Last week was a perfect storm of breaking news in the world of cloud-based practice management software. It was a week that saw the acquisition by Tabs3 Software of CosmoLex, the appointment by PracticePanther of a new CEO, and the acquisition by Clio of CRM platform Lexicata, all bookended by Clio’s 10th anniversary on Monday and its Clio Cloud Conference on Thursday and Friday.

Although it was a week of upheaval in many respects, it was also one, in my opinion, that reflected the fact that cloud practice management has finally matured to the point where there is no doubt it is to be taken seriously. And Clio stands as Exhibit A for how this market has matured, having developed from feisty upstart to a mature, well-established company that is helping to drive legal innovation, both for itself and the legal industry at large.

Thoughts on the maturing of this market and what it means for legal professionals is the topic of my column this week at Above the Law: Cloud Practice Management Software Grows Up.

In a recent post here, I wrote about LAWCLERK, a legal services marketplace where solo and small-firm attorneys can hire freelance lawyers for short-term projects, and its integration with the practice management platform Clio. With the Clio Cloud Conference coming up this week, LAWCLERK has introduced a new feature that allows firms to rehire favored freelancers.

As my prior post explained in more detail, law firms use LAWCLERK to solicit freelance lawyers to help with specific projects. Firms post project descriptions, freelancers apply, and firms choose from among the applicants. But if a firm liked a particular freelancer, the platform did not allow it to request that same freelancer for a subsequent project.

Now, LAWCLERK is adding a new “Build a Team” feature that allows firms to designate favored freelancers. At the completion of a project, the firm will be able to mark the freelancer as a member of its “team.”

The next time the firm posts a project, it can choose to post it to the entire LAWCLERK roster or only to a specific member of its team. If the team member is unable to do the project, the firm can reassign the project to another member of its team or post it to the full roster.

For anyone attending the Clio conference this week, LAWCLERK will be in attendance, demonstrating this feature and its Clio integration.

In just two weeks, the sixth Clio Cloud Conference kicks off in New Orleans. I have attended all five of the prior Clio conferences and, as I wrote last year, I have uniformly praised each one. This year’s conference has a great line-up of keynote speakers and presenters, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, MacArthur fellow, and New York Times best-selling author, who is one of the most compelling and inspiring speakers I’ve ever seen.

All of that said, here is one other reason to attend: For the first time this year, Clio will present a $100,000 Launch//Code prize to the legal technology company that is chosen as the best new integration with Clio. (I will be one of the judges who select the winner.)

Today, Clio announced the five finalists that will compete for the prize, out of more than 50 submissions. They are:

  • ClientSherpa, an application for automating intake of new clients.
  • Logikcull, a platform that automates e-discovery and data management in litigation and investigations.
  • MyFirmData, a product that allows firms to create custom reports using information stored in Clio, including financial data and custom fields.
  • Tali, an application that allows lawyers to track their time using only voice commands.
  • Your Firm App, which enables law firms to create custom-branded native applications on iOS and Android.

On the first day of the conference, Oct. 4, each of these finalists will present a three-minute pitch on their app’s innovation, impact, and business potential to a panel of industry experts and in front of a live conference audience.

The winner will be announced the next day, during closing keynote.

The judging panel that will select the winner is composed of:

  • Jack Newton, CEO and co-founder of Clio.
  • Jules Miller, partner at IBM’s Blockchain Accelerator and partner and co-founder of Prose Ventures.
  • Billie Tarascio, a Clio customer and the owner of the Modern Law Firm.
  • Me.

You can still register to attend the conference. Information on registration can be found here.

After three years of attending the Clio Cloud Conference, the jazzy, New Orleans legal tech conference hosted by leading cloud-based practice management software provider Clio, Billie Tarascio had had it. Not with the conference, but with being the only staffer from the firm she owns, Modern Law, to attend. So last year, she packed everyone up and headed to The Big Easy for what proved to be “one of the best decisions” she ever made.

This year, the Modern Law team is doing it again.

“You can’t attend every session,” Tarascio explained. “Our employees want to feel like they can make a difference, and they want to feel like they’re growing.”

The Clio Cloud Conference features two days of keynote speakers and incredible educational sessions. Combine that with nourishing food and wellness activities, and the conference definitely offers the kind of growth Modern Law’s employees were looking for, particularly the support professionals who make the back end work.

“Especially for the staff, paralegals and non-lawyers,” Tarascio said. “[Clio Cloud Conference is] a way that would make them really excited about investing in the infrastructure of the law firm.”

