About Our Guest
Mark sits down for a conversation with Nefra MacDonald the Affinity Programs Manager at Clio – Cloud-Based Legal Technology. Her role gives her a very unique perspective as she works with bar associations across the country and speaks with lawyers nationwide.
In this episode of our bi-weekly ask the experts GNGF Live series, we’ll dive into combating the isolation felt by so many solo and small firms right now, the tech that is improving attornies quality of life, and then during the extended interview, Nefra talks about getting your law firm’s cash flow situated in our new remote-first reality.
– Thanks for joining us. This is our extended interview with Nefra MacDonald, the Affinity Programs Manager at Clio. The first part of this video is from our “GNGF Live”, which happens every other Wednesday over on our Facebook page. The second part here in this bonus, extended interview, we dive into more detail about what law firms can do to improve their cashflow right now, among other important practice management topics. If you already saw the live, I’ll put the timestamp to the exclusive extended interview below. Be sure to like and subscribe to follow along with our great conversations on legal marketing and the business side of running a law firm. And to watch this video on the platform of your choice, you can find everywhere we stream at gngf.tv. Welcome to “GNGF Live”, your biweekly ask the experts about all things law firm marketing and business growth. I’m Mark Homer, author of “Online Law Practice Strategies” and founder of Get Noticed, Get Found. On this show, we focus on the business side of growing and running your law firm. So I’m excited to have today’s guest, Nefra MacDonald from Clio. In her senior role as Affinity Programs Manager at Clio, Nefra builds partnerships with bar associations and drives overall brand awareness for the legal software giant, Clio. She’s also a speaker focusing on legal tech and wellness. In fact, I’ve been fortunate to share the stage, or lately, the virtual stage, with Nefra about half a dozen times or more, so I know you want to stick around to listen to what she has to share. And I want to thank you for joining us today. So be sure to like and subscribe to our page, not just the video, so you can get updated when our next episode goes live. Of course, it never hurts for you to show it just a little love and take a couple extra seconds to hit that like button on the video. It really helps us with the Facebook and the YouTube algorithms. And remember, we’ve got moderators in the chat. So please ask questions and interact during the premiere. And if you’re watching this in the future, after the premiere, we do monitor the comments and we’ll reach out to our guests and answer any followup questions you have. That’s because we love you all, and we love getting to meet you online and in-person. So you can find a list of our upcoming webinars and events where we’ll be speaking on our website at gngf.com/events. And on weeks when we’re not premiering an interview, we drop a video as part of our GNGF tip series. And these are in-depth videos focusing on one topic at a time. So check it out on our YouTube page or by heading to gngf.tv. And you can watch our latest video after this interview, of course, at the link in the chat. So check them out. Like I said, we drop a new GNGF tips video every other Friday. Okay. Let’s get the interview. Nefra, thanks for joining me today.
– Thanks for having me, Mark. Awesome. Well, I’m so glad that you took the time to speak with me because you and I have, like, spoken on countless, like, webinars and shared the stage and did conferences and stuff. So I know, like, all this awesome stuff you have and I wanted to get it out to the audience. But for the benefit of the audience, tell us a little about yourself and your journey in legal technology and what you’re doing at Clio now.
– Yeah, so I am the Affinity Programs Manager at Clio, and I’m based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’ve been in legal for over 10 years. I started off my first job out of college as a file clerk and legal assistant at a personal injury firm and realized, you know what? I think I can do with this lawyer is doing, and decided to go to law school. And during law school, figured out that this was probably a way too high-stress profession for me, but I was still really interested in being a part of the industry and seeing what I could do to kind of mitigate some of that stress that lawyers feel. So the lens that I come at legal from is trying to help the lawyers that I love run a better business, but also from a wellness lens, and trying to introduce some work-life integration, work-life balance, if that’s the term that you’d like to use. So that’s kind of like where my passion for being a part of this industry and legal tech in particular comes from. So I’ve been in the legal tech industry for the past five years. And a little bit about Clio. So we were the first practice management software on the market that was in the cloud. And at first, that was something that was really difficult for us to sell to lawyers. So one of the tactics and approaches that we took was partnering with bar associations. And so as the Affinity Programs Manager at Clio, I have the pleasure of managing those relationships. And that enables me to travel around the country and meet lawyers in-person, talk to our bar partners in-person and see where we can be a good fit. We offer a lot of thought leadership in the legal space. And I love that in the past few months in 2020, we’ve been able to really lead the industry through this time. But we’re not just a thought leadership company, we have two products. We have Clio Manage, which is our flagship product. And that covers things like time in billing, calendaring, document management, basically the central hub for everything that lawyers do, with 200-plus integration partners. And we acquired a company called Lexicata a couple of years ago, and that is now Clio Grow. And so that manages the client intake process, the CRM capabilities, e-signatures, trying to take that marketing sales, closing a client process digital instead of making it very cumbersome, heavy on paper and heavy on admin work. We’re trying to cut back on that, through the use of that product.
