Elias Law Group did not exist as a law firm on September 1, 2021.
On September 2, 2021, 74 attorneys and 25 administrative staff members left an Am Law 100 firm to start the Elias Law Group, a litigation, political law, and campaign finance firm, bringing 600 clients and over 1,000 matters with them on day 1 of operations.
They were up and running on day 1 with seamless billing and timekeeping, all thanks to the relationship with Centerbase that was cultivated only six weeks prior.
Hannah Eaves, the Managing Partner at Elias, estimates that her first conversation with Centerbase was in mid-July 2021.
Due to limitations with legal practice, Eaves and her team were only able to discuss limited information with the Centerbase team, and what they were able to discuss was confidential and incomplete in nature.
“To go from that initial conversation to signing a contract to full implementation to launch in less than six weeks was heroic,” she says. “What the Centerbase sales and implementation teams did for us in August and September of 2021 was epic.”
Eaves called Centerbase coming through for Elias as the firm was launched, “the hallmark of our relationship.”
As Eaves and her team coordinated launch of firm activities like health care plans, 401Ks, and creating email addresses and phone numbers for all employees, the Centerbase implementation team worked in overdrive to ensure Elias would have seamless billing on the first day of the firm’s operations.
And, the team succeeded. Elias Law Group was able to get 99% of its bills out on time during the first billing cycle following the launch in the middle of October.
“To go from that initial conversation to signing a contract to full implementation to launch in less than six weeks was heroic. What the Centerbase sales and implementation teams did for us in August and September 2021 was epic.”
Billing and Timekeeping
“The strength of Centerbase’s software is the billing,” says Eaves.
Chanel Lawrence, Accounting Manager, agrees.
“I live in Centerbase’s billing and timekeeping features from the moment I sign on to work in the morning to the moment I sign off at night,” she says. “From editing time entries to revising bills to generating and approving pre-bills and generating invoices, Centerbase does it all.”
The feature Lawrence loves most, however, is the ability to email invoices to clients directly through Centerbase.
Previously, she had to manually email out 600-800 invoices a month. The ability to do this directly on the platform saves her hours a month.
This also aids in a faster turnaround for clients paying Elias, due in part to the option to pay by credit card.
Another feature Lawrence loves is the pre-bill approval process. The edits and changes made by the attorney responsible for the matters are easy to see and make for a seamless process.
For the features that Lawrence needs support with, she’s always been able to get the help she needs from Centerbase’s client service team.
“My experience with customer service has always been great,” she says. ‘I’ve never felt like my issues weren’t important.”
Both Eaves and Lawrence maintain that Centerbase is a very good software for timekeeping and billing, in addition to being very user-friendly with an easy-to-work-with support team.
When asked what she likes most, Eaves said, “It gets the bills out, so we get paid.”
So simple, but what’s better than that?
Over the years, Holtzman Vogel has grown from a small firm to a firm with over 30 active attorneys in four locations. As the firm grew in size, there was one thing the team could agree on: they needed to upgrade to a cloud-based practice management system with more complex time tracking, billing, and integrated accounting features than their system at the time, Harvest, was able to offer.
John Brining, the firm’s Controller, and his team evaluated eight different practice management solutions before implementing Centerbase in May 2020.
“Other systems were trying to sell their product to us instead of actually listening to what I wanted in a software,” Brining recalls. “The sales team at Centerbase actually listened to what solutions I wanted and their direct responses put my mind at ease.”
Due to how quickly the firm was growing, another major selling point of Centerbase was that the per-user fee was reasonable for all of the features provided.
Holtzman Vogel’s investment has paid off. To this day, Brining maintains that Centerbase is “very good” from a cost standpoint, noting that isn’t cost-prohibitive to add users or expand the system’s capabilities as more attorneys and staff come on board.
“Quick responses from the customer support team are Centerbase’s ‘bread and butter.’ When I want something done, they get (it) done the same day.”
According to Brining, the implementation process was a smooth one, with the Centerbase project manager and implementation specialist outlining an easy-to-understand schedule of when the transition from Harvest to Centerbase would take place.
“The team provided clear direction on when they were going to get started and we were always kept in the loop on the timing and hours needed to get the process completed,” Brining recalls.
He called the implementations process a “collaborative effort” and provided a pro-tip to future Centerbase customers: be prepared to participate in the undertaking: “the new system is only going to be as good as what you put into it. You have to provide your own data for the system to work properly.”
Following the transition, Holtzman Vogel encountered an issue with the way their invoices were displayed, and the Centerbase team jumped into action to get the problem handled smoothly.
This quick response is Centerbase’s “bread and butter” according to Brining. “When I want something done, the customer support team gets it done the same day.”
The responsiveness of the entire client service team at Centerbase has been crucial to Holtzman Vogel’s success with the software. As the firm continues to grow and add additional timekeepers to the system, Centerbase’s team gets the new users into the software within 24 hours, enabling new employees to onboard and get up to speed as quickly as possible.
“The ability to honor client preferences and bill them in different ways has absolutely increased our client satisfaction. With Centerbase, we’re able to provide accurate data that you can count on.”
Timekeeping and Billing
Holtzman Vogel timekeepers love how easy tracking time is on the Centerbase mobile app. “They love that they can use it on the fly,” says Donna Smith, Billing Administrator. “The fact that they’re spending less time actually entering time is invaluable to them.”
“I often hear from our attorneys how much easier it is to track time in Centerbase,” continued Smith. “The consistency of the ease of timekeeping firmwide has enabled us to see incremental gains on monthly billable hours.” With 35 attorneys and paralegals at Holtzman Vogel spending less time tracking billable events, they’re able to submit their monthly billable hours faster.
Timekeepers aren’t the only ones who benefit from the ease of use of the time tracking features in Centerbase. Since the time is getting in sooner every month, Smith is able to easily create and distribute all hourly billing invoices for group leaders and the Managing Partner to review. Following their review and edits, there is the added bonus of being able to send out multiple finalized invoices at the same time electronically, which according to Smith is “stellar” and a “huge time saver.”
This extra time has also enabled her to send out retainer invoices first without waiting for any time entries. The firm is now starting to receive retainer payments in the middle of the following month when previously, it would take almost a full month to receive these payments. Smith estimates that with Centerbase’s billing features, Holtzman Vogel has increased their cash flow each month by almost 100%.
When new attorneys joined Holtzman Vogel’s Tallahassee office from another firm, they had a client that required a bill to be split 76 ways. Smith had never encountered such a complicated billing structure, generally having dealt with only flat fees and less intricate split bills. Upon receiving the request, the Centerbase team sprung into action to get a workaround for this split bill arrangement into place.
Additionally, Holtzman Vogel has another client who requests to see all of the time and billing entries for their retainer every month, and Smith was able to work with the Centerbase team to get a solution in place in the system to provide the client with that information.
“The ability to honor client preferences and bill them in different ways has absolutely increased our client satisfaction,” Smith says. “We’re able to provide accurate data that you can count on.”
When Holtzman Vogel needed assistance with customizing their billing templates to accommodate alternative structures, the billing team’s first point of contact was their dedicated client success manager at Centerbase, who was able to connect them with the right person to help with their request.
“One of the selling points for me has been the responsiveness of the Support team,” says Brining.
Smith agrees; she is frequently in contact with both support and her client success manager and has been impressed with the speed at which they are able to get back to her inquiries. In spite of this, she has taken it upon herself to learn as much about Centerbase as she can and frequently attends the Thursday training webinars put on by the client success team.
When she is unable to attend a session, her client success manager proactively sends her links to the webinars she missed, which has proved invaluable for her to go back and refer to a recording when trying to learn how to do something new in the system.
Little touches like this are what make Centerbase so great, according to Smith. “I love the program and I can’t wait until I know it inside and out,” she says.
When asked if she had any advice for potential Centerbase clients, Smith doesn’t beat around the bush. “Don’t make the mistake of getting another program. Get Centerbase. It does it all.”
Brining, who has served as a reference to many firms looking to buy Centerbase, agrees: “it just works, which is exactly what you want a legal practice management software to do.”
“Don’t make the mistake of getting another program. Get Centerbase. It does it all.”
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.
If you’re a sports fan, you’re probably familiar with the Philadelphia 76ers’ former mantra, “Trust the Process.” The phrase went on to be used in hip-hop music and even by a politician, but did you know it also relates to law firms buying cloud-based practice management software?
When Gonser and Gonser, PA, a Delaware-based law firm specializing in criminal, family, real estate, and estate law, received a cold call from a sales representative at Centerbase just as they began their journey of evaluating new technology, they too decided it was time to trust the process and switch to a cloud-based solution.