Beyond much-appreciated professional development, the Clio Cloud Conference’s exciting NOLA location makes it an ideal perch for the Arizona-based law firm staff to both grow as a team and have fun.

“[The Clio Cloud Conference] is something that my team looks forward to all year,” Tarascio said. “In some ways, it’s a retention tool [for Modern Law].

“It’s so well-organized that I could not, as a law firm owner, put together anything like that in terms of the whole package—the food, the fun, the entertainment, and then the structure of the content.”

You only need to check out the Clio Cloud Conference 2018 agenda to get a taste of what makes this legal conference such a can’t-miss event for Modern Law’s staff. The first activity for the first day of the conference isn’t a boring networking breakfast, but a morning run through New Orleans’ vibrant Central Business District.

After a keynote from Clio’s CEO and Co-founder, Jack Newton, participants start to explore presentations in one of four actionable tracks: Legal Technology, Business of Law, Clio University: Lectures, and Clio University: Seminars. Blockchain, mobile tech, a “billing bootcamp,” and a networking pop-up are all on the agenda, and attendees can choose to stick to one track, or bounce between multiple. The conference wraps up with a closing keynote from Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, MacArthur fellow, and New York Times best-selling author.

Each night, Clio hosts “After Dark” events, which have become iconic among the throng of legal professionals who make heading to Clio each year a necessity, like Modern Law.

It’s these opportunities to make meaningful connections with like-minded attorneys that stood out to Tarascio the first time she attended the Clio Cloud Conference five years ago.

“It was the first time that I met other lawyers that thought the way I did,” Tarascio remembered.

“[At the Clio Cloud Conference], all these lawyers around the country shared this vision for the future of lawyers and legal tech. It was a really mind-blowing experience.”

Modern Law never misses out on the Clio Cloud Conference, and neither should you. Bring your firm today with the code LAWSITES, and get 35% off single conference passes.

“The Clio Cloud Conference has cemented its standing as a must-attend annual legal technology conference.” – Bob Ambrogi, LawSites Blog

The practice management platform Clio yesterday rolled out a feature called Clio Launcher that opens documents for editing on your desktop computer with one click and then saves them back to the appropriate folder in Clio.

It works on both Windows and Mac computers (but not Chromebooks) and for any type of file, including documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, videos and images. It requires either a Boutique or Elite subscription to Clio and thus is not available to those on Clio’s lowest-tier Starter plan.

The advantage of this one-click editing is that it eliminates the steps of first downloading a document from Clio when edits are required and then re-uploading it when you are done.

Use of Clio Launcher requires installing an app on your computer. The first time you click to open a document from within Clio, you will be prompted to install the app. Thereafter, it runs in the background and is available whenever you want to open a document from within Clio.

Next to each document in Clio is an icon for opening it externally. When you click that, the Clio Launcher opens the document in your default desktop editor for that type of document, such as Microsoft Word or Excel. When you are done and save the file, it is saved back to Clio with the edits. Clio also tracks prior versions of the document.

Be aware that Clio Launcher does not notify you if someone else in your firm is editing the same document at the same time. Clio says it is working on that functionality. However, if that happens, both edited documents will be saved as separate versions.

Read more:

The practice-management platform Clio recently notified long-term customers who had been grandfathered on an older pricing plan that they will now have to switch to Clio’s current pricing plan.

The grandfathering came about in February 2015, when Clio adopted a three-tiered monthly subscription plan in place of its prior single-price plan. (See: Practice-Management Platform Clio Converts to Three-Tiered Pricing.) When it did so, it offered existing customers the option of being grandfathered into their existing features and pricing.

Those existing customers had been paying $49 per user per month, the price Clio had charged since its launch in 2008. (Some were paying even less, thanks to discounts through bar associations.) The three-tiered plan is $39, $59 or $99 a month if paid annually and $49, $69 or $109 if paid monthly, depending on features. (These plans also qualify for bar discounts.)

But those legacy customers had received no feature updates in the years since, apart from essential security and compatibility updates, and Clio decided it was important to bring them in line with its other customers.

“We feel it is important that all of our customers have equal access and opportunity to the features and functionality that Clio offers today, such as an Outlook 365 integration, Clio Payments, and Evergreen Management,” Sasha Perrin, corporate communications manager, told me.

Perrin said that the grandfathered customers were being transitioned to the middle-tier Boutique plan because it most closely reflects the discontinued plan in features and functionality, while also adding features. However, customers are free to choose any plan, she said.

One customer told me that he was annoyed by how Clio handled the increase, “announcing that my bill was going up roughly 35% and acting like they were doing me a favor.” But after he reached out to Clio, they gave him a further discount off the Boutique price, so that his overall increase was small.

