In other words, the whole client file is basically right there at our fingertips to easily click to anything we need. How cool is that?
Second, Clio gives us a client-facing portal so that our clients can access their file and communicate with us. Using the portal, clients can upload documents (or any file) using a simple drag-and-drop utility. They can also use the portal to send secure messages to us. The portal has 256-bit SSL encryption, which is one heck of a lot safer than the old file cabinet. The client portal is really a critical feature set for us, since one of the principal reasons for us being on the cloud is to make it easier for clients to share information with us.
Probably my biggest pain point with Clio at the moment is that it doesn't include a forms feature, which we could use to gather information from our clients at intake and beyond. Its API allows integration of Intake 123, but that form-creating application doesn't meet all our needs either, and of course I also don't want to pay for a new application to deliver feature sets I wish were already included in Clio. A couple days ago I built an intake questionnaire on our website using the Wordpress plugin, Gravity Forms. So far that looks promising, and could be spliced together with Clio via a Zapier if I opt for a pricey developer license.
Finally, Clio allows us to manage billing and collect payments from clients. Hourly and flat-fee billing is easily integrated into client matters, and it takes only moments to generate a new bill. These may be shared with the client through the secure portal. We use LawPay for one of our credit card processors, which integrates with Clio. So when clients receive the bill they can simply scroll down and complete a credit card payment on the same screen. LawPay's rates are higher than other credit card processors, but they are one of only a couple processors that are able to process deposits to a client trust account. Also, their support is quite good.
In addition to simply meeting our needs from a feature perspective, what I really love about Clio is the excellent user experience. It looks great and operates intuitively from a user perspective, both for attorneys and for clients. That's absolutely paramount. If your clients are going to be interacting with your firm through an application, then their experience with the application is their experience with your firm. Almost all of my clients enjoy using Clio, which means extra kudos for their overall experience with the firm.
If you want to try Clio for free you can do so here.
My firm doesn't have a receptionist and never, ever will. Until recently we used Ruby Receptionist, which was aptly described by Ernie the Attorney as being the Seal Team Six of call-answering. Like other answering services, you point your in-bound phone lines at Ruby, and they answer calls following whatever instructions you give. It's hard to put my finger on why Ruby is so good, but basically these guys - mostly gals - are like client service ninjas. As a representative example, a Ruby called me one day to transfer a client call and heard Bollywood music playing in the background. Later that week a half dozen Bollywood DVDs showed up at the firm with a hand-written note from the Ruby. You can call that a gimmick, but I'm telling you, these folks know how to make you feel cared for, and more importantly, make your clients feel cared for. This is the most professional possible experience for clients calling your firm.
But I said we used Ruby until recently - why the change? Because we transitioned our firm's brick-and-mortar presence from our stand-alone office to a Regus facility. Most folks are familiar with Regus, which is a world-wide operation selling nice office space and ancillary services. There's a Regus office 10 minutes from my hotel in Kolkata which I could be using at no additional cost if I wanted. For the marginal cost of only $100/month I tacked-on call answering service to our service plan, compared to the $500-$600 I had been paying for Ruby. Frankly the quality is no where close to Ruby. I'll often get the receptionist calling to say that "someone" is on the line for me, whereas a Ruby wouldn't bother me until she'd taken down the caller's full name, contact information and favorite color. I'm hoping that we can work on the quality, but meanwhile I certainly don't mind the cost savings.
This one is a relatively recent experiment for us. As hard as we try to be paperless, you just can't always get away from it. In immigration practice, for example, the federal agencies insist on sending most notifications by snail mail. As a paperless practice, this means someone has to open and scan all the notifications. When we started outsourcing our back-office work last year, that meant there was no non-attorney on site at the firm, and my poor associate ended up with mail duty. That sucked for him and for the firm, since there were better uses of his time.
Enter Earth Class Mail (ECM). These guys, with locations all across the U.S., basically allow you to outsource your mail room. For roughly $125/month we get a mailing address in Seattle to which all of our snail mail gets sent. When it arrives, it automatically gets scanned and uploaded to this mailbox for my (or whomever's) review: