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Cloudy with a Chance of #Growth

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by Laurence Colletti

ClioAfter returning from the Clio Cloud Conference in Chicago, Illinois, we had much to do and lots to think about. All in all we captured 15 interviews with about half in panel format. In a whirlwind of edits, titles, and descriptions, it took me a while to process what we’d seen. I read the tweets of others, conversed prolifically at social events, and consulted the blog of Legal Talk Network host Bob Ambrogi. What came into focus was subtle, at least at first.

To date, most of the legal conferences we’ve attended have been about access to justice, lack of technology in the legal profession, and the future of law. What hasn’t been present—unless I missed something—was real talk about growth. Sure, most of us have encountered presentations and platforms that delve into productivity and efficiency, which are pathways to growth, but I am talking about real growth as opposed to doing more with less.

Perhaps it’s the third cup of coffee talking, but I noticed a whisper of something new in the Windy City. Attendees were past the point of mulling over the problems and uncertainty with the legal profession. It was like the tide rolled out revealing a paradigm of yep… we are here, but that’s where we’re going. It seemed that the time for asking questions and making calculations was giving way to action.

For me, this whisper started with Jack Newton’s interview about his keynote address. In it, we talked about the growth of his company and the need to provide effortless service where clients are collaborators and friction points are reduced. Client loyalty is not built upon providing delight, rather it’s about making the service as effortless and pain-free as possible. This, Jack believes, is what clients are looking for, and those lawyers that are able to provide it will be rewarded by new and repeat business.

Jack’s point was reinforced when we interviewed Professor David Wilkins from Harvard Law School. Professor Wilkins shared with us a story about his ill-fated Mac computer that suffered death-by-beverage. When he ultimately replaced his machine, he was pleased to discover that the new one was faster, better, and cheaper. He furthered that consumers are increasingly expecting this with everything they buy, because they have more information at their fingertips than ever before. Sounds great, but there’s a limit on this “more-for-less” when you expect to grow. According to Professor Wilkins, collaboration is the key. By that he means collaboration with other lawyers and clients—emphasis on clients. Lawyers that are able to collaborate will find new ways to increase their value, decrease expense to clients, and, yes, grow their practice.

Building upon the points made by Jack and Professor Wilkins are remarks by Legalzoom CEO John Suh. After an extended Q&A session following his keynote, John was gracious enough to join us for a late afternoon interview. During our time together, we talked about the two most efficient types of law firm from the perspective of billable hours: big law firms and firms of 11-20 attorneys.

Using that as a basis for comparison to smaller firms, John’s analysis reveals that solos and small firms have a lot of untapped billable potential and produce specialists at a much slower rate. From that perspective, growth opportunities are more limited for the vast majority of practitioners, but there’s hope. John shared some of the lessons he learned at the helm of Legalzoom. First, a big firm model is not ideal for every client. This is especially true in terms of their relatively high attorney’s fees. Second, by using modern day platforms for acquiring clients, lawyers can create sustainable growth in their practice by adhering to three principles: transparency, streamlining, and accountability.

By way of transparency, John recommends setting clear expectations when it comes to cost. Even if an exact figure cannot be reached, you should go over what drives expense, provide best estimations, and give a rough idea of how long a matter will take. As for streamlining, John refers to communication. When explaining concepts to clients, lawyers should curb the desire to use legalease and invest more thought into writing simply and speaking plainly. And finally, there’s accountability by participating in online reviews. Attorneys that brave both the good and the bad reviews are building public trust with potential clients. That trust is valuable currency in the brave new world of providing legal services.

These are but a few of the many growth ideas discussed at the Clio Cloud Conference. If you are looking to expand your firm and improve your deliverables as an attorney, you should definitely listen to our collection of interviews—listed below. This collection of recordings feature many thought provoking conversations with industry thought leaders like:  

Special Reports from the Event:

You can also download and listen to all of these interviews on your mobile device here: Special Reports in iTunes.

Clio Cloud 2015: Effortless Services with Clio CEO Jack Newton

Clio Co-Founder and CEO Jack Newton sits down to talk about effortless services, the educational tracks at Clio Cloud Conference, and new features within the Clio platform designed to help lawyers grow their practices. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Effortless Services with Clio CEO Jack Newton

Clio Cloud 2015: Democratization of Law with Legalzoom CEO John Suh

Legalzoom CEO John Suh stops by to talk about efficient law firm models and three principles of growth for solos and small firms. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Democratization of Law with Legalzoom CEO John Suh

Clio Cloud 2015: The Global Age of More for Less with Professor David Wilkins

Professor David Wilkins of Harvard Law School joins us to discuss ‘The Global Age of More for Less’ which includes growth topics about globalization, speed of technology, and changing client preferences. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: The Global Age of More for Less with Professor David Wilkins