– Awesome. So with the travel to bar associations, I’m assuming that’s been cut way back. Yeah. It’s been an adjustment for sure. And I miss seeing people’s faces. And I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to shake anyone’s hand again. So Mark, I’m really glad that we’ve shaken hands. We’ve gotten some hugs in there because, who knows when that’s going to happen again? But one of the things I’m really proud of with my team is that in addition to managing those bar association relationships, they are managing a live events program that took us through 120 events a year, whether they were ones that we were sponsoring and attending or ones that we were curating ourselves. And that entire strategy has pivoted virtual and we’ve done it seamlessly. And I feel like we’re really engaging so many more people and actually getting to talk about the things that we really want to talk about and the things that are timely. As the months passed, the things that we were talking about at the beginning of all of this aren’t as relevant anymore, but they were necessary at the time. We’ve been really agile and been able to shift our strategy and bring people really valuable information and insights when they need it.
– So speaking of that, I mean, with, with COVID-19, I mean, you’re out there talking and listening doing, I mean, I think you do as much listening to lawyers and asking questions and stuff as you guys do with helping, which I think is an awesome trait. Not just out there trumpeting what your product does, but literally listening to the legal industry and saying, what can everybody do better? So how is the legal industry dealing with the challenges of COVID-19? I mean, you’ve, like you said, started from kind of like, oh no, what do we do to where we’re at today.
– Yeah, I think at the beginning it was just, it was really isolating. And speaking from personal experience, I was used to all that in-person contact. And I definitely felt that isolation. And especially for people that are solo, they’re very small law firms, it probably felt like we were more in a bubble than they were already. But I think one of the big things that has emerged from this is increased community, increased legal community, but also pulling in people that are experts in the field to get an idea of what do we do now, what do we do next? Where are things heading? And that community helped us to try to predict some trends, learn best practices and help law firms and each other, just make it to the other side of this successfully. So part of that listening, the first thing our CEO did when this all happened was throw out a tweet and sent out an email to all of our users saying, hey, we’re listening. What’s happening? What do you need? What can we do to help? And one of the things that came out of that, that I’m so proud of is our COVID-19 impact research. We produce a document every year called “The Legal Trends Report”. And we work with industry experts in research. We’re not necessarily the ones that are great at all of these statistics, although we are a very data-driven company, but we work with people that are experts in research to produce this piece of research every year. We’re leaning on our experience with working with law firms for the past 12 years and using that to shape the research and create a narrative and a message and predictions around what’s happening in the industry and where the industry needs to go. So during this time, I think everyone was looking to find out, what’s happening in bankruptcy, what’s happening in my state? How are people reacting to this? How are legal consumers feeling? So-
– They want to know, right? They want to know, is this just me? Or is everybody dealing with this, like, my phone’s not ringing kind of problem or whatever. Yeah. I mean-
– Yeah. So a lot of community is, has been built around this. Like, I think, Mark, when we started doing some of these virtual webinars in the early days of all of this, that’s a lot of the questions that we were being asked is like, okay, so phones aren’t ringing. What am I supposed to do now? Or can I ramp up my social media today and get clients tomorrow? And we were trying to answer those questions for people just based on what we were seeing, dealing with a lot of different legal professionals. So this was a great way for us to bring together all of those sentiments into a single piece of research that’s being updated on a continuous basis. So we started doing this research in early April, produced our first report in May, and we’ve been doing monthly updates to that research since. And we just wanted to give people a place to understand the challenges the industry is facing and give them the data to help overcome it. And just trying to give people practical advice and data to help deal with the issues that we’re facing now and adapt as things evolve.
