October 2014Volume 20Number 3PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)

Highlight on Clio: Review of affordable cloud-based practice management software

It goes without saying that technology has changed the way that we interact with our clients. E-mail has allowed us to interact with clients much faster. They no longer have to wait for us to return to our office and call them, nor do they have to wait for our correspondence via “snail mail.” Our clients expect to be given direct, timely, and secure access to us as their counsel. Technology has built a world for us all where instant gratification seems to be the new normal. We can have anything delivered to our front doorstep in a matter of a day, including everything from books and clothing, to groceries. For those of us that use digital platforms for music, multimedia and reading, we no longer need to go to the store to make these purchases, or wait for them to be delivered. We can buy movies, books, television shows and music immediately on our smart phones or tablets. How does this instant gratification translate to us as legal counsel, and how do we do our part to keep up with client expectations and the technological curve we are presented with on a daily basis?

Looking at our practice management software is a good place to start. With all of the new technology that is available to attorneys, searching for up-to-date practice management software can be a hassle. These technological advances are meant to make our lives easier as modern attorneys, not more difficult. Enter Clio, a web/cloud-based all-inclusive secure platform that allows attorneys to interact with clients, manage their cases, send out bills, and access the practice remotely when necessary, all for a very reasonable monthly per-user cost.

Clio is unique in that it allows all of your clients to register for their own web-access to Clio upon invitation. The clients enter a username and password that is unique to them, and they have a Web page unique to them for viewing. On the backend, the attorneys can send documents securely through Clio to the client. The client is notified via e-mail that there is a document waiting for them. They login, and they can review the document. Billing works the same way. All of the documents that you share with a client through Clio are available to them upon simple login. You no longer need to send and re-send these documents over and over again, as they have instant access. This is wonderful for sending court orders, correspondences, discovery, pleadings, and of course, bills. Even better, if you sign up with one of the authorized payment processing providers that are built into the Clio platform, the client can make payments to you through their Clio portal with the click of a button.

Clio also offers integration directly with drop box, and is beginning to offer automatic document generation for drafting of routine pleadings, correspondence and motions. There is a timer feature, so that you can keep track of your time, as well as a button that allows you to copy all e-mails directly into an individual case’s Clio file, to keep track of all old e-mails. A “search” button allows you to search through all communications for key words, rather than reading through loads and loads of all old e-mails.

Clio can be logged into on your smart phone or tablet, from the court house. If you have misplaced a document or do not have your entire file with you, you simply can login on your smart device and pull up any document that you have in the case file. This is much less stressful than running back to your office or calling an associate or paralegal to find out the contents of an old correspondence, or whether or not a response was filed to a petition. Your practice is literally in the palm of your hand.

Finally, Clio had a conference in Chicago just this past month. One of the partners from my firm attended and said it was out of this world. They have many new features they will be introducing, and they truly took care of the attendees. (I was told that one day breakfast was provided via “Food Trucks” parked outside the conference and everything was complimentary, and that there were also Smoothie bars set up in the afternoons for all attendees, to name a few of the perks.) Clio was on site to answer any questions users may have, with one-on-one attention, and to receive feedback. Clio hosted sessions where they taught users how to use new features of the program. They will be having another conference next year, and early bird registration has begun.

Our firm’s experience in using Clio has been very positive, and the client feedback has been the same. Further, we have had clients who have called Clio with questions and they have not only been very responsive to them, but they have notified us of the phone call so that we can correct any issues that have arisen on the back end. Now that is customer service! And, if you are not already convinced, members of the Illinois State Bar Association receive a 10% lifetime discount on Clio in addition to a free trial, live 1:1 web demonstrations and unlimited access to live customer support training.

With many firms moving towards “cloud-based” practice management software, Clio is ahead of the curve. The platform is user-friendly and easy to learn. Clio is highly recommended if you are looking to bring your practice management software up to date. ■

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