Clio Cloud 2015: The Supreme Court’s Bubble with Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick

Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate, stops by to talk about her beat covering the Supreme Court, predictions for the upcoming SCOTUS session, and the types of lawyers that can make it all the way to our highest court. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: The Supreme Court’s Bubble with Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick

Clio Cloud 2015: Knowledge Management with Connie Crosby

Connie Crosby, a knowledge management consultant, sits down to discuss the importance of managing legacy knowledge within law firms to make sure it’s stored and protected against loss in the event of employee turnover and death. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Knowledge Management with Connie Crosby

Clio Cloud 2015: Leveraging APIs for Better Practice Management

Dan Lear, Avvo’s director of industry relations; Debbie Mignola, founder and CEO of Intake 123; and practicing attorney Sam Redlich join host Adriana Linares to discuss leveraging APIs for better practicing management. If you use multiple software platforms during your day, you should tune in to hear about ways to use them more efficiently. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Leveraging APIs for Better Practice Management

Clio Cloud 2015: Professionalism as a Survival Strategy with Jayne Reardon

Jayne Reardon, executive director of the Commission on Professionalism to the Illinois Supreme Court, stops by to talk about ABA Model Rules, possible changes thereof, and alternative business structures in law firms. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Professionalism as a Survival Strategy with Jayne Reardon

Clio Cloud 2015: A Fireside Legal Chat about Outsourcing and Project Management

Basha Rubin, co-founder and CEO of Priori Legal, Mirra Levitt, co-founder and general counsel for Priori Legal, and Agile Certified Scrum Master John E. Grant stop by to talk about outsourcing, lean/agile principles, and where clients are looking for lawyers. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: A Fireside Legal Chat about Outsourcing and Project Management

Clio Cloud 2015: The Experts Discuss Online Marketing Strategies for Law Firms

Gyi Tsakalakis, founder of AttorneySync, Eva Hibnick, co-founder of One400, and Allen Rodriguez, co-founder of One400, catch up with hosts Adriana Linares and Jason Marsh to discuss local search, reviews, experiential marketing, and much, much more. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: The Experts Discuss Online Marketing Strategies for Law Firms

Clio Cloud 2015: Innovational Law Practices and Lasting Digital Brands

Peter Carayiannis, founder of Conduit Law, David Sparks, co-host of Mac Power Users Podcast, Shantelle Argyle, co-founder of Open Legal Services, and Julie Tolek, founder of Think Pink Law, sit down to talk about efficiency tools like Slack, Sanebox, and Lexicata as well as the three P’s of building digital brands: passion, personality, and persuasion. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Innovational Law Practices and Lasting Digital Brands

Clio Cloud 2015: Technology Trends and Firm Performance

Billie Tarascio, family law lawyer and entrepreneur, Mary Juetten, founder and CEO of Traklight, and Duncan Stewart, director of TMT research for Deloitte Canada, sit down to discuss measuring law firm business performance and predictions for communicating with clients in the future: Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Technology Trends and Firm Performance

Clio Cloud 2015: Applied Lessons from Modern Data Operations

Fraser Newton, Clio’s lead scientist, and George Psiharis, Clio’s vice president of Business Development, stop by to talk about what law firms can learn from their sales team in the form of key performance indicators. If you are interested in growing your legal practice, you should definitely tune in. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Applied Lessons from Modern Data Operations

Clio Cloud 2015: Work-Life Balance for Lawyers with Jeena Cho

Attorney, author, and mindfulness teacher Jeena Cho joins us for a discussion about work-life balance and to perform a two minute guided meditation on the air. Tune in to hear how she overcame burnout to live a happier healthier life. Listen here: Clio Cloud 2015: Work-Life Balance for Lawyers with Jeena Cho

Clio Cloud 2015: The Globalized Market of Legal Services

Michele DeStefano, professor of law from University of Miami and founder of LawWithoutWall, and Michael Mills, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Neota Logic, Inc. stop by to discuss technology and globalization as well as interstate business models and collaboration. Tune in to hear what both the American Bar Association and law schools can do to help lawyers keep up with future trends. Listen Here: Clio Cloud 2015: The Globalized Market of Legal Services

Clio Cloud 2015: Washington State’s Limited License Legal Technicians

Patrick Palace joins Bob Ambrogi for a conversation about the adoption of the Limited License Legal Technician Rule in Washington State. Together, they discuss licensing for LLLTs, how this program will address the justice gap, and opportunities for future collaboration. Listen Here: Clio Cloud 2015: Washington State’s Limited License Legal Technicians

We hope you found this series of podcast interviews covering the Clio Cloud Conference informative and entertaining. If you liked what you heard, you can find more like it on our Special Reports channel in iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and LegalTalkNetwork.