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Why I travelled 3,800 Miles to Learn more about LawTech

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As a sole practitioner at Roche Legal and all round new-kid-on-the-block, I need to keep ahead of the game when it comes to advances in technology, so that I can continually improve the efficiencies in our small business, and the way in which we communicate with our clients. As part of our tech strategy, we operate a paperless filing system at Roche Legal, which is aided by the law firm practice management software provider Clio.

The opening dance! Maybe we need these at UK legal conferences to wake everyone up?

For the last four years, Clio has hosted an annual ‘Clio Cloud Conference’ and this year, I packed myself off for a few days to Chicago to take part in the fun. Although a Canadian company, Clio seem to do most of their business in the States. From humble beginnings, this conference has now grown to be widely recognised, attracting world renowned speakers and, this year, more than 700 attendees.

As well as an obvious plug for Clio’s own offering, there were plenty of events, speakers and exhibitors to keep it an interesting and vibrant two days. Discussions ranged from wellbeing (there was yoga and a park run, of course) to reasons to be excited about the future of technology, artificial intelligence and the law, the business of law, and even how to run your law firm from India with a 4 month old. If anything, the two days of law talk certainly helped me feel energised about the future of ‘Small Law’ and I’ve taken plenty away to implement back home.

Plenty of action up front…

On day one, the Key Note talk from Jack Newton CEO and co-founder of Clio, also provided a taster of his soon to be released Legal Trends Report which will be available in full from 17 October 2016. Although mainly applicable to the US, the Report collated from Clio’s own user data, provides interesting statistics on things like hourly rates across States, hours billed per day, collection rates and so on. There has already been much discussion about the content of the report and Jack’s key note speech online. You only need to have a look on Twitter to see what people are saying. It’s created quite a buzz and the Report isn’t even available in full yet.

As a software provider, one of the things that stands Clio out from the crowd is that they seem to be improving their software using feedback from users all the time. Plus, their support staff have always been very good. During the two days, I visited the ‘Smart Bar’ where I could discuss directly with experts from the Clio team, aspects of the system I felt could be improved, as well as ‘getting technical’ with the developers in the ‘Clio Lab’. I am looking forward to seeing what they will roll out next, especially with the new Clio App, which is a huge improvement on what was already a pretty swanky piece of tech.

Although an obvious way to raise the profile of Clio in the wider law world, conferences like this still give ‘Small Law’ a huge opportunity to grow and thrive and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of it. The main thing I’ve taken away from my two days in the US is that there are still an enormous amount of opportunities for Small Firms to leverage technology and carve out a truly unique place in the legal landscape. For years, the focus has been on larger firms, mergers, creating large brands and pushing out the small fish. I honestly don’t believe that this is now the case and I’m excited about how small but nimble firms are going to give the large fish a run for their money.

Could bringing more entertainment to legal events widen your horizons?

I also feel that the operational and HR side of working in a law firm is changing and many of us need to overhaul our practices. There is plenty that a small law firm can take away from the practices of tech companies like Clio with their cohesive set of values and the way in which their staff are able to encapsulate the brand in a way in which law firms have always struggled. We need to be more open, accessible, fun even. What we do will always be serious business (and rightly so), but I don’t believe the way to grow a firm these days is with a brass plaque on the door, an out of date case management system and a pin stripe suit. Get online, get talking and engaging with the public and give law firms a much needed personality!

[Photo is of Cloud Gate (nicknamed The Bean), a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in Chicago.]

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Rachel Roche

Rachel is a Solicitor and the Managing Director at Roche Legal, a boutique private client practice based in the historic City of York. T: 01904 866 139 E: W:

5 thoughts on “Why I travelled 3,800 Miles to Learn more about LawTech

  • October 2, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Rachel the conference sounded really worth the long trip – I wonder if many other managers of UK law firms made the journey? Incredible stats as well from that Legal Trends Clio report – only 28% of working hours in a day are recorded as billable ones on average, and even less for solo lawyers? I’d love to see a similar report for the UK. Also I bet that remote working lawyer in India with the 4 year-old way exceeds these averages.

    • RachelRoche
      October 2, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      I didn’t meet anyone else from the UK there, but I’d be interested to hear from anyone UK based who did make the trip. We might go again next year (next year it’s being held in New Orleans) and I would also like to attend the AI and the Law annual conference in London in June 2017.

  • October 3, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Re comment that ‘As a software provider, one of the things that stands Clio out from the crowd is that they seem to be improving their software using feedback from users all the time.’

    All of us in IT who take market leadership seriously do this. We are continuously adding new functionality and additional free content to our system and just last week we started researching an integration with another system which should massively increase our clients’ engagement with their clients.

    We have also in the last month or so:
    1. offered a software solution free to the SPG so sole practitioners can cross-refer work easily
    2. Issued another e-newsletter full of good tech etc things for firms to look at
    3. Set up a free service of law firms to give them (tailored) learned case etc. comment for their intranets.

    We reinvest 20% of our turnover in produce development, which is why we keep mktg spend down to less than 5% (now THAT IS unusual!)

    If you do not continuously improve tech and add ever greater value to your market, you are dead. That is normal in business.

    All part of the ob really.

  • October 7, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Joe, that’s interesting about the software solution offered to the SPG. At Yorkshire Sole Practitioners group, we have not heard about it. Now will investigate this for our group.
    Rachel, I can sense the ‘buzz’ you got from attending the conference and I love Chicago! Had a look at the website and the product looks really interesting. best ann

  • October 10, 2016 at 11:29 am

    PS Sorry for typos.

    We also, of course, do a lot of reading up/research on good software tools and we tell readers of our monthly newsletter (free) about the best we see (100% non-commercial, btw… we do not allow advertorial or paid-for content etc)…an example is which we’ve been talking about for years and is just starting to gain currency in the market. Other recent examples are (brilliant events management) and (really nice videoconferencing) and bombbomb (video email software)…all really nice bits of kit.

    You don’t have to go to Chicago to know what the up and coming stuff is!!!!!


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