– Yeah, and it’s been very, I think, nice for law firms. And I think, by the way, “The Legal Trends Report”, let alone the COVID-focused, kind of like, updates you guys have been doing have been referenced at least three or four times in the last few interviews I’ve had, right? I mean, so it is a seminal piece every year that people rely on for kind of directional information and, what are we doing wrong, what we do better in the legal industry? So the interesting thing though, is like, you were able to show that, hey, we’re kind of coming out of like the dark place and kind of heading directionally up to getting back to business. Phones are ringing again, people are opening cases more often, like, the data that you guys have access to has been providing, like, maybe like the light at the end of the kind of conversations, right? It’s like, oh, okay. And we’re hearing it from clients kind of going, oh, maybe I can open up my investment a little bit more and get back into some of the paid advertising that I paused or things like that, right? Like it’s kind of this, this release. But it took that, looking around knowing, is it just me or is it, oh, okay, like it’s not just me getting a few more cases, everybody’s getting a few more cases now. And I think that-
– Yeah, you want people to be hopeful and also realistic. The data helps you to make better, more informed, calculated decisions for your business. And that’s something I’m so proud of. And I think, too, we’re seeing a lot of law firms see the positive side of this with the initial rush to adopt adopt technology in order to be able to function in this environment. That investment is paying dividends in ways that we wouldn’t typically think of. Like, you’re like, okay, now I can communicate with people from my home office. But there are things emerging, like quality of life. So for example, in the last update that we released, we saw that 60% of law firms who adopted this new technology are seeing a better quality of life, a better work life balance. And then 68% of law firms are seeing that adopting technology is allowing them to deliver a better client experience. So while we adopted these things to get through a crisis, I really do think that this stuff is going to be here to stay because it’s improving quality of life. It’s helping you serve clients better. So why get rid of it when things go back to normal?
– Right. And what’s interesting is because if you would’ve asked, and we’ve talked to many of those law firms on this show as well, where if you’d ask like, well, why did you start implementing, like, legal technology and what have some of the benefits you’ve seen? And everybody seems to go in with a, I just wanted my life to be better in my firm. It was just efficiency and productivity and stuff, but then when they come out of it kind of go, oh, my life at home is better now, my clients say that, like they get information better, they’re happier. And so all these benefits that happen when, initially it was a, I need to do this now from an efficiency perspective, I ran out of resources and I just need to get it all in one place. Or I missbilled somebody like eight times. So I need to get the technology in. And then with COVID it was, I need something that’s cloud-based because my team is now instantly everywhere, right? So I think it’s, if you look at the benefit you’re saying people are getting right now, just wait three or four more months, and I think they’ll see even more. Because we’ve talked to people who’ve been using Clio and some of the other tools, but for like, one, two, three years, and the benefits they say that they get is not what they actually initially went in to use the benefit. So how should lawyers be thinking about dealing with this COVID situation from the data that you have, plus, I think, coming at it from your wellness and kind of productivity angle, I think is always very interesting to me, and I wanna make sure we talk about that a little bit, but how should a law firm or a lawyer be thinking about, kind of where we were, where we’re at now, and where we’re going? Like, what should they be thinking in dealing with COVID?
– Yeah. I think it varies for everyone, right? If you’re healthy and you stayed healthy throughout all of this, and you have good systems and processes in place for your business, you’ve likely experienced your own challenges because of the state of the world. But I think for many people and many law firms, the situation has been able to help them highlight the things that they already do so well. And I think I’ve just been calling this, like, a beautiful crisis because we’ve seen people all across different areas of society come together and adapt in so many different ways. firms have shifted their services fully online and holding meetings through video conferencing, managing all their administrative workflows electronically. And now that things are ramping up, taking on client intake virtually and paperlessly using systems that have been in existence for a while to really ramp up that client experience. Jack released a book earlier this year called “The Client-Centered Law Firm”. And a lot of that is focused on delivering the kind of service that consumers expect in the day and age of Uber and Airbnb and Netflix. People want that seamless experience, and this pandemic has proven that legal, illegal and legal services can be delivered in that way. So in order to be competitive in the new normal, that’s kind of how law firms should be thinking about it. How can I deliver a great client experience using the tools that I’ve adopted? What workflows need to change? How can I frame my business so that I’m truly being of service to clients? And then from the people side of things, like you want to really be thinking about your staff and how they’re being reintroduced to the workplace. I don’t know that people are going to go back to a fully on-premise work environment. I think some flexibility in law firms is going to be here to stay. Like, for example, with Clio, we went from offices, five offices around the world, and most of the staff reporting to those offices every day, to everyone being remote like this. And now we’re a company where we now have five hub offices and we’re distributed by design. We’re working for a remote-first company now. And maybe some law firms might start taking that approach where the office is a place for meetings and for gatherings and meetings with clients that still want to meet in-person. But there may be clients that don’t want that experience anymore now that they know that there’s another option available. And I really do think that this time has allowed all of us to just slow down and reevaluate our businesses and our lives in some cases, and using our designer’s eye to come up with a more ideal way of living and doing business that’s sustainable, regardless of whether surges in cases happen again, or another crisis hits, or natural disaster happens, we want to be able to control the things that we can and minimize disruption where possible. And this has allowed us to think outside of the box and come up with solutions that are sustainable, regardless of what comes our way.
