- Firm Name & Slogan: Calkins Law Office
- Location: Alma, Nebraska
- What does your firm do? We are a general practice law firm focusing on criminal defense, real estate transactions, and business law. We currently have criminal cases ranging from DUI to first degree murder and everything in between.
- How did your firm start and how did it grow? Richard Calkins, my father, began as a sole practitioner when he moved back to his hometown of Alma in 1994. His practice remained a “one man show” until August of 2015 when I came into practice with him. Previously I had been a criminal prosecutor for approximately nine years and resisted the idea of doing defense work or moving back to a small town. The small town appeal grew as I aged and realized the advantages of rural living and now, after about twenty-two years, the office has grown by one attorney – me.
- How did you do things before PracticePanther and how has PracticePanther helped today? Prior to Practice Panther we were using Quick Books and a product by Ebillity called “Time Tracker”, which fully integrated with the desktop QB version but only kept track of billable hours. Most of the features available on Practice Panther were not available in Time Tracker. Worse, the “integration” wasn’t as full as we wanted. There were so many issues with the two programs “talking” to each other that I spent more time visiting with their customer service people than working. While they were very nice and very helpful, the problems never seemed to be totally resolved or the problem would resolve only to reappear at a later time. Practice Panther has given us the ability to have a self-contained program that tracks not only time, but accounts receivable, expenses, retainers, and other great features. It’s also much more user-friendly than what we were using previously. While we are still a ways from fully utilizing the program, as we are still learning, it’s seems that anything we do in Practice Panther can be undone if we make mistakes and doesn’t throw everything off, which is nice for those of us who do a lot of “trial and error” in our use of technology.
- What is your favorite thing about PracticePanther? So far, my favorite thing about Practice Panther is the ability to categorize various clients and cases, as well as being able to have multiple client matters that can show billable hours for each case. Previously we only could show a total account balance that did not distinguish between different cases for those clients who were “regulars”.
- What is one piece of advice you would offer other lawyers in your industry? One piece of advice I have for other lawyers and firms: your job is much easier when you realize that’s all it is – a job. Whether you do criminal law, civil litigation, family law, or whatever, don’t always put yourself in an “adversarial” position. The other side isn’t always the “Bad Guy” and, if that is how your viewpoint generally is, you would be very surprised how much you can get done by simply being nice, respectful, and professional to opposing counsel. There’s always those attorneys who aren’t receptive to professionalism and see their job as a personal crusade for their clients, but I’ve found they’re few and far between (but I still like to take them down a peg or two if I can) and most just want to close a file, get paid, and move on to the next thing.