Starting your own law firm can be a daunting task for any solo attorney. What new trends will help you manage your practice and how can you harness available technology to better communicate with your clients?
In this episode of The New Solo, host Adriana Linares speaks with Clio CEO Jack Newton, who shares what he believes are two big trends in practice management. Jack discusses client portals and lists the benefits, such as document management and security, that having a collaborative way to communicate directly with your clients provides. He analyzes the advantages that leveraging this technology gives law firms and the convenience it provides lawyers and consumers of legal services. He also talks about campaign tracking which enables law firms to track their marketing channels and determine what kind of return on investment they are receiving from those endeavors.
Jack briefly touches on the 2016 Clio Cloud Conference and says this year’s event will focus on helping lawyers take their practices to the next level by embracing the cloud.
Jack Newton is the founder of Clio, one of the pioneers of cloud-based practice management. Jack has spearheaded efforts to educate the legal community on the security-, ethics- and privacy-related issues surrounding cloud computing, and has become a nationally recognized writer and speaker on these topics.
Jack has recently joined the board of the International Legal Technology Standards Organization (ILTSO), where he will help the organization craft standards for law office technology. He also co-founded and is acting president of the Legal Cloud Computing Association (LCCA), a consortium of leading cloud computing providers with a mandate to help accelerate the adoption of cloud computing in the legal industry.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Solo Practice University and Clio.
New Trends in Practice Management
Adriana Linares: Hey New Solo listeners, it’s me your host, Adriana Linares. The episode you are about to listen to is with Jack Newton, the CEO of Clio, and between recording that episode with Jack and releasing that episode with Jack, they became the sponsors for this show, which I am really excited about.
So I wanted to make sure I stepped in ahead of time and let you know to listen on through, it’s not an infomercial, we do talk about Clio at the beginning a little bit, but of course we do because it’s a great product. So charge on, it’s going to be great information, whether you are a Clio user or not and I want to make sure and thank them for becoming our sponsor.
So let’s go ahead and jump right into my interview with Jack Newton.
Intro: So you are an attorney and you have decided to go out on your own, now what, you need a plan and you are not alone. Join expert host Adriana Linares and our distinguished guests on New Solo. Tune into the lively conversation as they share insights and information about how to successfully run your law firm, here on Legal Talk Network.
Adriana Linares: Hello and welcome to New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I am your host Adriana Linares. Thanks for listening. I have got Jack Newton on the line today. Hey Jack.
Jack Newton: Hello.
Adriana Linares: Jack, you are the CEO of a — I mean do you still call yourself a startup eight years later, investors later, hundreds of thousands of clients later, when do we stop calling you a startup at Clio?
Jack Newton: I still call us a startup because I think being a startup is kind of a mentality thing around being scrappy and focusing on growth. So I like to think of ourselves as a startup, but we are also a 200 person company now and really more established than most startups would be. So I think that’s a fair point, but I will take the startup label happily, because I think it’s more of a mindset than a stage thing.
Adriana Linares: Well, good. Well, I like it too. So you are the CEO of a 200 person company, you at Clio, the collective, the whole, the body develop cloud-based practice management software that hopefully most people have heard of by now, but just in case they haven’t, tell us a little bit about Clio.
Jack Newton: Yeah, so Clio is cloud-based practice management software that lets you do everything from client intake, to time tracking, to calendaring, to document management, to invoicing, to accepting credit card payments, to collaborating electronically with your clients, and really everything you need to run law practice in a box. It’s one product that is fully integrated that can help you run virtually every aspect of your law practice.
Adriana Linares: And one of the things that I like about Clio so much, Clio has been, for me, a very valuable tool in helping lawyers. Well, first of all, I actually use Clio as a consultant in my practice as a consultant, but of course helping lawyers figure out what software to use. One of the things that I think sets Clio apart from a lot of other tools, which there are a lot of other great tools out there, is the idea that you all have what’s called an open API, right?
Jack Newton: Right.
Adriana Linares: So the things that Clio isn’t built to do on purpose, because I am sure you guys focus on what you are good at, other companies can jump in and help with. Do you want to talk a little bit about that, because I think that’s — the partners you all have are so amazing, that add-on layers of —
Jack Newton: Right. Yeah, it’s a great observation and I think something we have done differently as a company is in building very explicitly from the get-go a platform that other companies can develop on top of so that Clio can become more specialized and well adapted to a specific law firm’s needs, without us necessarily having to develop all of that functionality ourselves, which of course we would never be able to do.
So to give you a couple of examples, we have decided we don’t want to try to reinvent the accounting wheel, we think that’s been done and done very well by others. So we integrate with companies like Xero and Intuit that have built on top of the platform to extend Clio’s accounting capabilities into a full and very sophisticated suite of tools.