– Yeah. And we had Mark Palmer on not too long ago, and he was talking about, it’s not just for law firms, but also, like, the States and the state systems, and whether it be courts and bar associations, right? Like, they they’ve had to kind of adapt, which, could be some really cool longterm repercussions of, like getting rid of like, what signatures for certain type of documents, allowing people to notarize over a Zoom. Like, it actually allowed law firms to provide services at maybe a larger geography than they were initially even doing. Like, he was talking about rural lawyers were just disappearing, and you had all these people that didn’t even have access to a lawyer. But now, because the state had allowed them to do more things, people in, like, maybe suburbs or something could now help somebody who was far away. So you’re getting these benefits that, from the law firm, from the lifestyle, but also, now, access to justice because the states are opening some things. You’re right. I mean, what a beautiful way to look at it and to say that we’ve actually got some improvement out of this. Now, it was a crisis, I mean, let’s be honest. So there was some people dealing with really tough cash crunches and stuff, but there are some firms out there that, and we’ve talked to them, who I think got so paralyzed early on and just, like, it was like the, I don’t know what to do next. And then, all of us came out and said, here’s a thousand different things you can do tomorrow. And they got kind of frozen, right? So for those that are still trying to figure all this out, so those firms are kind of saying, like, maybe I don’t have the practice manager software, or maybe I’m just getting started and, like, what do I do? What should somebody’s main priorities be right now? If you’re just kinda like saying, okay, now I need, I’m going to figure this out, I realize that this is a longterm issue, it’s not going to be done in a couple of months, I’m going to go back to the office and use my paper files. So what should be some of the main priorities if you were kind of sitting on the sidelines for the last few months?
– Yeah. I think communication is at the core of all of this. How are you going to communicate with staff, with people that you’re outsourcing to, with potential new clients, and with existing clients? And having those systems in place is super important. So whether that is using a communication tool like Slack or Zoom to be able to do video conferencing, communication’s more important than ever when we’re working from different locations. And once you’re able to communicate and you know which channels you’re using, depending on the situation, make sure you’re reaching out to people and let them know that you’re still there. That was something that we talked about so much in the webinars that we were doing. So many offices were just like, well, we’re non-essential, we’re working. Or people were like, okay, well, I guess this lawyer is not working. I’m going to find one that is. So making sure that your messaging lets people know you’re open for business and you’re ready to take on new clients. And with the data that we’re seeing is, legal consumers are now in a place where they’re comfortable starting to hire a lawyer, and you’re seeing monthly billings go up as a result. But how are you handling that new volume? Making sure that you have the systems in place to handle that new volume in a way that does not completely paralyze you and bury you in administrative work on the front end. So systems like Clio Grow are a really great way to be able to funnel in all of the different ways that you’re marketing and getting clients, whether that’s through your website or through campaigns, being able to track those things and see where people are coming from, see how it’s working, be able to get them their intake forms electronically, being able to see where they are in the process. Have they scheduled a consult yet? Have they gotten you that intake form back yet? Have they paid their consult fee? Clio Grow has built-in payments for consults. So clients are able to from their mobile device or from any device, schedule an appointment with you to get that consult done and pay for that, if that’s something that you’re doing right now. So making things as seamless as possible, cutting down on steps where you can, and thinking about your existing client base. Where are they in terms of financial stability? We’re still seeing a lot of the economic fallout and don’t know where we’re going to be at the end of 2020. But leading from a place of empathy, but also understanding and being real that people may not be in a place to pay off existing bills, or if you’re getting a new client that has a legal issue, they may not be able to pay your normal retainer upfront. So thinking about things like payment plans, it’s gonna put you in a position where you’re thinking about your cash flow. You’ll still have money coming in as opposed to a huge bill in four months that somebody hasn’t touched because they’re completely overwhelmed by that sticker shock. So, I mean, and also back to that communication thing, timeline, think about the timeline for your cases. The normal timeline for you to be able to bring a case to a close is not going to be what it once was. Courts are still backlogged. And so communicating that to existing clients and potential new clients upfront is going to be so key to that person’s overall experience. I think everyone’s going to be a little bit more empathetic. You’re not going to get screamed at the way that you normally would if there was a delay. But being very transparent about those delays and what they could look like is really important in keeping people happy.