Perrin said Clio gave customers advance notice of two billing cycles (roughly 60 days) if they were on monthly plans or a minimum of 60 days if they were on annual plans. “We communicated the transition to customers in a multitude of ways, including email, in-app notifications, and various support channels,” she said.

This past month, we’ve made a few improvements to help you accomplish your daily tasks as efficiently as possible. We’re proud to bring you key updates to the way you view contacts in Clio, and to Clio’s Outlook Add-in for Office 365.

We’ve also got two new app integration partners to tell you about, and a new product updates page that will help you stay up-to-date with new changes to Clio, right as they’re announced.

New Clio Product Updates page

Want to stay informed on the most recent updates in Clio? We’ve got just the thing for you.

Our new Clio Product Updates page features all the latest updates to Clio, including links to more in-depth support articles and videos. With this information at your fingertips, you’ll be better positioned to implement changes at your firm and get the most out of Clio, as soon as improvements happen.

Check out our latest updates

Update to Clio’s Outlook Add-in for Office 365

Clio’s Outlook Add-in for Office 365 is getting smarter: It’s now easier than ever to work between your most-used email client and Clio. With the add-in, you can save email messages and attachments directly from Outlook to your contacts in Clio—all while tracking your time for faster invoicing. And if you’ve got duplicate contacts in Clio, or if you haven’t created a contact for a given case yet, there’s still a workflow for filing emails quickly and efficiently.

Here’s how it works: When you go to save an email to Clio using the Outlook add-in, and the add-in finds that there are multiple contacts in Clio with the same email address as either the sender or recipient, you’ll have full control to choose the correct contact from a list of matches. You’ll also have the option to search for the correct contact, or create a new contact.

If the add-in finds that there are no contacts in Clio with the same email address as the sender or recipient, you’ll be prompted to search for the right contact or add a new contact to Clio. It’s easy to use, and effectively smarter than before.

Learn more about this update to the Outlook add-in here.

All custom field columns exportable to CSV

With Clio, it’s now even easier to get key information about your law firm, when you need it.

Previously, when exporting different views of your matters list to CSV, you were able to export up to five custom field columns. Now, you can export any and all custom field columns that you add to your view of this table in Clio, whether you’re viewing your matters, contacts, or activities lists.

New Contacts List view

You may notice that your main contacts page in Clio now looks and feels a little different—that it looks a lot more similar to your matters and activities pages, in fact.

With this update, your main contacts page will load faster, and you’ll be able to quickly and easily filter for specific contact information. You’ll also be able to add custom field columns to your view so that you can get the information you need at a glance—and if you need to, you can also easily export all information. Log into Clio to see it for yourself now!

New app integration partners

With over 90 app integration partners, Clio integrates with more leading apps and services than any other practice management software. Here are some of our newest partners:

Allocate Legal

According to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, lawyers only log 2.3 hours of billable time per day on average, or 29% of an eight-hour workday. With a range of non-billable tasks to complete on a day-to-day basis in addition to billable targets, lawyers need all the help they can get to efficiently complete administrative tasks and stay on track.

Enter Allocate Legal, the latest in AI-powered legal timekeeping technology. From tools specific to capturing billable time spent composing emails, drafting documents, attending meetings and much more, Allocate automatically predicts how much time is spent on activities—even providing you with data on how this impacts you on a client and matter level.

Allocate will save your time, and you can simply review and approve—while all this is saved to matters in Clio. You’ll capture more time and spend less time doing it, so you can get back to focusing on billable hours.

Learn more about Allocate Legal and Clio

LawLytics

The 2017 Legal Trends Report also found that 37% of consumers surveyed used an online search engine to find their lawyer. You need to pay attention to how you appear online, but you may have limited time and funds to spend on a top-notch law firm website.

LawLytics is the leading website system for small law firms that want their online marketing to work without wasting time or money. Unlike marketing agencies, LawLytics adapts as the law firm’s needs evolve, so lawyers never overpay.

And, with the LawLytics-to-Clio integration, there’s no need to redundantly enter new client information that comes in through your website into Clio. The integration saves you time and eliminates the potential for data entry mistakes that can occur when manually transferring information.

Learn more about LawLytics and Clio

That’s it for this month! Not a Clio customer? Don’t miss out on the most powerful and easy-to-use cloud-based practice management platform any longer. Try Clio for free today.

 

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Teresa Matich writes about legal technology and the business of law for Clio’s blog. She has previously worked as a reporter in the financial sector, and prior to that, she was an office clerk at a Vancouver real estate law firm.