Lexicata is another great example of an integration partner; a smaller company than Lexicata, Intuit obviously, but they have created a bunch of lead management related tools that help you track kind of the pre-client aspect of your lead acquisition funnel and understand how to nurture and how to advance leads so that they become clients. And they have built a really great tool that integrates really tightly with the Clio platform and helped address a pain point that many of our customers had that they can now address with this tool from Lexicata.
There is now over 50 integration partners on the platform that have built everything from email tracking tools, to solutions that specifically meet the needs of a specific practice area, like IP lawyers, and I am just so excited to see that energy around the Clio platform, and you can see it firsthand at the Clio Cloud Conference, and you have been there Adriana.
Adriana Linares: Yeah.
Jack Newton: When the exhibit floor is filled up, not just with a bunch of random vendors, but a bunch of companies that have built on top of the Clio platform and helped extend the platform in a really meaningful way.
Adriana Linares: They are part of the ecosystem. Yeah, I love that. My favorites, I will just rattle off, aside from Lexicata, which I think is a really cool tool to layer on top, Ruby Receptionists, which so many people use already. And the Court Rules, I think the Court Rules is so cool that you can actually pick your jurisdiction and pick the issue and then it will calculate and calendar dates based on Court Rules I think is amazing. So yeah, so you guys have done an amazing job.
Jack Newton: Fastcase we should mention as well. Fastcase is another killer integration.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, that’s right. That is so amazing that you can track your time inside of Fastcase and apply it to a client matter and create a time entry that can quickly turn into a bill is pretty cool. So no, I really applaud Clio for having that open API, but also for the development that it does and has on its own.
And one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about is, you are a leader in the business and in the industry, and of course, you have got hundreds of thousands of clients that are constantly feeding you information about what the profession is interested in, and of course, I imagine that most of your clients are solos, smalls and maybe midsize, and this show is called New Solo, so it’s here to help new solos figure out how to run their practice better.
I am wondering what you think are maybe a couple of the coolest, newest, hottest, most interesting trends, and I hate to say that because I don’t want it to sound as if this is a rubber bracelet that teenagers are going to wear for a few months and then they are going to move on to leather bracelet because it’s a trend. I want to know from your end, like what are you seeing that’s becoming interesting and you are pretty sure is going to stick?
Jack Newton: So a couple of things. I think one of the bets I would make most confidently around something that’s starting to trend but will definitely stick long-term is this idea of client portals. Client portals are basically a way where you can collaborate with your clients directly via a secure website or a secure application. So rather than using email, for example, to collaborate with your clients, you can shift all of that communication over to one of these client portals, which is basically, think of it as a more secure version of the Facebook Messenger App, for example. So you can securely communicate with your clients in a completely encrypted environment.
And this has a few benefits. One, document management is much superior than over email, for any of us that have gone through the agony of long email threads with document versions being attached to every other thread on that email. It ends up being impossible to track who made which changes, what’s the most current version, who are we waiting on for the latest turn on the document, whatever the case might be, that that turns into a nightmare and is much better done through a centralized location, where you can have that document version control lockdown and managed much more centrally.
You can see all the comments from various parties in one location, which is a big benefit, and it’s secure. And email, to many peoples’ surprise, is not actually secure. Email is an unencrypted communication protocol, which the ABA for the time being has deemed to provide a reasonable expectation 09:09, so you are not violating any ethics rules by utilizing email, at this point in time at least.
But I think especially in a post-Snowden world, we are going to see evolving client expectations around privacy. And if you are dealing with highly sensitive documents, or even moderately sensitive documents, sending it out over an unencrypted channel that you know is subject to wiretapping, subject to NSA surveillance, subject to a bad actor getting in the middle of the communication and eavesdropping on it, you really should be considering a more secure mode of communication and these client portals provide that.
Over and above the security consideration client portals just provide a lot of convenience to your clients, and we have actually seen — so Clio by the way, just to throw a bit of a plug in here, Clio provides a built-in client portal that comes for free with your Clio subscription, and there are a number of other providers that provide integrated client portals with their practice management systems as well. So this isn’t something that I am pitching as something that’s a big added expense to you; this is integrated into something that practice management systems already have.
There is even client portals that you can use like Basecamp, for example, which is a very affordable service that provides some of the same functionality without the integrated practice management component, but if you are looking for a standalone client portal, something like Basecamp could help fit this need as well.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, there are certainly a lot of options in the market.
Jack Newton: There are a lot of them.