– So to kind of sum that up, it’s like, the book, right? “The Client-Centered Focus”. I mean, you want to be thinking about the client, building your systems from that perspective. And everything you mentioned, you said the focus is around that communication with, what’s the best thing for the client? What do they want? Love that. But we’re out a time on our Facebook and I’ve got more questions for you, though. Do you mind sticking around? We can post it to our YouTube channel on Friday. And yeah, I want to dive into more about, what people can do about cashflow. I’ve heard you talk even more about that in some of our webinars. So I think there’s some great stuff about, that lawyers can learn to, how to really get their cashflow moving and situated right now versus-
– Yeah, I’d love that.
– Awesome. So stick around with us a few minutes longer. I do wanna kind of dive into that. But before I wrap up, where can people contact you online?
– So I’m on Twitter. You can reach me @nefra_ann or you can email me at [email protected] And you can head over to Clio.com to see a ton of our resources, upcoming webinars, meetups, and a lot of the data that I mentioned here tonight.
– Yeah. We’ll make sure we put the “Legal Trends” page. I think it’s like slash LTR or something like that.
– We’ll put that in the notes as well so everybody can grab that. ‘Cause there’s such good data there. But just stick with me for one moment and we’ll be right back and continue this.
– Thanks for joining us today, everyone. Be sure to like and subscribe to our Facebook page so you get notified when our next episode goes live. We have new interviews about law firm marketing and the business side of running your firm here every other Wednesday. We’re going to keep going here in the GNGF studios, and you can watch the full extended interview with Nefra MacDonald this Friday, over on our YouTube channel. We’ll be diving into more detail about what law firms can do to improve their cashflow right now, among other important practice management topics. We’ll see you then. Nefra, thanks for sticking with me. I have so many more questions. We’ll put this up on our YouTube channel on Friday, but I appreciate you taking more time.
– Yeah. I’m happy to stick around and keep chat, I always love our chats.
– Yeah, we do. I said, oh, we need to have our questions ready for this and everything, but sure enough, I knew, like, I think two questions in, we just kinda got into our normal, like, what should we think about? What are you thinking about? Yeah, so this is great. Which is, I think, just that much more authentic, too, which I really appreciate. You talked about systems and stuff like that, which I want to come back to, but I want to talk about, working remote a little bit. ‘Cause we touched on that. And I think you even had, there was some data I saw and come out of Clio, too, where they did some surveys early on about people who were starting to work remote and kind of saying, yeah, I kinda like this. I don’t know if I want to come back into my law firm office full-time, or do I need to? And so how should firms be thinking about managing remotely, now that we’re kind of like post the quarantine, but into this is maybe not ending soon, but also, I now have a new way of working. And I kinda like being able to take the kids to school and come back home, or whatever, the paralegal was, like, working from home or however that worked. What advice are you giving to firms to think about managing remote? Like you said, Clio kind of went remote-first. Firms, obviously there’s, like, going to court and things like that, that kind of puts some challenges in there. But what have you seen and what are you recommending right now?
