Today’s law firms are increasingly implementing customer relationship management (CRM) tools to save costs, improve efficiency, and more. Matterly is raising the bar when it comes to law firm software by offering one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly solutions on the market, built on the powerful Salesforce platform.
We recently sat down with the co-founders of Matterly, Steven Berkovitch and Ariel Bouskila, and Matterly developer Stratten Waldt to discuss why they created Matterly and how it’s changing the face of legal CRM.
Can you give us an overview of why you formed your firm BBLaw and created Matterly?
Steven: We started BBLaw back in 2015. We landed in a very unique industry, specialty financing and fintech. Our clients are in the business of financing and funding small businesses across the country through a variety of means. We started out like every good small firm, keeping track of everything in a handy spreadsheet.
Ariel: When we first started, our clients were funding lots of small businesses. Dozens of matters quickly became hundreds, and it snowballed from there. We realized we didn’t have a good way to keep track of it all – how do I know what my next tasks are? How do I follow up on the things that I need to keep track of, like court dates, due dates for discovery, and court appearances? Time tracking and billing was another big issue – we were doing that on spreadsheets as well. Now we had multiple different spreadsheets with multiple different tabs and we never knew where to look. So, we sent Steven out to a conference to look for a CRM tool.
Steven: We were looking for internal purposes as well as for our clients’ benefit. Updating them on the status of their cases had started to consume most of our day instead of actually getting work done. I was surprised at the CRM options I saw – they were very outdated. Each could only handle some of the tasks we needed and didn’t offer the integrations we wanted. We eventually found Salesforce, which allows you to custom build almost anything you want. Because our practice was so unique, we really had no choice but to build our own CRM.
Once we learned to use Salesforce and realized its benefits, we were able to build what we didn’t realize at the time was cutting-edge software. We thought it was software every law firm should have, but little did we know that we actually had something that nobody else was using and something that was really useful. I would talk to friends and realized they were trying to jerry-rig the same kind of solution from things available on the market. Our goal became to combine legal billing software, case management software, legal intake software, and document management into a single CRM product, which became Matterly.
Ariel: We realized that, not only does our software work for us in our unique space, it works as general law firm software as well.
How did you decide to go from it being an internal tool to a tool you marketed?
Steven: Pre-COVID, when unemployment was at its lowest, we were having difficulty finding office staff for administrative tasks like calendaring. We were forced at that point to use technology to fill those gaps. Once we started going down that path, we realized that, in addition to cost savings, it created efficiency and employee happiness, because no one got stuck doing mundane administrative tasks that weren’t part of their job description.
The law firm software we built was great and we kept tweaking it to make it better, aiming for full automation and complete ease of use. Eventually we realized that although the software was initially designed for our firm, and our needs it was something that every firm needed. Matterly’s role is to take all those administrative duties away from people and have them automated to expedite the completion of the tasks and promote efficiency.
Do you still use Matterly at your firm and why?
Ariel: I use it all day, every day. Our firm is still growing, and there’s only so much that can be done by hiring more administrative assistants, paralegals, or even lawyers. Matterly allows Steven and I as partners at the firm and our clients to get an overview of everything that’s happening at the same time. I can run reports and see what cases are out there. If an action was filed, I can run reports to see what my next court dates are. It helps a lot in terms of planning and organization, as well as for being able to process the amount of cases that we handle.
Stratten: The technology itself is a multiplier. We have about 20 employees right now and more than 20,000 cases in the system. We’ve successfully closed probably 1,000 cases per person over the past couple years.
Steven: I don’t think any similar firms can come close to what we do. We have an email parser that allows us to automatically take information like dates that come in emails from the court system and automatically populate them into Matterly, matched to the case’s index number or caption. We’ve partnered with a nationwide process server company to automatically collect summonses and complaints, send them out for service and trigger dates into the system. These are things that are normally done by humans at most firms, which takes time and costs money. More than that people can make mistakes and certain things caneasily get missed when you get several emails every minute from the court systems. We don’t like to miss anything.
Who can benefit the most from Matterly?
Steven: The nice thing about Matterly is that there are certain components geared toward specialty practices, but also a general platform suitable for lawyers who do standard hourly billing. We built in a time management system with time tracking capability. It’s legal billing software that really works for smaller or larger firms. You can assign specific employees to certain cases and limit access rights to cases as needed.
Management can view everybody’s time in a single report or compare users by billing and time usage. If you think matters are being overbilled or underbilled, you can compare all that information in a simple report. Another great thing is that you can give your clients access to their own files, giving them full visibility and removing guesswork when they receive bills. They can see their own court dates and receive automatic alerts for important case activity or deadlines. It’s all about being open and giving them the ability to see the information they need without having to wait for you.
Ariel: To sum up what Steven was saying, Matterly would work for any practice, whether it’s a small firm handling a large volume of cases or a large firm with hundreds of attorneys with a big case backlog. Both firms have the same issue, namely a limit to the amount of time that a person has in a day. Matterly is law firm software that gives you access to everything in one fell swoop, making it much easier for managers to manage and practitioners to practice. All its features help firms in the judgment enforcement space, general litigation, contract matters, transactional work, and more. There are always due dates, meetings, and appearances.
Stratten: Matterly does have specific, preconfigured modules for things like collections and litigation, but any new types can be added by a firm as they need them.
Why is it important that Matterly was built by lawyers?
Ariel: It’s very important that it’s built by practitioners, because we’re the ones that know what we need. Lawyers tend to speak legalese when they’re explaining what they need, and not everybody fully understands it. We understand it and we work through it. We’ve actually gone through thousands of cases from start to finish. We know what the system needs right now. At the same time, we understand that different law firms and different lawyers have different needs and different wants. It is beneficial that the software is created and being improved on by practitioners that understand the needs and wants of the end users of the product.
