CLIO: Making Lawyers Efficient, Paperless and Mobile
The Tech Start for Law (“TSL”) program, launched on 1 March 2017, is a joint initiative by Law Society, Ministry of Law and SPRING Singapore. It provides funding support of 70% of the first-year cost of adopting technology products for practice management, online research and online marketing to Singapore law practices.
To-date, more than 70 law firms have successfully tapped on the TSL to subsidize their adoption of legal technology tools.
Here we spotlight one of the more popular practice management tools approved for funding support under the TSL program, CLIO practice management system (PMS).
CLIO is a cloud-based PMS with over 160,000 users over 76 countries, the most popular in the world today.
Clio Users in Singapore
There are more than 45 law practices using CLIO in Singapore.
Clio is especially popular with boutique law firms, headed by progressive and enterprising partners.
The archetypal Clio law firm is forward-looking, with 1- 8 persons, and led by experienced practitioners between 35 – 50 years of age. Despite having cut their teeth working at well-resourced mid-size or large law firms, they recognise that things can be done differently, and, when they start their own practices, opt for modern, paper-less, technology-driven set-ups, where Small is the New Big.
Clio lawyers run very lean practices with minimal (1 staff for every 3 or 4 or even 5 lawyers) to no (if a solo practice) support staff. They engage outsourced services on an as-need basis, such as bookkeeping, bulk digitizing, printing, trial bundling support services.
The office is likely to be a virtual office, or a co-working space with shared receptionist and meeting rooms. Needless to say, you won’t see paper stacks in these firms; their default paper management protocol is scan and shred.
For these practitioners, good technology is a key pillar of their practice.
They love Clio’s clean modern eye-candy interface and rich features (which go well beyond the more accounting focused functionalities in other PMS). In place of paper files bound with pink string, they save and retrieve all case related information – including tasks, calendar dates, documents and emails related to a case – into and from Clio.
They use Clio’s automated time recording, disbursement and automated bill generation functions to reduce time spent on financial administration, and Clio’s client account management functions to ensure compliance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules.
These lawyers love being able to work from anywhere using the Clio mobile app. The ability to work on the go – retrieve documents, check client’s details or invoice/ payment/ client account records, and to log time or record an attendance note – brings much freedom and productivity.
From a tech perspective, Clio is way ahead of its competitors in its third-party app integrations. Clio works well with email and calendars (Gmail, Office365), document management (Dropbox, OneDrive), accounting (Xero, Quickbooks), marketing and client intake (Lexicata), and many other applications.
Clio makes its API (Application Programming Interface) publicly available, and Bizibody has used it to develop integrations with our other legal technology tools.
Many Clio practitioners are established legal practitioners. This means they were trained in law firms where workflows were primarily paper-based.
Why did these lawyers decide to eschew traditional time-worn paper-based case management, and how did they overcome the initial challenges of working paperlessly, and learning Clio?
To better understand how Clio can benefit a law firm and the challenges moving from paper-based to paper-less practice, we invited several lawyers to share their experiences with running a technology driven, paper-less practice and how it has helped them to realise their vision for their practices.
Propelling a Personal Vision for Your Practice
Eden Law Corporation was established with the aim of ensuring access to justice. For them, doing good and running a successful legal practice are not mutually exclusive. They aspire to be the premier ‘low-bono’ firm in Singapore,
Earlier this month, they were awarded the AWARE Champions for Gender Equality and Justice award. June Lim, Founder and Director of Eden Law shares how Clio has helped Eden Law realise their low-bono vision:
“As Eden Law is focused on access to justice for underprivileged communities in Singapore, we recognised that we had to leverage heavily on technology to reduce costs so that the costs savings could be passed on to our clients. Hence, the firm was set up to be as paper-less as possible and in a manner that would allow our lawyers to work from anywhere. Clio is one of the key pillars of our paper-less practice, enabling us to access our client’s information, documents, invoices, outstanding monies owed etc. at any time. It also saves our lawyers time since we can enter our time costs after meetings or Court attendances on the go. The firm has grown in a short span of 2 years, and we have signed up for additional CLIO licenses, which allows us to build on our existing paper-less infrastructure in an inexpensive manner.”
Integro Law Chambers is a firm that believes that mediation should be the default first stop for couples contemplating divorce.
Its founder, Angelina Hing, spent 7 years as a District Judge in the Family Justice Courts and was involved in the Court’s initiatives to provide mediation and protect the well-being of children involved.
She explains her motivations for running a modern, paperless office, and how she overcame her aversion to technology.
“Making the move to set up my own family law practice was in itself a huge step for me. But I felt strongly that the conventional way of practising family law (in an adversarial fashion) had to fundamentally change. I wanted my practice to be more collaborative, and I wanted to offer my clients, including lawyers, the option of mediating at my offices even before commencing legal proceedings. To do that, I needed an office which was big enough to conduct private mediations. I also needed it to be clutter-free and be conducive for parties to talk through difficult issues. Clio is user friendly and competitively priced. The software is a good organiser for my client’s database needs. It is a cloud-based software, which means that I do not have to worry about updating it, and it conveniently allows me to access Clio from anywhere, with any device with a web browser to obtain information on my cases and even manage my appointment calendar offsite. My office gets updated right away with my updates offsite.
“I decided to overcome my own aversion to technology and determine to learn the workings of the software from scratch. Of course, there were some difficulties in the beginning. But it is a matter of biting the bullet and working through them.”
Small is the New Big
Two commercial litigators from large Singapore law firms, who started solo practices with a vision to undertake high-value commercial litigation with minimal paper, space and support staff also shared how Clio has helped them realise their vision
“Clio has become an indispensable practice management tool for my solo practice. It’s intuitive, well thought out and well designed, with just the right number of features. No unnecessary bells and whistles.”
– Chua Sui Tong, Manging Director, Rev Law LLC
“My main motivation to adopt a PMS was so I could save time by not having to deal with clerical and filing work, and lowering costs by not needing additional space for storage.. It has made it possible to operate the firm without support staff.”
– Derek Tan, Managing Director, Stoa Law
Whilst technology is a great disruptor, it is also a great leveller and can bring significant opportunities to law firms willing to embrace technology and change the way they run their practice.
Studies have shown that going paperless could potentially reduce 66% of operating costs1In a diagnostic and analytical study conducted by Eden Strategy Institute, consultants commissioned by the Law Society on the technological needs of small to mid-sized law firms.. However beyond cost savings, Clio is helping these practitioners realise their vision for their law practice.
The TSL grant, which provides 70% funding of the first-year cost of adopting Clio PMS and other software, is available up to 28 February 2018. Contact Bizibody Technology Pte Ltd ([email protected]; Tel 6521 7022) to arrange a demo for your firm.
|↑1||In a diagnostic and analytical study conducted by Eden Strategy Institute, consultants commissioned by the Law Society on the technological needs of small to mid-sized law firms.|