With one office located in Dover housing the main server and three other offices (Wilmington, Georgetown, and West Chester, PA) considered “remote” utilizing Time Matters through Citrix remote access, the growing firm knew switching to cloud-based software was the best way forward.
Then, March 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic happened. Problems arose quickly when employees in all four office locations were attempting to access the server remotely. These problems, paired with the lack of support help the firm was receiving from Time Matters, pushed Gonser and Gonser to evaluate other software options as quickly as possible.
After evaluating Centerbase and some competitors, the firm felt that Centerbase was “far and away the best option,” according to Aimee Gannon, Legal Operations Manager.
“We wanted a system that would meet us where we were at the time, but would also grow with us,” Gannon continued. “We were looking for an option that would not only benefit our clients, but also provide work-life balance for employees, and Centerbase enables us to do both.”
Lack of help from support at Time Matters was one of the first indicators to the firm it was time for a software change. The Gonser and Gonser team was adamant during the software evaluation process (and eventual implementation process) that communication and strong support would be two of the deciding factors in the selection of their new vendor.
Additionally, they were assured by the Centerbase team that the implementation team had previously completed a data migration from Time Matters for another firm, which made them feel even more comfortable with the ultimate decision to switch to Centerbase.
The implementation team was “big on deadlines” says Gannon, and stayed in touch regarding when data and information needed to be added to the system.
The communication and responsiveness have not stopped now that Gonser and Gonser is a Centerbase client.
“We made the right choice switching to Centerbase,” Gannon said. “I appreciate how responsive the entire support team is. It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to in the department, you know that you will be in good hands.”
We made the right choice switching to Centerbase. I appreciate how responsive the entire support team is. It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to in the department, you know that you will be in good hands.
Now that the firm is up and running with Centerbase, every employee at the firm uses the timekeeping and billing features for work across matters – and they’re already seeing a huge reduction in time spent on previously manual processes.
The firm’s previous pre-bill process required their bookkeeper to either email or print and hand-deliver bills to each attorney individually. The attorneys then made notes by hand, returned them to the bookkeeper, and the billing process continued from there. Some attorneys who carry heavy caseloads (some timekeepers have 100+ cases at any one time) could have close to 300 pages of bills to review each month.
Their bookkeeper, an independent contractor, gave the feedback that the billing process was “brutal” with tracking down attorneys for approvals. Now, thanks to electronic pre-bill, attorneys can review their bills wherever and whenever, and approvals come in in half the time.
With Centerbase, the firm transitioned to a billing workflow through Outlook, making the invoicing process easier for all parties. Previously, bills were mailed to clients. Now, invoices can be emailed to clients with the click of a button by the firm’s Accounts Manager, Chris Rainey.
The firm’s bookkeeper made a goal to get all bills out by the end of the first week of each new month. Not only has she exceeded that goal, but she’s also taken an entire day off the process as a result of using Centerbase. This is a win-win for Gonser and Gonser – they’re getting paid faster and they’re saving money by not paying an independent contractor for an additional day of work.
“Twenty minutes into sending invoices out via email, we’re already receiving calls from clients to pay their bills,” says Gannon. “We’ve seen a significant cash flow impact as a result of getting paid sooner.”
Billing isn’t the only area in which Gonser and Gonser has streamlined efficiencies with Centerbase. As a firm big on deadlines, the calendar feature keeps everyone at the firm on track. With employees in multiple locations and some still remote, finding times to meet and managing deadlines across offices used to be challenging.
“Centerbase leads our strategy day-to-day,” explains Gannon. “I have two things up on my computer at all times: email and Centerbase.”
The firm’s President, Drew Gonser, loves the added benefit of being able to work from his phone on the go using Centerbase’s mobile app. Now that some attorneys are once again appearing in person for hearings, tracking time from anywhere via the app has proved to be an invaluable feature of the software for the firm.
Thinking through their processes ahead of implementing Centerbase has been the key to Gonser and Gonser’s success with the software.
“I recommend making sure you understand your current processes, think through how to apply your full process to Centerbase, and make it come to life by enhancing your current workflows,” shares Gannon.
An added bonus of Centerbase is that it’s easier than ever for the firm to hire new employees. Onboarding is smoother and new hires are able to get up to speed with technology faster.
From training new employees to sending out bills and managing deadlines, Gonser and Gonser’s commitment to trusting the software buying process paid off with Centerbase.
Picture this: it’s February 2020, mere weeks before the legal industry, like the rest of the world, would come to face stay-at-home orders and have to quickly adapt to working in a remote environment.
