Guest post by Jack Newton.

(Jack e-mailed me after seeing my post about Rocket Matter, and wanted the chance to weigh in. Since I view Rocket Matter and Clio as leading law practice management software options, it only made sense. -Sam)

Thanks for considering Clio as a solution for your law practice management software needs. Here’s why, based on the needs you’ve outlined previously, I think it would be an excellent choice for your firm:

Everything is Under One Roof

In your original post you identified the problems inherent in using a miscellany of purpose-built tools to manage your practice.

With Clio we’ve tried to include a well-scoped set of tools that every solo or small firm would need to run their practice, including time-tracking, billing, calendaring, task tracking, document management, and client collaboration.

Staff only need trained on one system, don’t need to guess which system has the most up-to-date information, and data gets input in a single place without worry over data duplication or inconsistency.

You mention the need to have firm-wide access to data at a moment’s notice. Clio has, by default, a “shared everything” approach where contacts, matters, calendars, etc. are shared across the entire firm.

In those cases where access to sensitive data must be restricted, application features such as financial reports and bill generation (among others), can be isolated from certain staff members.

Cross-Platform and Mobile Access

You run Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux in your firm. Clio, like most cloud-based offerings, is platform agnostic, meaning you can run it on virtually any operating system.

You identify mobile access from both iPhones and Android-based phones as being a priority. You’ll be happy to hear Clio has a rich mobile interface available for both devices. You can perform all the functions you’d expect to be able to – such as completing tasks, creating and viewing calendar entries, mapping meeting locations, creating time entries, etc. – from the mobile interface.

The mobile interface will give you an over-the-air “live” view of all of your data, obviating the need to synchronize directly with either your iPhone or Android phones.

Document Management

You list Document Management as a nice-to-have, and Clio does come with a simple but flexible document management system. You can upload and attach documents to matters in the same way you would add an attachment to an e-mail message. You can track multiple revisions of a document in Clio, and you can also easily attach billable time to an uploaded document if you should so choose. Documents are, by default, available to everyone in your firm once you’ve attached them to a matter.

Client Communications and Collaboration

With Clio ClientConnect, you can securely share and collaborate on documents with clients. You can also securely send bills to clients through ClientConnect, allowing the client the option of even paying the bill via credit card or bank transfer.

Using ClientConnect delivers several benefits:

You’ll receive fewer calls from clients asking you to re-send a document you’ve already shared with them – with ClientConnect your entire work product library is shared with your client. You’ll find collaborating with clients is easier, as the comment threads pertaining to a document are stored inline in our document management system. You’ll get your bills out the door faster – since there’s no printing, mailing or postage involved, getting your bill to your client takes just one click. Your clients will pay you faster. Most clients prefer electronic invoices, and bills that offer electronic payment options get paid faster than bills that must be settled by check.

Security. An increasing number of jurisdictions are requiring confidential client communications to be performed over secure channel. ClientConnect uses the same 256 bit SSL encryption the rest of Clio employs, so you can rest assured your client communications will be safe from prying eyes.

E-mail Integration

Just over a month ago at the ABA TechShow we launched e-mail integration for Clio. This makes it easy for your entire firm – regardless of which e-mail program they’re using – to use Clio as a central e-mail and communication repository.

We accomplish this by making a designated “e-mail dropbox” address available for each of your matters. You can BCC or forward any e-mail correspondence for a given matter to its special dropbox e-mail address, and Clio will automatically parse the e-mail, attach it to the appropriate e-mail, and extract and attach any documents to Clio’s integrated document management system. The e-mail and documents get automatically linked to the appropriate matter and contacts. Clio’s e-mail dropbox system is like having a full-time virtual assistant reading and filing every e-mail your firm sends, allowing you to treat Clio as a system for long-term message archival, rather than allowing old messages to clutter your in-box.

Getting Your Data Into Clio

Your firm is currently using a diverse set of software systems, and if you select Clio as your law practice management software system you’ll no doubt want to consolidate your data in Clio.

Our data migration experts be able to help you migrate your Google Apps, QuickBooks, and Remember The Milk data over to Clio free-of-charge.

Data Accessibility, Security and Privacy

Clio’s servers are all located in the US at Tier 4, SAS 70 Type II-approved data centers renown for hosting many of the most high-profile and well recognized websites and services on the internet. Communications with Clio are secured using 256-bit SSL encryption – the same strength of encryption using for banking transactions – which means you can securely use Clio even on an unsecured, open wireless connection.

We’re also big believers in data portability, and in no way try to lock you into Clio by making it difficult to get your data out.

For example, if you look at the following blog series, we detail the mechanisms by which we make your data easily exportable from Clio. One of our unique tools to help put your mind at ease is a Data Escrow service, where we escrow your data with a completely independent third-party provider. You can read more about what we’re doing to help keep your data available and secure here:

  • Data Accessibility
  • Data Security
  • Data Privacy

We also make it easy to export all of your data from Clio with a single click.

Cost

Clio is free for the first 30 days so you can see if it’s a good fit for your firm without any upfront investment. If you choose to continue with the subscription, it would cost $49/month/attorney, and $25/month/support staff.

In your case – with two attorney and four support staff users – you’d be looking at $198/month or $2376/year. Considering the central role Clio will play in your firm – and the value you’ll be expecting to extract from it – we think that’s an easy-to-justify investment.

Jack Newton is the president and co-founder of Themis Solutions, the makers of Clio law practice management software.