Clio Updates with NetDocuments and Xero Integration, Promises an iPhone App “Worth the Wait”

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Clio just announced two integrations that add robust backoffice accounting (Xero) and serious document management (NetDocuments) to its already-great practice management package.

Clio’s CEO, Jack Newton, also said his developers are putting together a mobile app that will be “worth the wait” (his words). I obviously don’t know exactly what he means by that, but Jack said his team did not want to just throw together an app; they wanted to build an experience optimized for both mobile and Clio. Sounds cool. I’m expecting something like long-awaited and really awesome Basecamp iOS app. So if you are a Clio user (or the client of a Clio user), look forward to the app.

NetDocuments has become a solid, cloud-based document management system. It basically takes over your Microsoft Office suite, replacing the file open and file save functions with NetDocuments. In other words, every time you open or save a document, you will be doing it with NetDocuments. I think this is the only sensible way to handle document management software: don’t give your staff the option to save things anywhere but your document management system. With Clio, matters are synced up, and documents you save in NetDocuments are associated with your matters in Clio. It’s a pretty powerful integration, and it’s clear from talking to both companies here at TechShow that they are pretty pumped about it.

Xero is a cloud-based accounting package that I had never heard of until Clio announced its integration. I wasn’t sure what to make of it until I talked to Jack Newton, Clio’s CEO, about it. Apparently, Clio itself uses Xero for its accounting. If it’s good enough for a 70+-employee company, it ought to work just fine for law firms. I signed up for a free trial right away, and was excited to see a detailed QuickBooks-to-Xero conversion guide.

Looking at Clio more closely for the first time in a few months, I’m also reminded that Clio has added a bunch of nice enhancements over the last couple of years. Besides NetDocuments, you can connect it to Dropbox, Box.net, and Google Drive. You can use text snippets to auto-complete your frequently-used billing phrases (emtc –> email to client). Clio also added two-factor authentication, which is an excellent way to bulletproof your account.

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  • Daniel Villarreal

    I guess we are now able to assess who the big players really are in in the saas legal practice management field. Rocketmatter and Clio have proven themselves as the only companies who have had constant significant updates to their products (not just minor updates like recurrent tasks and bulk upload of documents). I am super curious to see what other big updates these two companies have in plans for the rest of 2013. Perhaps direct integrations with MS Office so as to be able to open and save documents directly from Word and Excel ? Exchange integration like in Amicus Cloud, maybe ? A feature I would love is the ability to change the field labels for producing reports in other languages for us out there who practice law in foreign countries.

    I really hope that Rocketmatter and Clio, with their solid financial background, eventually decide to compete in other markets besides the U.S. and Canada. With their expertise and resources, I’m pretty sure that no vendor of practice management software would be able to fully compete with them. I know this for a fact since I have tried some software applications aimed for law firms in Civil Law countries and they just can’t compete with what Clio or Rocketmatter have to offer.

    In the meantime, I will be watching closely before deciding on which company I should sign up with for taking my solo practice to the cloud.

  • http://Myshingle.com Carolyn Elefant

    You know, when these LPM platforms were launched, they held themselves out as full client portals and document storage sites. Now, we see this integration – which means that a firm needs to shell out an extra $15-$90/ month depending upon which document management system they integrate with. If that’s the only way to make these products work, so be it – but I wish they’d been up front about it before.

    • Daniel Villarreal

      We have to remember that when there was only Timematters, Amicus, Practicemaster or other desktop-based programs, firms had to either use the document management/assembly features of those programs or pay additional amounts for licenses to document assembly and/or document management programs that are able to integrate with such PM programs. So, in my opinion, what SAAS PM vendors are doing now with their APIs and alliances with other cloud vendors is pretty normal. Nevertheless, ActionStep, Amicus Cloud (not entirely sure about this one), Clio and Rocketmatter do offer nice document management and document assembly features which users will either choose to use or complement with other cloud services that fully satisfy their needs. I fully agree with you though that when you add the monthly fees of two or three SAAS solutions that are able to integrate with one another, the total monthly cost for a small firm or a solo practitioner could very well end up as way too much.

    • Avi Frisch

      Carolyn,

      I think that they realized that if they avoid building new modules and direct you to other providers they can still charge the same and pretend they have more functionality than they do. It is a bit of a bait and switch, but hopefully the integration will at least be useful.

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

    I was pretty excited to try out Xero. QuickBooks Online (and offline, for that matter) has a pretty clunky UI, and I liked the looks of Xero. Unfortunately, it’s a gigantic pain in the ass to move data over. I just don’t have all day to do it.

    After complaining on Twitter, I did get a response from Xero about an experimental QuickBooks importer with caveats like this one:

    Journal Entries to Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable are not permitted in Xero. If you have entered journals to these accounts please be aware the conversion may not import these transactions, possibly reporting an incorrect opening balance.

    Great, so Xero will break my accountant’s journal entries from the last five years or so, and I will have to track them all down and repair my accounts if I want to use Xero? I know I’m not the only person champing at the bit to leave QuickBooks. In fact, I’d happily bet that’s Xero’s main demographic. If Xero can’t make moving from QuickBooks a smooth transition for QuickBooks users, it’s going to take a very long time to build a user base only from new businesses that actually know about Xero.

  • http://www.bobleonard.com Syd Leonard

    We want to move to a cloud based practice management system, but really need robust accounting, trust account management, billing and reporting functions. Would like to hear more from actual users.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Try exploring/asking in our forum. Just click on the forum link in the header, or type lab.lawyerist.com into your browser.