The cloud-based practice management platform Clio this week introduced an Outlook 365 add-in that makes it easier to associate emails in Outlook with matters in Clio.

The add-in enables four functions:

  • File emails with one click. Save emails, including attachments, from Outlook to a matter in Clio.
  • “Smart File” emails. Scan your inbox for emails received in the last 48 hours that should be filed to a matter in Clio.
  • File email threads. Once a client email is associated with a matter, you can run a scan to file threads and responses from within the last 48 hours.
  • Track time. Start a timer from within Outlook and capture billable time to Clio.

Clio’s Outlook 365 add-in is compatible with Home, Personal, Business and Enterprise versions of Outlook for Office 365, both browser and desktop versions, on Macs and PCs. It is available at no cost to customers with either a Boutique or Elite subscription.

The add-in can be downloaded from Microsoft’s App Store.

Updates to Android App

Clio also recently updated its Android app to enhance the Global Create functionality. With these changes, users of the app can now:

  • Start a timer from within the app and easily take another action from the Global Create menu.
  • Customize the order of quick actions available from the Global Create view, so your most-used features are always easily accessible.

In addition, Clio has updated the interface of the Global Create menu. Commands now appear horizontally at the bottom of the screen, where you can scroll left or right to find the one you need.

Android users can download the Clio app in the Google Play store.

 

What matters most to clients in choosing a lawyer?

Most practicing lawyers will have an opinion about that, but even better than an opinion is hard-and-fast data. And that is what is provided in the 2017 Legal Trends Report, compiled by practice management company Clio.

As part of its report, released last October, Clio surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and 3,000 legal professionals, compiling their responses to such questions as:

  • How do clients look for legal representation?
  • What factors into their decision to hire a lawyer?
  • How will future trends affect client expectations?

In a Feb. 15, webcast, How Clients Choose Lawyers According to the Legal Trends Report, I will explore the report’s findings in detail with Jack Newton, Clio’s founder and CEO. Newton will also offer insights into how lawyers can act on this information and how technology can help lawyers better serve clients.

The 60-minute webcast starts at 1 pm. EST. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

The webcast is sponsored by Clio and Above the Law.

 

Dashboard shows details of a matter

In September, I reported that practice management provider Clio, at its annual Clio Cloud Conference, had unveiled “the new Clio experience” — a top-to-bottom re-engineering and redesign of its practice management platform, which it dubbed Project Apollo, after the Greek god of healing and light. Having now had a chance to explore Apollo, I thought I’d offer more details.

As I wrote in that September post, there was perhaps an even bigger announcement from Clio at that conference — that of its future course. Whereas its mission so far has been to move law practice management to the cloud, its mission going forward is to move law practice to the cloud and, in the process, to, as its motto now says, “Transform the practice of law, for good.”

“The idea of practice management is a relic of the old way of framing what legal software can do.” CEO Jack Newton said during during a media day visit to Clio’s headquarters in Vancouver, B.C., which I wrote about in a column at Above the Law. “So the next chapter is to move the practice of law to the cloud. Eventually, all sorts of other facets of practicing law will get pulled into the cloud. The idea of practice management will become a limiting way to describe what we do and what our vision is.”

See also: My Podcast Interview with CEO Jack Newton on Clio’s Future Course.

Clio sees Apollo, its redesigned platform, as a major step in that direction. It envisions the platform becoming the backbone of a modern law firm’s technology stack and the hub of an ecosystem of what are now nearly 70 integration partners and that will continue to grow.

Exploring Apollo

In over a year developing Apollo, Clio spent more than 600 hours and 60 days visiting law firms, consulting with clients, conducting user testing, and monitoring feedback from customer surveys and interactions. It encompasses a new design, faster performance and some 220 feature improvements.

Clio has also created a new version of its API (application programming interface) that will allow it to better connect its ecosystem of integration partners, and it has launched a new App Directory to make it easier for its customers to find integrations appropriate to their practice.

From the top navigation bar, you can search, see recent matters, start a timer, add new items, and toggle back to the legacy version.

For now, Clio subscribers have the option of toggling between the legacy and Apollo versions of the software via a toggle switch in the navigation bar. Eventually, that toggle switch will disappear and all users will default to the new version.

One notable improvement in Apollo is global navigation. The navigation panel now sits on the left of the screen, instead of the top as before, where you can access tasks with a single click. The panel is collapsible to give you more screen real estate.

The search bar is now atop the navigation menu for quick access. Search now includes custom fields created by the user. Next to the search bar is a Recents button to access the 10 most-recent items you’ve worked on.

The new Timekeeper feature shows your time for the day.

