A few years ago, I asked NC Bar Association staffer Joyce Brafford, “If I can attend only one conference this year, what should it be?” Joyce did not hesitate, the Clio Cloud Conference. I am so glad I took her advice.
Clio is a cloud based legal technology company and Clio hosted their first conference in 2013 with 200 attendees. I attended my first Clio Conference in Chicago in 2015, then again in 2016. This year the conference moved to New Orleans in September and I attended for the third year in a row along with 1,200 others. What keeps me going back?
There are several standout features of the conference. The conference is highly produced and includes excellent facilities and great networking. The conference extras include hangover tables and massage chairs, plenty of food and beverage, and fun add-ons such as “Clio After Dark” after-conference socials.
As everyone attending the conference is a forward thinking legal professional , many conversations start at a different level – “what can we do better, more effectively and more efficiently?”, along with, “what does the future hold and what is my role in that future?”. These are individuals who have embraced technology and are using it in every part of their practice.
One of my favorite aspects of the conference is getting to know the Clio staff. CEO Jack Newton and Lawyer in Residence, Joshua Lennon are wandering the halls and looking to join in conversations or share a table at the social events. The staff is warm and welcoming and they embrace the mission of the company.
The speakers are forward thinking. There are multiple tracks offered: Clio University (Clio users), business of law and legal technology.
The keynote speakers are always fantastic and this year was no exception. Canadian astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield, was perfectly on theme with Clio’s yearlong update to their software, which they christened Apollo. Commander Hadfield had a beautiful slide show of photos from his time on the International Space Station. He shared his experience of astronaut training including preparing for emergencies so that when something goes wrong, they are ready to troubleshoot and repair.
Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind Harvard Law graduate, and also on the cover of the ABA Journal in September, spoke about challenges she faced in life that prepared her for her work as a disability rights advocate who works to promote accessibility and inclusion.
Preet Bharara is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. His inspirational remarks encouraged lawyers to strive to be their best. Bharara is now the host of the “Stay Tuned with Preet” podcast that tops my “must listen to” list.
Over 30 speakers addressed topics such as client experience, artificial intelligence, disruption, collaboration, generational communication, social engagement, and how these topics are influencing the future of law.
21st Century Skills
Many of the speakers spoke about the skills needed to be a 21st century legal professional including: cultural competency, leadership, project management, business acumen, high risk tolerance, technology, social networking, collaboration, communication and presentation, forming teams and problem solving that includes innovation.
The show opened with a New Orleans Jazz Band and dancing Clio employees in their signature Clio Conference t-shirts and jeans, an early nod that this is not your standard legal conference. Jack Newton opened the conference reporting on changes in the Clio product, continued innovations the company is making, and finally rolling out the 2017 Legal Trends Report.
If you are looking at a report that analyzes what is happening in the world of solo and small firms, this report is a must-read. Clio introduced the report in 2016 and it was a highly anticipated feature of this conference.
The report is based on anonymously aggregated data from 60,000 Clio users. The most shocking news in the report is that in an 8-hour day, lawyers spend 2.3 hours of the day working for clients, they bill their clients for 1.9 hours of their day and they collect from clients for 1.6 hours of their day.
Many bloggers, lawyers, legal consultants and marketing professionals are talking about the 2.3-hour billable day and the missing 6 hours. There may be a variety of reasons for the low numbers including the number of younger lawyers who may be Clio users but do not have a solid book of business, as well as less overall work for lawyers regardless of age and stage.
Clio users acknowledged that in the remaining 6 hours they spend time marketing and developing new business, administrative work, licensing / CLE, office administration, generating / sending bills, configuring technology, and collections.
George Psiharis, Clio’s Vice President of Business Operations, presented a session where he drilled deeper into the report. The report also provides an index of billable hour rates across the country, includes responses from 2,000 consumers of legal services about what clients are looking for in a lawyer, and offers tips on how to set targets for success in your firm that allow you to measure your practice. At a conference where there is plenty of conversation around artificial intelligence, Psiharis offers hope for lawyers, “Data driven lawyers eat robots for breakfast.”
Who should attend the Clio Conference? I am not a Clio user and I still consider it the best conference I attend. If you are a solo or small firm lawyer, paralegal or other legal professional there will be conference sessions you will find of interest. If you are interested in building a 21st century law firm, this conference is for you.
Finally, if you want to participate in conversations that center around the changing and challenging legal marketplace, make plans to attend. The conference is scheduled for October 4-5, 2018 in New Orleans at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Early Bird Registration is now open. I’ll see you in New Orleans.
Camille Stell is the Vice President of Client Services for Lawyers Mutual. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at [email protected] or 800.662.8843.