Lawyers with an ounce of interest in cloud computing will receive a lot of enthusiasm from Jack Newton, CEO and Co-Founder, Themis Solutions, Inc., maker of Clio. Named after the Greek muse of history, Clio is the turnkey cloud-based law practice management system for solo or small law firms. Greek inspired Clio may indeed turn computer infrastructure costs into history.
As Jack Newton offered, "By migrating their practice to the cloud lawyers can actually make their data more secure than it would be on-premise. In the three years since we've launched we've seen thousands of law firms make this realization, and lawyers are eager to move away from the expensive client-server systems of the past. In fact, the demand to move away from these systems is so high we've built out a dedicated 'switch team' to help with these migrations."
Although there are many law practice software applications on the market, Clio is worth looking into, as covered in our first review.
Key Concepts of Clio Practice Management
Any type of management system will require becoming familiar with software terminology. In Clio, the key fields give structure and conformity, similar to a law practice. Here are the main concepts to digest.
Practice. The term Practice is the construct of your business, and represents how you manage your firm's practice areas and activities. The Practice Agenda greets you on the home page, as pictured above, like your personal assistant would give you a list of the day's activities. In actuality, this practice agenda in Clio contains a well-organized task list and schedule for the day, which flow from previously logged activities.
Matters. What matters most are client cases and files, so that is why Clio uses Matters to house the client account taxonomy. In fact, Matters is the core of Clio like a key field that data links to. Matters store vital information about the client company (as pictured above), contacts at the client company that you are working with, practice area to be performed, and so on.
Firm Feed. One feature I particularly like is the Firm Feed that shows detailed account activity streams. No need to email within the firm anymore. Firm Feed is designed to inform members of practice activity and events, and flows from all users into this region when you log into Clio and throughout the day.
Document Automation. Document automation is a new feature enabling users to create templates and then set up recurring docs based on these stored templates. Document management advantages also include access to documents to see what co-workers are working on and provide visibility through the Firm Feed.
Clio Connect for Key Collaborative Work with Clients and Contacts
Clio Connect is a secure extranet portal than enables Clio users to collaborate with clients or contacts through messages and document sharing. Clients have their own portal login to a dashboard to see activities, documents, and communications with you or the firm’s employees. Comments may be posted externally to documents or clients may return document revisions that will be stored as a new version.
Clio users may also submit bills to clients. Notifications of payment are done through the secure portal to clients and arrangement for payments are made with online merchants that the company has integration with, including PayPal, Law Charge, and LawPay.
Clio's Key Support and Consultant Certification
Clio Support. Free, unlimited technical support is available 12 hours a day from Monday to Friday by phone, email, or Twitter. Webinars are conducted twice a week so that new users may acquire useful information quickly, on such topics as “How to set up an invoice ASAP.”
Certified Clio Consultants. Clio offers a certified consultant program to professionals interested in helping law firms set up and run the Clio practice management suite. Small law firms typically do not have IT staff and will have to contract services as needed. Law professionals will find certified Clio consultants almost anywhere in the U.S. to handle data migration, for example, from other law practice software or integration with other cloud based tools or desktop applications.
Clio’s Other Key Tools and Resources
Clio Academic Access Program. For students, faculty, and administrators, Clio is offered free of charge.
Clio Mobile. Clio’s smart phone app is designed to retrieve your practice resources on the go via mobile browser.
Clio Express. Clio gives you a time entry and billing app for your desktop, either online or offline. Clio Express takes minimal resources to run and handy to keep open while you work.
Integrations. For users who prefer to integrate other mainstream tools, there are several programs that reportedly work well with Clio. Invoice summaries as well as operating and trust account transaction records are exportable to Quickbooks. Google Apps is available as a single sign on to integrate with Clio, access Gmail accounts, and sync contacts and calendars. Microsoft Outlook sync is a bi-directional sync of data between calendars, contacts, and tasks. Dropbox and Box.net offer file storage for files sent to and from Clio.
Cloud Computing Resources. Lawyers looking to efficiently manage work processes will find it is time well spent setting up a practice in the cloud using Clio. Answers to questions regarding cloud computing can be referenced in Jack Newton’s paper, titled The Ethics and Security of Cloud Computing and other resources on the website.