The new application was built using a single-page architecture. That means that, when you click on links to move around within the application, the left and top navigation bars stay in place. Only the center of the page reloads, making pages load more quickly. Clio says its platform is now five times faster. While I can’t quantify it, I can tell you that the pages load very quickly.

Another time-saving feature of the new design is global create. Wherever you are in the application, the Create New button is available at the top right of the screen. Click it to quickly add a new matter, contact, task, time entry, expense entry or just about anything else that can be done within Clio.

The Global Create feature lets you create a new matter, contact, or anything else.

Timekeeping has been enhanced by allowing users to start the timer with a single click, without having to enter any matter details. Also, a new Timekeeper button, accessible from anywhere in the application, allows you to quickly see and edit all your time entries and totals for the day (or you can toggle back through prior days). Click any entry to start a new timer for same matter.

Invoicing

A new Activities page shows all your activities in a data table. Columns in the table can be resized, hidden and added to create the view you like. Activity can be filtered by date ranges, keywords, matter, firm user, and other fields.

The Matters page now also displays as a data table with configurable  and collapsible columns. The Create New Matter page has been condensed so that all fields fit within a single page. The top of the page is where you enter standard information about the case. Expandable sections farther down on the page let you add billing preferences, custom fields, automated tasks, and related contacts.

List of matters shows as a data table with configurable columns.

Also revamped is the matter dashboard page, to provide more information at a glance. At the top, the page shows current financial information for the matter, including total time and expenses, any outstanding balance, and available trust funds. Farther down, the dashboard shows the matter details. A box on the right shows contact information for the client and for any related contacts. Below that, a new Timeline replaces the previous version’s Firm Feed, showing all firm activity on the matter.

Other changes worthy of note:

  • Apollo allows bulk billing of all clients with outstanding amounts due and also bulk application of trust funds to invoiced amounts. Bulk billing can also be limited by date ranges for billed activity or by responsible attorney. The platform has improved features for previewing, editing and sharing invoices.
  • From the Communications page, when you create an entry to log a phone call, you also get the option to start a timer for the call. When you close the log, a pop-up lets you also create a time entyr for the call.
  • Clio now integrates with Microsoft Office 365 and has improved email synchronization. Users can now link emails directly into Clio from Outlook, push attachments from Outlook into Clio’s document management system, and track time within Outlook.

About Those Integrations

A key differentiator of Clio over other practice management platforms is its integrations with third-party applications that extend its capabilities. At its September conference, Clio announced 12 new integration partners, bringing the total to more than 70. It also launched a new App Directory to make it easier for users to find applications that match their practice needs.

Homepage of new app directory

These integrations cover a range of categories, from accounting and client intake, to e-discovery and legal research, to timekeeping and workforce management. Note, however, that most of these third-party integrations require their own subscriptions, in addition to the Clio subscription.

And Coming Soon …

In addition to Apollo, Clio is working to finish another development project, which it calls Hermes, and which will be a secure, mobile-optimized communication platform for lawyers and their clients. Think of it as a legal-specific variation on communication applications such as WhatsApp or Slack.

The application will enable lawyers to securely message with colleagues and clients, initiate secure video chats, exchange documents, and more, from mobile or desktop. Clio was demonstrating a prototype version at its conference in September but had not announced a final release date.

Pricing

With Clio’s rollout of its new platform, it left its pricing unchanged. Clio offers three plans. When billed annually, the per-user monthly costs are $39 for the Starter plan, $59 for the Boutique plan and $99 for the Elite plan.

Most lawyers would want at least the Boutique plan, which includes integrated credit card processing, accounting integrations, and Office 365 Business & Enterprise integration. The Elite plan adds court-rules calendaring and other features.

The Bottom Line

For lawyers shopping for practice management software, good options abound. The right choice for you depends on your practice and your needs. As I said above, a major differentiator for Clio is its third-party integrations. No other platform has anywhere near Clio’s number of integrations, and several decidedly avoid integrations, instead taking an all-in-one approach.

That said, I should emphasize that you do not need any third-party integrations to use Clio, although you will probably want a third-party business accounting program. It is a complete platform in and of itself. But the integrations can help make the platform fit better with the particular needs of your practice. And, going forward, the integrations will be the fuel that drives Clio’s vision of moving not just law practice management, but law practice, to the cloud.

Clio has many factors in its favor. It is a mature, reliable and well-funded company. Its new software is intuitive and robust and works equally well on desktop or mobile. It has an excellent reputation for customer support. While its pricing is generally higher than its competitors, it is still within range. Of the many good options out there, you won’t go wrong with Clio.