Upgrading to automated eFiling

How a mid-size Illinois law firm achieved real-time billing estimates and organized its case files using InfoTrack’s court filing integration with Smokeball


Peck Ritchey, LLC

Practice area

Elder law




Chicago, IL

Lisa Larson doesn’t have time for roadblocks.

On weekdays, she has a demanding role handling court filings and other legal support responsibilities as a paralegal at Peck Ritchey, LLC—a mid-size elder law firm with 11 staff attorneys and seven of-counsel. Many nights, Larson also volunteers at the Chicago Paralegal Association, helping students and experienced professionals develop new skills and chart their careers.

When she joined Peck Ritchey in April 2021, Larson was relieved to find that the firm was already using Smokeball law practice management software to manage day-to-day workflows and business operations. This tool made it easy for her to organize matters, manage time and billing, and gain insights into the firm’s efficiency and profitability. One of the most full-featured and comprehensive software of its kind, Smokeball is on the premium end of its category.

But when Illinois made electronic court filing mandatory in 2018, Peck Ritchey first selected the lowest-cost service provider available: Odyssey File & Serve. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cheapest solution did not prove to be the most efficient.

Lisa Larson

Lisa Larson

The problem with 'free'

Subsidized by the State of Illinois to ensure basic access to justice for indigent filers, Odyssey File & Serve was the only certified Illinois eFiling service provider with no eFiling fee. The developers of Odyssey File & Serve used similar branding to describe the state court filing platform it connected to (Odyssey eFileIL), leaving many Illinois law firms with the incorrect impression that it was more “official” than its many state-certified competitors.

Early on, the justification for choosing Odyssey seemed clear. Saving just a few dollars on each court filing transaction would contribute to lower expenses over time, making the firm more profitable. Aside from Odyssey’s percentage-based fee on credit card transactions, Peck Ritchey would only need to pay the fees owed to the court.

But after several months of using Odyssey, Larson and her team discovered that “free eFiling” was actually costing the firm quite a bit. 

Perhaps the most glaring challenge was with billing. Receipts from Odyssey listed the court fees and the payment processing fees using terminology that made it difficult for the firm and its clients to understand who should cover the fees. “If someone didn’t write what the matter was,” Larson explained, “it was hard to pinpoint where the expense went.”


Real-time client invoicing

Combined with Smokeball's time & billing features, InfoTrack's automatic expensing for court transactions allows Peck Ritchey to generate up-to-date pre-bills and invoices at the push of a button.

You don't have to go searching for [each document], and you don't have to worry about allocating the expenses later.

Reassessing value

When decisionmakers at Peck Ritchey first learned about a certified Illinois eFiling provider that integrated with Smokeball, they were intrigued. At $3 per filing transaction, InfoTrack’s pricing was comparable to most other service providers in Illinois. But it was also the only solution on the market that addressed their eFiling pain points.

For example, InfoTrack significantly simplified client billing. The firm had an existing process in place to generate pre-bills in Smokeball that accounted for case documents and billable time. With InfoTrack, every court filing transaction placed in matter produced a corresponding expense that would automatically sync back to Smokeball.

This improvement removed the need to hunt down and track fees manually and gave the firm visibility into client balances in real-time. With a click of a button, an invoice could be created and immediately sent to the client.

According to Larson, before using the InfoTrack integration, firm employees managing the billing process would have to send emails back and forth to the paralegals to reconcile expenses and determine which matters had been filed.

“Now, it’s all-in-one,” Larson said. “Our office manager can just click a button.”

Simplicity beyond eFiling

In addition to court filing, InfoTrack offers other pay-per-transaction services like electronic signatures and service of process. For Larson and her team, the ability to manage multiple legal services through InfoTrack helps them save time and stay organized. All order details are centralized in one dashboard, and can quickly and easily be transferred to Smokeball’s expense records for client billing.

With previous experience in the process serving field, Larson has an in-depth appreciation of the benefits of using InfoTrack for the firm’s service of process needs. “I actually think it’s cheaper than the firm we were using before, they move faster, and they actually give timely updates,” Larson said. “If I have any issues, they’ll message me back fairly quickly.”

Larson also said InfoTrack has greatly simplified Peck Ritchey’s document management practices. All versions of key documents stay in the relevant matter, and paralegals don’t have to jump into other software or document libraries to complete their work.

“InfoTrack automatically converts [each document] for you,” Larson explained. “And when it comes back, it’s going to go directly into that [matter]. You don’t have to go searching for it, and you don’t have to worry about allocating the expenses later. As soon as you file, it it’s all there.”


With Odyssey, it would have been more time consuming.

Everyday benefits that make life easier

At Peck Ritchey, InfoTrack was seamlessly implemented into existing processes and tools. By incrementally improving several repetitive and cumbersome tasks, the firm was able to improve operations and communication and team members across the firm can work more efficiently.

On the day she was interviewed, Larson had to file six receipts and vouchers to help close out a case.

“With Odyssey, it would have been more time consuming,” Larson said. “Looking for everything, converting things from Word to PDF, on six documents.”

With InfoTrack?

“It’s just boom, boom, boom. Everything goes right in.”

Let InfoTrack simplify your litigation process today.