Now, add to that your current server-based software system going down, with no employees at your organization able to access email or the document management system, and that sounds pretty close to the worst-case scenario.
Does this sound like your firm’s worst nightmare? This happened to Fort Worth-based, full-service law firm Griffith, Jay & Michel, LLP for 22 days.
Prior to this incapacitating system outage, firm decision-makers had already agreed their current system, Time Matters (PCLaw), had become stagnant and that the software wasn’t being updated as frequently as was needed to work for their firm’s needs. They evaluated several new software options in 2017, but ultimately tabled moving forward with implementing new technology.
However, once the system went down and impaired both their in-office and remote work capabilities, Griffith, Jay & Michel knew they were in the market for cutting ties with their server-based system and moved to implement a cloud-based legal practice management software sooner rather than later.
Griffith, Jay & Michel evaluated Clio, Zola Suite, and Centerbase before ultimately deciding that Centerbase had the capabilities they were looking for in order to run their firm the most efficiently.
Though gathering data and beginning the implementation of the software in a remote environment was a challenge in and of itself, the implementation went as smoothly as could be expected given the circumstances, according to Jennifer Landrum, the firm’s Office Manager.
After firm members began using the new software there was some need for retroactive corrections to system functionalities and how the firm was using Centerbase, which were facilitated thanks to the dedicated single point of contact on the client success team who was assigned to the firm.
Specifically, the firm requested some report customization and software adjustments. Their Client Success Manager took a look at the firm’s current processes and worked with them on a plan to achieve their goals.
Landrum personally worked with the team tasked with updating Griffith, Jay & Michel’s billing templates and was “very impressed.” “We had one Zoom call, I showed the team what I wanted, and they came back to us in two weeks with the final result, which only ended up needing minimal changes. It was exactly what we needed.”
The Centerbase team “really stepped it up” during the firm’s early stages of getting up to speed with the software, according to Landrum. “If it wasn’t for the team we worked with and the responsiveness of our Client Success Manager, I don’t know if we would still be using Centerbase today.”
The Centerbase team really stepped it up during our early stages of getting up to speed with the software. If it wasn’t for the team we worked with and the responsiveness of our Client Success Manager, I don’t know if we would still be using Centerbase today.
Landrum points to the Timekeeping feature in Centerbase as the most beloved part of the software around Griffith, Jay & Michel.
“Everyone loves this function,” she says, recalling that with their previous software, all timekeepers had to track and recreate their time manually. “There were lots of notepads and sticky notes, especially at the end of month rush to get time submitted.”
With the timer feature, Landrum estimates all professionals who bill time are capturing up to an additional 200 hours a month, which is time that would have been forgotten otherwise and not included on bills to clients.
Since Griffith, Jay & Michel attorneys are spending less of their days manually tracking time spent on emails, calls, and texts, they’re able to dedicate more time to work for their clients, resulting in even more billable hours logged each month.
“Timekeeping is by far the best feature. Time is money in this business, and thanks to Centerbase, we’re able to capture more of it faster.”
The attorneys aren’t the only ones who benefit from the significant reduction in time spent on timekeeping and related tasks. In addition to her duties as office manager, Landrum also manages the billing at the firm. Since the attorneys are submitting their time faster, she is able to get the pre-bills in front of the team earlier each month. Previously, she had to wait until the end of every month to manually correct timesheets after they were submitted, which, according to her was “very cumbersome.”
Landrum estimates it used to take her about two weeks to get billing done. Thanks to Centerbase, she saves, at minimum, three days a month on billing alone.
“It used to take me until about the 20th of the month to get all of the bills out the door,” recalls Landrum. “Today is the 13th and all bills for the month have already been sent out. That is a pretty significant reduction in time spent on both the front and back end.”
This has had a notable impact on the firm’s cash flow, according to Landrum. “We get more money in earlier every month because the bills go out faster,” she says.
“(All) the day-to-day functions of Centerbase are great,” she continued. “I find myself more efficient across the board and it takes me less time to do pretty much everything.”
As relatively new adopters of Centerbase, Griffith Jay & Michel is admittedly not yet utilizing the software to its full capability, which is something they hope to remedy in 2022 and beyond, thanks in part to the client training webinars offered weekly by Centerbase.
Landrum points to the software’s workflow and automation capabilities as the “next step” in the firm’s journey with Centerbase.
