Centerbase is a name you may not have heard of but is quickly growing in popularity. In my review of the cloud-based practice management platform, I shared some of my favorite features but was even more impressed when I attended their first Centerbase Partner Conference last month.
For the first time, I saw law practice management consultants, CPA’s, and legal technologists collaborating — not competing — in an environment that felt more like a reunion than a conference. There was laughter, great food, good times and a sunset boat cruise. People excited to see each other, sharing war stories and talking about the next wave of legal technology adoption.
What became clear to me as I looked around the room was that this is the group of people quite frankly… hold the keys to the kingdom.
While marketers have been spending millions of dollars on advertising, conferences and trade shows, consultants have been building relationships with law firms for the past thirty-plus years. Before there was a ‘cloud’ when fax machines were high-tech, and smartphones didn’t even exist.
The point being that those law firms are still going strong, with dozens of employees using legacy software solutions and if not now… will someday be ready for a change. And when they are, they won’t be calling a provider directly; they will be calling their trusted partner and friend for advice.
It was a humbling experience to be in a room full of legends. Legends who led the way and survived the chaos of every new wave of technology to hit the shores of our industry. To have seen companies come and go, guiding law firm clients through each transition being their business’ lifeline over and over again.
In less than two years Centerbase has accomplished the following:
- Build a cloud-based product that can compete with the extensive feature sets and customization options of premise-based law firm time, billing, accounting and practice management software.
- Prove their commitment to the community of Law Firm Consultants through product development, enough to attract over ninety Centerbase Certified Partners.
To put things in perspective, legacy providers have been in the marketplace for almost forty years. The amount of development, consultant feedback, and interactions completed in a two-year time frame are mind-blowing.
Because we’re not talking about a standard platform. Centerbase is a COMPLETELY CUSTOMIZABLE solution with FULLY INTEGRATED LAW FIRM ACCOUNTING. Two phrases that are pretty much non-existent in the cloud-based practice management marketplace. And if you think differently, ask any consultant, and they will tell you what some “claim” to be law firm accounting, isn’t accurate.
Herein lies the opportunity for both parties. Centerbase has decided not to sell directly to the law firm. Instead, Centerbase has decided to partner with consultants, who implement the system and create all of the workflows, customizations and reporting for the law firms. This provides a model that is beneficial to the consultant and creates a sales channel for the provider.
It’s not about the money; it’s about the magic.
For three days, I watched a group of some of the smartest, most caring people catch up with each other. I watched them talk, laugh and ask each other questions about Centerbase. They weren’t competing; they were collaborating.
The Centerbase Partner Conference created a magical environment where friends could see each other once a year. Long gone are the days of the Sage or Time Slips conferences, partner appreciation events, and revenue opportunities. Now, here’s an organization that truly recognizes the value their “Partners” bring to the table. John Forbes and his team at Centerbase appreciate the insights they have for how the product should be built, the decades of front-line experience they have, and want to create a community that feels more like a family than a sales channel.
With an aggressive technology roadmap, there’s no sign of Centerbase slowing down. They are quick to react and adapt to partner feedback. Examples include the recent series of integrations that include Law Tool Box, NetDocuments and LawPay, as well as resources for Partners for marketing and implementation.
For law firms and consultants alike, there is a bright future for those who choose to add Centerbase to their toolkit. I look forward to attending next year’s Partner reunion and raising a glass to what will no doubt be a prosperous year for all involved.