– I think the firms that have been the most successful with this have thought about the availability of their staff. So they’re implementing new technology, new services, new processes, to be able to still meet client’s needs. So the phones are getting answered and people are being routed appropriately depending on the urgency of what’s happening, but also understanding that people are not just their to-do list. It’s not about how many boxes someone checks in a day, but it’s about the progress, meaningful progress that’s being made toward the end goal, which is delivering legal services, whatever that looks like, whether it’s a contract, whether it’s a filing, whether it’s guiding someone through a process and generating a document at the end, like estate planning. It’s about the quality of work that someone does, not necessarily the nine-to-five block that has become the expectation for somebody to do that in. So many people are working from home with kids, and with animals, and with maybe three other roommates, or whatever the situation is, and maybe don’t have a dedicated space to work and all of that. So there are going to be some people who want, as restrictions, ease and things are a little bit safer, to go back to the office, but may not want to do that all the time. So thinking about being as flexible as possible and setting expectations around the kind of work that you want people to do, the kind of responsiveness you want them to have, the level of professionalism that’s a part of your firm, and all of that needs to be anchored in a firm culture and a very human approach. I know you’ve had Patrick Palace on here before, and I really think he’s nailed it. He’s really nailed it when it comes to anchoring his firm in culture and having that open communication, a law firm where you’re considering the whole person, not just the client, but also his team. Like, he really thinks about them as real, whole people. Like, he wants them to be whole. So when somebody is not doing well, whether that’s emotionally from the stress of all of this or is actually sick, you want to be able to have that flexibility and really think about, okay, if someone does get sick, what happens to their workload so that they can take the time to properly rest and recover? If someone’s not doing well emotionally, how can we give them the space that they need to take care of themselves while still serving needs and moving the business forward? penalizing people for that.
– Right. And as soon as you bring up Patrick, ’cause one of things I was gonna mention was, like, this kind of flexibility. And whether you use the word remote-first or whatever, but it’s really this kind of flexibility of being able to provide, like, an environment where yeah, if you want to come to the office, here’s a safe way that we’re working. If you want to work remote on these days for this reason, we’ve got all the tools, and technologies, and infrastructure and culture in place to do that. I’ve heard many, many law firms over the years talk about how hard it is to find good people. It’s just hard to find good people, and good talent, and stuff. And I have to believe, and I think Patrick is a great example of this, that it’s easier to find talent when you have a lot of this figured out. When you’re leaning from culture, you’re building the flexibility in for the team to kind of like work the way that they need to work to provide the best product for the client. Like, that is going to lead to, I think, like being able to find employees and teammates easily. I know Patrick, I mean, he jokes about how he’s in, like, blue collar Tacoma or whatever. But he has people from Seattle that apply and want to come work there and take that horrible commute from Seattle down to Tacoma for years. But now it’s like, oh, well, you don’t have to commute all the time because we can be flexible, and you can work from here, and it’s nice that we have somebody in Seattle if you need to meet with somebody. And so that’s helped his firm. But I have to imagine that that having that would help everybody who kind of like, is always worried about hiring good talent.
– Absolutely. Yeah. And like you said, the technology allows you to offer that flexibility. When you have a centralized place to document the goings on of a case, you don’t have to worry about what people are doing or think about the last thing that was done. If you’re working at a firm of five people and all of these five people have contact with the same client, and you’re not in the same office to say, hey, I just talked to so-and-so. How do you know what that person said? When you have a process in place and a centralized place to document the last thing that was done on a matter. So a timeline within each matter, you can see when somebody’s added billable time, when they saved a document, when they logged an email. And it’s in a chronological order, you can see if somebody deleted something, if they added a calendar event, anything. So you know when work is happening and who’s doing it without having to hound somebody until you touch this matter, it’s being done for you. And it’s great to be able to have things all in one place so that work can happen asynchronously. You don’t have to be working the same hours to be making progress on something.