“I feel confident we’ll get there,” Landrum says. “We definitely made the right decision going with Centerbase. We’re invested in your product and are willing to do pretty much anything to grow our use of it.”
Timekeeping is by far the best feature. Time is money in this business, and thanks to Centerbase, we’re able to capture more of it faster.
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.”
In this special interview we share a view from the road to rapid growth, as seen through the eyes of John Jablonski, Managing Partner of Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady, LLP.
In 2017, six attorneys left a large firm to begin a new practice, with the vision to build and grow into a global firm with one hundred attorneys and staff laser-focused on delivering efficient legal representation to their clients.
With Managing Partner John Jablonski leading the business and technology planning, he set to work with an intimate understanding of what achieving their vision would require. In his previous role, John served as the lead Technology Partner supporting a lifecycle of technology changes, from the firm’s early days migrating from Tabs3 to Aderant, plus several other platform transitions.
These experiences equipped him with the ability to predict when Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady would ‘out-grow’ a small firm market solution, as well as understand the limitations of complex large firm systems that are cost prohibitive or hinder growth. For their new venture, John sought a cloud-based program that was also flexible enough to deliver the following:
When it comes to the ease of customization, programs that are built to suit come with an incredible level of complexity. John witnessed first-hand how the power of an application can also impact growth and efficiency. An interesting quandary – the more customizable a program was, the harder it can be to tailor it to specific law firm needs.
To compare, what used to require a developer and consultant as well as a detailed technology implementation plan can be accomplished in Centerbase within minutes, not weeks or months. John said it best, “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand how to use Centerbase.”
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand how to use Centerbase.
Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady, LLP’s vision for achieving greater efficiency in all areas is what sets it apart from their competitors. John explains that adaptability and ease of use are a necessity when it comes to achieving the law firm’s goals for continual process improvement:
“We want employees to be able to identify business process opportunities and bring them to our attention. They must feel comfortable with the system to brainstorm ways for us to continue to streamline our processes.”
With Centerbase, John and his team can build out or adjust workflows and automations with just a few clicks, a practice that is dramatically different to how traditional systems operate. “The answer for most law firms is to hire more people. More billing, accounting, or financial people – rather than improving processes. We look for technology that helps us build efficiencies into our practice.” Centerbase is a system capable of growing with organizations, including supporting a one-hundred attorney plus law firm. In John’s words; “In what I would call the ‘middle- market’ there are limited options. We looked at other providers such as Rocket Matter and Clio but knew we would quickly outgrow them. Centerbase was the solution that stood out as a system that would support our needs today and years from now.”
In what I would call the ‘middle- market’ there are limited options. We looked at other providers such as Rocket Matter and Clio but knew we would quickly outgrow them. Centerbase was the solution that stood out as a system that would support our needs today and years from now.”
The explosive growth of the firm requires John and his team to navigate new billing systems quickly. John commended the Centerbase Support Team for supporting their vision and rapid growth of users, citing a specific example around LEDESTM format billing. “Centerbase supports our vision. When our firm needed assistance creating a custom process for LEDESTM format bill submission for our clients, the Centerbase team was tremendously valuable. They dedicated time and development resources to the programming of specialty codes for our clients, now we can generate invoices and upload them in very little time. A project that has been a huge time saver for us and contributed to our firm being paid faster.”
Ease of use and support were the key to the firm’s successful implementation. Noting that migration services and training were included in the cost, John shares that the firm’s timekeepers needed very little training, which positioned the law firm to be up and running even faster than expected. Centerbase includes an extensive Certified Partner Network of over 90 of the Leading Law Firm Consultants nationwide. Expanding Centerbase’s Capabilities with Integrated Systems The more Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady uses Centerbase, the more opportunities for adaptation they identify. For example, the firm is integrating NetDocuments which will further streamline its practice through automated document filing and secure file sharing.
For law firms to attract their ideal clients, they must demonstrate a transparent process and measures of efficiency that speaks to how a matter is handled. John shares his approach to selecting technology that reflects the firm’s commitment to client service:
“How we look at Centerbase is how we look at building our entire firm. In every area of our business, we seek out the best of breed solutions that we can leverage for the benefit of our clients, from HR to accounting, practice management and more.”
A business-minded approach that has not only served the firm well but also allowed them to scale at an unprecedented rate. Instead of thinking about where they are today, they are focused on building a firm that can support where they will be ten years from now. In doing so, John and his team have proven that with the right processes and systems to support their team, three-year goals can be achieved in less than a year.