Adriana Linares: Yeah, but I think that if you are paying for a practice management program and there is one that’s included for every single individual matter to have its own client portal, I definitely think — I love client portals and I want more and more attorneys using them for the secure communications that they provide certainly, but also for the general organization of an archival of matters once they are — when they are active and once they are closed, I think.
Jack Newton: And your clients love them. So you not only love them for the convenience they afford you, but your clients will love them and love you by extension for making this available to them and making the documents that you produce for them, for example, available to them conveniently in a centralized location, and when they realize a year from now or five years from now, hey, I need that document again, they have got one place to go and log on.
That’s the reason that the client will come back to you the next time they need work done. You are creating this convenient long running platform that you are communicating with them through, and a repository of all your work products. So it’s just one of the ways you can create a great competitive advantage for yourself.
Adriana Linares: And to secure that relationship or enhance it.
Jack Newton: And make it secure, that’s my number one pick for emerging technologies that I think are a big win right now and going to become table stakes over time.
Adriana Linares: Well, before I ask you for your next big one, we are going to take a quick break to hear a message from our sponsors, which I am so happy to report, Clio is a new sponsor of New Solo. So thank you so much Jack. But hold on just a second, we will come back after we hear this quick message.
Clio is an invaluable software solution for law firms of all sizes, handling all the demands of your growing practice from a single cloud-based platform. Clio enhances your firm with features such as matter and document management, time tracking, and even billing. Clio is an effortless tool that helps lawyers focus on what they do best, practice law. Learn more at HYPERLINK “http://www.clio.com” clio.com.
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Adriana Linares: Welcome back to New Solo. I am Adriana Linares and with me today is Jack Newton. He is the CEO of Clio, a well-known and I do believe the very first practice management program that was placed in the cloud, and is affordable and wonderful.
Before we left off, Jack and I were talking about one of our emerging technology that we love, and that’s the secure client portals that are available through products just like Clio. And Jack, you said that that was your first, does that mean you have a second emerging trend that you are seeing and hearing about through your experience with so many lawyers out there in the field, what is it?
Jack Newton: Yeah, I have a second pick I want to throw out there. I think it is an especially useful technology for your audience, the new solos to be aware of, and it relates to marketing and lawyers getting better at optimizing their marketing spend. The landscape has changed on this front really dramatically.
There is a famous quote around marketing from the 1950s which is, I know I am wasting half my marketing budget, I just don’t know which half. In a lot of ways that’s the current state of affairs in legal marketing. And if you are a new solo, you are setting up your law practice, you are naturally wondering what’s one of the most crucial questions, which is where to start, how do I get clients, do I take out a yellow pages ad, do I take out one of those billboard ads on the freeway, do I go and spend a bunch of money on Google AdWords, do I place an ad on Avvo, there is no shortage of ways to spend money in the hopes of acquiring clients.
But what lawyers want to be able to answer is the question, which of those channels is working, and by channel I mean one of those mediums basically. Google AdWords is a channel, billboard ads could be a channel.
Adriana Linares: Facebook is a channel. I just interviewed Shantelle Argyle from Open Legal Services out in Utah, and their only form of advertising right now are Facebook posts that they boost, and it’s worked so well that that’s all they have done.
Jack Newton: Yeah. And if you crack a new channel, there’s probably a lot of opportunity that hasn’t been fully exploited there that other firms will be eager to chase after, but if you are a groundbreaker on that front, you can gain an unreasonable competitive advantage.
So let me describe a new technology that we have launched at Clio and integrated into our product called Campaign Tracker, and what Campaign Tracker does is let you actually answer the question, which of my marketing channels is working well by following the money basically.
So as you invest in a channel like AdWords or a billboard ad, we allow you to track which leads come from those channels and then which leads convert to clients, and then because you are managing all of this within Clio, your practice management system, we can also track which leads convert into clients and then convert into billable revenue, and then we can close the loop and tell you what kind of ROI you are getting from those investments.
So we can say, if you spend $100 on Google AdWords, you will see $10,000 of billable time come out the other end. So we let you track that full investment and full ROI lifecycle, which is really powerful and lets you grow faster, because you can optimize your marketing bets and marketing spend more accurately.
Adriana Linares: That’s really amazing, and that’s certainly the type of information I would know or want to know I mean as a new solo, or really even as an old solo, or any size firm, I think that’s amazing that that is so readily available.
I mean, the old days you might have had to pay an SEO or a marketing specialist thousands of dollars a month to get you that type of information and when it can be built right into a day-to-day tool that you might use everyday that seems pretty valuable to me.
Jack Newton: Yeah, and you know what, lawyers spend and also waste a huge amount of money on online advertising that doesn’t work, and just as an interesting stat, 10 out of the top 10 most expensive AdWords bid on Google are bid on by lawyers. So these are — lawyers are spending a lot of money on online marketing spend, some of which just doesn’t work very well, and this tool lets you analyze what’s working well and what’s not, and the amazing thing is that you have the technologies available now to do a much better job of tracking that.
