialists often assume their clients know technical jargon, but “Centerbase spoke in simple terms and did what they said they would do,” Lisa notes.
Throughout the process, her implementations team clearly identified the next steps and according to Lisa, “(they) exhibited diligence and caution, which put my mind at ease and laid a smooth foundation for the rest of the onboarding and training process.”
So much so, that when Lisa got the opportunity to meet her implementation specialist, Alex, in person, “I hugged her and gave her a gift to thank her for all of her help,” Lisa says with a laugh.
Personal touches with Centerbase do not stop there. Lisa also points to reporting as another feature of the software where she enjoys taking advantage of the customization options available to her through Centerbase.
She has talked to her designated account manager on more than one occasion to create custom reports, specifically related to billing.
“I like that I can tell Centerbase exactly what I need and they create the report for me,” explains Lisa.
The Centerbase implementation specialist spoke in simple terms and did what they said they would do. They clearly identified next steps and exhibited both diligence and caution, which put my mind at ease and laid a smooth foundation for the rest of the onboarding and training process.
These days, it’s pretty much business as usual for Lisa Newman Law as the team continues to get up to speed in the new firm.
Empowered with custom note-taking and financial reporting features, Lisa is able to complete her own billing and print pre-bills in-house.
A self-proclaimed handwritten list fan, (yes, they still exist!) Lisa can get the best of both worlds by writing her daily completed tasks on a notepad and later entering them into the system.
Thanks to the hassle-free timekeeping integrations within Outlook and the mobile app, Lisa is able to ensure she remembers everything she worked on throughout the course of her day.
“That is real money that could be missed out on for my firm if not billed in a timely manner,” says Lisa.
Lisa estimates that between the customized aspects and the timekeeping feature she utilizes daily, she cuts down on 10 hours of busy work a month (roughly two a week) using Centerbase and instead is able to focus that energy on capturing more billable time.
As with any law firm, change is often imminent. Soon, Lisa Newman Law will be moving to a flat fee billing arrangement.
With Centerbase, she is confident this shift in billing procedures will go off without a hitch.
“I feel certain that someone will be able to explain (that) in a simple to understand way and that we will be able to get up to speed quickly with flat fees. Centerbase listens to my needs and always finds a solution.”
When Jim Zadeh started his own personal injury law firm in 2002, he was immediately on the lookout for the ideal integrated accounting software solution on a web-based platform.
After spending the previous years of his career at two Texas firms, he knew a thing or two about what aspects of software worked well for full-service litigation firms and what did not. His knowledge of case management software doesn’t stop there; Jim even teaches a Law Practice Management class at Texas A&M University School of Law and requires each law student to create a business plan encompassing marketing and technology best practices for firms.
Jim initially went with a platform called Time Matters, due in part to the billing component of the system. Several years after the implementation, Jim heard the dreaded news you never want to hear when working with software companies – “we’re selling to a larger company.” Soon after this announcement, Time Matters stopped updating their software, rendering it unusable for Jim’s needs.
He knew it was time to switch practice management software companies and began to evaluate several options that all had various problems that would not work for his firm: they weren’t web-based, there was a clunky link to QuickBooks, double entries/extra steps were required, etc.
Just as Jim was beginning to give up hope that there was not a legal practice management software out there that could meet his needs, his consultant introduced him to Centerbase.
The strong accounting component, the ease of integration into our current system(s), and the fact it was web-based made switching to Centerbase a relatively seamless transition.
When Jim had his first demo of Centerbase software, he described it as simply “too good to be true” for his firm’s needs.
“The strong accounting component, the ease of integration into our current system(s), and the fact it was web-based made switching to Centerbase a relatively seamless transition,” Jim recalled.
Soon after implementation, Jim attended a trade show in Grapevine, Texas, where he was able to meet members of the Centerbase team, including CEO John Forbes, face to face.
But the personal touches like the trade show interaction don’t stop there, according to Jim.
“It’s nice to actually have a person you know on the other end of the phone,” he shared, reflecting on the fact that though relationship managers for his other vendors have changed frequently over the years, his contacts at Centerbase have not only stayed relatively consistent, but account managers have proactively reached out to him to address issues on more than one occasion.
It’s nice to actually have a person you know on the other end of the phone. Our contact(s) at Centerbase have not only stayed relatively consistent, but account managers have proactively reached out to us on more than one occasion to address issues.
Over the years Jim has added two attorneys and several legal assistants to his law office team. When COVID-19 prompted his staff to work from home indefinitely, productivity substantially increased.
“Had we had a server-based system and not Centerbase, we would have been dead in the water in 2020,” notes Jim. “We were very fortunate that we had just finished Workflow training with the Centerbase team and our entire staff was able to transition to working from home seamlessly due to the cloud-based functionality of the software.”
Despite a pandemic, the Zadeh Firm was able to operate business as usual. Jim and his staff were able to efficiently utilize the Notes functionality to stay on top of the status of cases remotely and see what other members of the team were working on.
Like many other companies, the team held video staff meetings twice a week, during which they would utilize the Centerbase calendar feature to ensure everyone was on the same page with meeting client deadlines.
The usefulness of the Workflow feature does not stop at remote work, according to Jim. Now that his team is more or less back at the office, the workflow and integrated accounting solutions set up in tandem with the Centerbase support team saves Jim’s team 3-4 hours a week and has significantly increased the number of settlements the firm is able to process.
Potential new clients (PNCs) are impressed by the PNC Workflow utilized by the firm, which automatically runs conflict checks and sets reminders on case deadlines throughout the lifecycle of a matter.
Just as he did when he first started out, Jim still independently manages all accounting for the firm, including writing checks and paying bills. With the financial data (and subsequent reporting) all in one place thanks to Centerbase, he is able to easily work with a monthly bookkeeper and a CPA come tax season.
Jim and his team plan to continue to embrace Centerbase’s customer-first approach and take advantage of all the software has to offer. While they have been fortunate to have a steady stream of business, Jim points to the marketing features as interesting and something his firm has not been able to explore.
“I love everything about Centerbase and hope to utilize more of its capabilities in the months to come.”