– Right. I think that is huge. More and more, the ability to kind of work where I do some work and I don’t have to like, know that you’re going to be there for me to yell down out the window or out the door to kind of say, hey, like, what happened on this thing? It’s all there and documented. And Clio allows you to do that. The other thing, and this matches up to something from the last year’s “Legal Trends Report”, where consumers, they want to be able to talk to somebody right away. Like, if they have a legal problem in their head, and they’re going to go to Google and search for, half the people are going to go to Google and search, right? The other half are going to ask a friend and then maybe call a couple of lawyers, but they don’t want to wait for a lawyer to get back to them. Like, the data was like so bad about how people were not getting back. But they want the phone answered, they want to know the process, they want to know what the next step is. They want it to be, give me an email back that tells me what’s going to happen next, and how do I pay, and all that information. And maybe that was a big reason for the Lexicata purchase and moving into Clio Grow. But you have that system now, right? You’ve got this ability for Clio, like, refer a consumer to call and have that information go into a central place, so that that team, that five, six-person team, whatever, that’s remote, sees, oh, here’s a lead. That should be you that follows up with them. Can you call them back right away? You can have, like, answering services, I guess, that can work in those tools as well. So I’m very excited to see that. ‘Cause I mean, essentially it’s like CRM, is what I would kind of call that. Like, it’s the CRM system. In legal, we call it intake and everything, ’cause we don’t like to use the word sales. But it’s that CRM system, which businesses have been using for years, and it’s a very important piece. And the fact that, like, you guys now solved this problem that was with Clio Manage, that was, like, that productivity issue problem that law firms needed for them. But I think the Clio Grow, now, kind of like helps the law firm, but also, it kind of connects that consumer into the law firm in a faster way that’s going to, like, meet the needs of what the consumer is looking for in that step.
– Yeah. I remember, so my first job, like I said, I worked in a personal injury law firm. And we would get people calling in all the time to just tell somebody what happened to them and see if the lawyer could represent them. And our system was, like, taped onto everyone’s desk about, like, the questions that you ask. And then, there would be these paper intake forms that we would have to fill out before taking that and then going to the attorney’s office, seeing if he was available so he could quickly evaluate that case and then get on the phone with the client and see what happened. But that was all paper. And we didn’t really have a method or a way to visualize how many people were in that pipeline essentially. And a lot of firms are still doing things in a very manual way. Now that’s not necessarily an option when people aren’t working in the same four walls. So Clio Grow allows you to see these things visually. There’s an inbox feature where somebody fills out a contact form on your website. All of those leads go into that inbox, and you get that little red notification that’s pretty universal on apps at this point, to see how many people are in that inbox that you need to follow up with. And it’s as simple as clicking a button, being able to add them as a contact and shoot them over their first email with an intake form. And they’re already in your system. They go into a Kanban style methodology for measuring where they are in the life cycle, so that you can see, okay, that person has had initial contact, and then they now have an intake form. Now they’re in a phase where somebody needs to pick up the phone and call them, reach out, make sure they receive the email, make sure they get their questions answered, know what the next steps are. We schedule them for a consult with the attorney. They move into that next phase. If somebody’s stuck in a phase for too long, one of the lovely things about Clio Grow is that you’re able to assign a potential case value to each person that comes in. So one of the big motivators is you can see the number of dollars that are stuck in a certain phase. And that’s going to make you kind of pick up the phone and get people to that consult. Or if they miss their consult, followup to get them back in, or tell them, hey, listen, maybe it’s not going to work out, but I can refer you to someone, you put them in another category. But moving things along in a way that’s more organized, and paperless, and automated-
– Very visual.
– It’s visible. And it’s visible by the entire firm. So it doesn’t become one person’s responsibility to do all of the intakes. You’ve got a couple extra minutes and you see that there’s a phase that’s backed up, you can get in there and make sure that you’re doing follow ups or you’re getting letters out in a couple of clicks. If a lot of people have already said, yeah, I’m ready to hire you, but they haven’t gotten their engagement letter yet, that’s money that’s not coming into the firm. So it becomes everyone’s job to keep the burden cashflow positive and getting new people in the door.
– So, I want to come back to that point about cashflow. So the great thing again, the great thing about Clio Grow is, like, where it’s at now. And I can’t wait to see where it goes. I mean, there’s so many cool ideas that I could imagine I would want in a tool like that. And I know you guys constantly are adding features, so it’s going to be, and then how it syncs right into Clio Manage, too. But let’s go back to cashflow. And you’ve talked about this a lot. So what can firms really do, like, right now to improve their cashflow? I mean, a lot of people came, it was a big crunch during COVID, cases dropped down, they still had their fixed expenses, the PPP money kind of maybe is run out at this point. What are some things, right now, that I could do to improve my cashflow at a law firm?