Can you talk a little bit about Matterly’s user interface?
Steven: Our goal was to create a simple, almost form-based layout for entering a matter. We wanted to make sure it was fully customizable to all legal needs. It’s really just about understanding what information a firm needs to open a matter. A conflicts check can take place once you enter a party’s information. The system can alert you if a party is in your system already and alert whoever’s responsible for that conflict so they can check to make sure there’s no issue and create that matter. Matters can be assigned automatically to specific people, who can set matters up the way they want, set email alerts, and set up automatic reporting. All these features are ideal for remote work scenarios. We wanted a one-stop shop where everything is stored and where a team can work together cohesively without having to call each other multiple times a day.
What does Matterly bring to CRM in terms of cost-effectiveness?
Steven: Cost-effectiveness is one of our big focuses. How many people out there today want to do case intake? Not very many, right? If you can cut it down to one person doing it or eventually to have intake fully automated, that’s our goal.
How do you handle customer service issues or feedback from clients?
Ariel: That’s one of the main ways we’re hoping to grow Matterly. We want to see what our customers are interested in, what features they like, what features they don’t like, what features they would want added to it, and then deploy them. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this whole process, it’s that everything is possible and it’s probably simpler than you think it is. And we’re trying to develop not just superior results for today, but superior results for tomorrow. We want to have the software fill in all the gaps an attorney might have. Whatever comments and feedback clients have we will definitely take.
Stratten: When we’re deploying for clients, part of the onboarding process is doing discovery calls and interviews with their stakeholders to find out what about the system needs to be adjusted, what works well, or what is slightly off but has a good foundation. We take that feedback and we implement it for them. Because of the deployment model we’ve chosen, everybody has their own instance of matter. It’s not like other software where you’re locked into what you have. When you make changes to your instance of Matterly, you’re making it your software.
Some of the things we do for the clients are very specific or not worth implementing in the core Matterly package, but some are. Certain client requests are absolutely things we’re going to bring into the core function. We might custom build certain features for a client, but then include it in the overall product going forward.
What is the most useful Matterly feature for each of you in your day-to-day work at your firm?
Ariel: My favorite feature is probably the ability to generate documents. There’s a lot of what we do that comes off of forms, letters, summonses, and complaints. They’re essentially standard forms with a few fields that need to be filled in. Matterly tracks those fields, and when you input a matter, it prepares documents at the click of a button and emails them to the client for review and verification. So, what could potentially take hours of attorney work is done in minutes, with no errors.
Steven: I’m torn between two features. Matterly has the ability to parse all the emails from the New York court system, automatically download any documents, and save them to the appropriate case file. It’s built on Salesforce, so you have the ability to access it from anywhere in the world. We also have this really awesome partnership with a postal company that can automatically send out our mail. It gives us the ability to mail documents directly from Matterly, which cuts down on human error, complete with tracking.
What features are the favorites of your clients?
Ariel: People really like the time tracking aspect of our legal billing software. They can bill different rates for different users or for specific matters. Matterly has a start/stop feature where you describe what you’re doing when you start working on something and automatically calculate the rate when you’re done based on the amount of time that you spent. An automatic billing feature allows Matterly to automatically send out invoices to clients, broken down by matter or entity. They can also set different rates for the same person within two different matters or two different clients.
Steven: It’s all about the seamless progression after using the time tracker straight to automatic billing. We also have credit card and ACH processors that you can set up at the onset of a matter.
Why should firms use CRM in general and Matterly specifically?
Steven: It may seem daunting at first, but ultimately it will save you a lot of time and headaches. It will help you in overall firm management. You can sign up for a free trial and get a feel for it to see if it’s something that actually works for you.
Stratten: We’re here to provide whatever support you need, whatever guidance or training will make Matterly work for you. Again, one of the benefits of our deployment model is that we can hold your hand through it. So, if this is your first CRM, great. We’ll onboard you and make sure you have training videos. If it’s a transition, we’ll do videos covering how it’s different from what you’re used to or how you manage the system yourself internally. If you need to add a filter or change the layout, that’s not something we need to do. It’s not the best use of our time or your money. We’ll show you how to own your own platform. People usually see law firm software as this thing they just use, but don’t own. That’s something we’re trying to change and I think we’re doing a pretty good job.
Ariel: Matterly gives you the ability to modify the fields or the layout to meet your needs. The product is easy to use even for those without a technical background.
Steven: Our belief is that no two firms are alike. Out of the box, Matterly can apply to most firms, but for a significant amount of firms there’s 10 to 15% of it that the firm is going to want to customize or tweak, and you can easily do that. It’s a big differentiator from other CRMs on the market.
Salesforce can be daunting for many law firms. Why should lawyers be using legal solutions that involve Salesforce?
Ariel: Once you get a feel for it, you’ll see that Matterly is built in the most user-friendly way possible. Salesforce is fairly simple to use once you get the hang of it. We also offer training videos that hold your hand through the entire process. Try it free for 30 days and see what you think. There’s no commitment.
You have everything you need at your fingertips. You have a functional search bar and reporting on all of your matters and the stages they’re in.
Steven: We’re able to create custom layouts that include only the information you want to see.
Why do you believe Matterly is the best legal CRM on Salesforce?
Steven: It’s built by practitioners for practitioners. We speak your language. We know what lawyers are looking for, and when you ask for certain things, you don’t have to explain what you mean.