So I will give you very quickly a synopsis of how this technology works. Normally when the lawyer gets to the market, they would put their law firm’s phone number on every advertisement. So they would put their law firm phone number on the billboard ad, they would put their law firm phone number on the Google AdWord, they would put the same one in the yellow pages, and unless you ask somebody how they found out about you when they happened to phone in, you have no idea which of those channels was generating the lead for legal services.
The Campaign Tracker technology lets you generate a unique phone number for each of those channels, and when somebody phones into that unique phone number, it routes to your main phone number, but in the background it’s able to count the fact that that lead came in. We are even able to give you demographic information on who is phoning you, if we have that information available, we have a third party service we can use to enrich information about that lead that’s phoning in, and then we can track whether you convert that lead to a client over time.
So we give you this full lifecycle picture of the investments you are making and what investments are paying off. And it’s a game changer, and is really groundbreaking technology in that it’s taking technology that would normally only be available to firms that are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on marketing and hire, like you said, an army of marketing and SEO and SEM specialists to build out this system for them; we are making this accessible to the new solo, built right into our practice management platform.
So I think that’s the second technology that I think is definitely emerging and bleeding edge right now, that if you can leverage, you are going to gain an unreasonable competitive advantage over your peers who are not embracing that. And we will probably see this become more mainstream over time, but for the time being it’s a way that you can generate a big competitive advantage for yourself.
Adriana Linares: And do it right away. Well, Jack, I hate to wrap things up for us, but it looks like we have reached the end of our program, but before I let you go I do want you to tell everyone who is listening to this before September about Clio Con.
Jack Newton: Yeah, absolutely. So Clio Con, September 19 and 20 in Chicago.
Adriana Linares: Of 2016, I should say that.
Jack Newton: Of 2016. And it’s the best legal technology conference out there, and that is not me claiming that, that’s people like Bob Ambrogi and Adriana Linares and a bunch of other thought leaders in the legal technology space that think this is one of best legal technology conferences out there. It’s all about the cloud. It’s all about how we can take our practices to the next level by embracing the cloud and technology.
Adriana Linares: So Jack, wait a minute here, listen, before we go any further I feel like I should say something as the Chair of the ABA TECHSHOW 2017. It also is one of the best legal technology conferences out there.
Jack Newton: Absolutely. And I love the ABA TECHSHOW, and it’s where we launched Clio eight years ago, so that has a special place in my heart to be sure. And I had the honor of speaking at the ABA TECHSHOW for the very first time just a couple of months ago and I had a fantastic, fantastic time. I love the ABA TECHSHOW and I would characterize them as very different conferences, with different focuses.
Adriana Linares: So we want to say save the dates for both, so ABA TECHSHOW is in March of 2017, but Clio is coming up in September. I know you already have great speakers lined up. It’s going to be an energetic and amazing conference, and I think you all have a website dedicated just to — I think you can just Google Clio Con 2016 and it will take our listeners there who are interested in learning more and hopefully registering.
I think you might still have early bird, and it’s not a very expensive conference to start with, so I really hope our listeners go check it out and meet us there. I will be there.
Jack Newton: You get huge bang for your buck. Go to HYPERLINK “http://www.cliocloudconference.com” cliocloudconference.com and both Adriana and I will be there in person to have a great time with you. So I encourage you to check it out. And if you are interested, we still have tickets left, email me at HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected] and I will see what I can do about giving you a bit of a discount.
Adriana Linares: A discount for our New Solo listeners, I love that. Thank you, Jack.
Jack Newton: The early bird tickets are gone, but I would be happy to extend a discount to any of your listeners, Adriana, so HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected] and I will follow-up with you.
Adriana Linares: I won a discount thanks to New Solo. Jack, tell everybody how they can find, friend and follow you on the Internet?
Jack Newton: So I am, as I said HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected], if you want to drop me a line or have any questions about what we have talked about today. Clio, you can find out more information at HYPERLINK “http://www.clio.com” clio.com, and finally, one of the best ways to get a hold of me or if you want to keep track of what I am thinking about, follow me on Twitter at jack_newton.
Adriana Linares: Thanks so much Jack. Well, I am Adriana Linares. That brings us to the end of our show. Thank you so much for listening. Make sure to join us next time for another great episode. And remember, you are not alone, you are New Solo.
Outro: Thanks for listening to New Solo with host Adriana Linares. Tune in again to learn more about how to successfully run your new practice solo, here on Legal Talk Network.
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