– I think it’s looking at all of your past due invoices and thinking about those people’s ability to pay. And if it’s a really large amount, having a conversation with that person to see if there’s a payment plan that you can put them on to at least start getting a little bit of money in the door, getting that agreement in place so that they can get caught up, and then you can continue doing work. But it’s also about thinking about the longevity of the firm and the position that you’re in today. So if you’re in a position today where you’ve got a ton of money that you’re waiting on, but not a whole lot of new cases have come in in the last two months, it might be time to really start thinking about your messaging and how you get new people in the door. And then, thinking from that client-first perspective, if majority of your clients are in a place where you haven’t been able to collect on those bills, like that number is actually increasing. According to our data, it’s gone up a couple of percentage points every month. We’re at about 28% of receivables that lawyers don’t think they’ll ever be able to collect on at this point. So thinking about when you bring new clients in, assessing their ability to pay, and maybe having conversations upfront about how they plan on paying and what you can do to make that more palatable. Hey, do you need to receive your bill every two weeks? Or, would you like me to give you an estimate on what I think this is going to cost us and bill it on a monthly basis in equal amounts? Like, getting real about the money conversation, I think is a good thing because the client knows what to expect and you can have a little bit of predictability when it comes to going. Also evaluating . The services that you’re paying for to run your law firm are a little bit antiquated, you thousands of dollars every month, it might be worth thinking of a subscription service that just gets that money out a little bit more incrementally. Going from thousands of dollars a month to a couple of hundred dollars a month, that’s going to free up some money for you to be able to do other things like that new marketing plan you might want to execute on.
– All right. So, and just correct me if I’m wrong. So Clio Pay is actually powered by Law Pay, right? Is that right? So they actually provide, I know I’ll pay via Clio Pay, I guess you can then provide, like, payment plans and things like that. You could set that up in the system so that if somebody is, instead of writing off your like, oh, they just can’t afford that, you could say, well, what if we do that over six months to kind of like chip away at it and put it on a credit card, which maybe they can, like, pay more. ‘Cause the services that they’ve, you’ve provided services you’ve provided value, right? So we just need to kind of, like, finding ways to collect. I think that’s a huge opportunity for, I mean, even without COVID, that’s a huge opportunity for a lot of law firms. I’ve been on the phone with the law firm who had like, we were giving a marketing plan and they’re like, wow, we’d really love to do this. We just need to kinda, like, get our cashflow going. And he’s like, I’ve got $150,000 in AR or something like that. I’m like, well, why don’t you just start there? Like, hang up the phone with me, go call some people, collect not even a quarter of that, and then you can afford your marketing plan, right?
– Yeah. I mean, and we’re like, we’re looking at the US Postal Service right now, for example, with massive delays, like holiday-level volumes and workers getting sick and all of that. If you’re still mailing out bills and waiting for checks to come into the mail, you’re delaying your receivables by 30 days, at least at this point.
– Yeah. Right.
– So if you’re not accepting credit card payments or ACH, or giving your clients an alternative to pay that’s paperless and faster, that’s another way that you’re missing out on getting dollars in now.
– I agree. So I need to, I think leave it there. So we covered the cashflow, which I really want to make sure we talk about. So, like, identifying AR, identifying those opportunities that maybe you’re spending more on for something that you could get a subscription for or outsource for a little bit less. I hate to say sometimes it’s, like, a headcount and you could outsource a piece of it. Again, we were talking with some other law firms that said that during this, they went in with like a a scalpel and identified thousands and thousands of dollars a month like, percentage points of profitability, which they said that, now, that’s going to carry through, right? Like, after COVID, like, as things come back, that’s areas that I just was kinda like, it was leaking out my door and I didn’t even know it. So two huge areas to focus on cashflow. So thank you so much. Appreciate you joining me again today.
– Yeah. It was a lot of fun. I always, like I said, I always love our chats. It’s always good to see your face and I appreciate the opportunity to connect with your audience.
– Awesome. Well, thank you Nefra. And we’ll again, put all the details in the description on where they can find you, and find information about Clio, and of course, Clio Grow, Clio Manage. Everybody should be looking at those very closely in this environment, especially. So thanks a lot. And we’ll talk to you soon.
– Thank you.
– Hey, what’s up? I’m Josh. Thanks so much for joining us. If you feel like you learned something today, think of how beneficial it would be to chat with myself or another one of our marketing consultants one-on-one. Go ahead and visit our website to schedule your free consultation. It only takes a minute.