A Review of Clio Cloud Conference 2016

If you are reading this you are probably considering attending Clio Cloud Conference 2017 or you work for Clio. Either way, read on.

This is my attempt at reviewing Clio Cloud Conference 2016. Which is a difficult thing to do. There is one of me. There were numerous seminars. So my experience may be vastly different than what someone else experienced.

You should also understand my background. I’m very into legal tech. I spend a lot of time studying and refining my business and tech. A lot. Doing so allows me to better serve my clients. I am constantly trying new software. And implementing what I like. 

One of the first software investments I made when I went solo was to sign on with Clio. I did so in 2012. I have been with them consistently since then. I believe I was a “beta” subscriber. I believe that Clio is the best practice management software available to small firms and I recommend the product.

I don’t work for Clio. I paid my way to the conference. Clio gave me a shirt, a bag, and some great socks as take aways. None of which has impacted my review.

The Good:

Nobody puts on a better conference than Clio. From the second I walked in, I felt like I mattered. They thought of all sorts of ways to improve the attendee experience. The food was great. The Clio After Dark was fantastic. It was easy to find and talk to vendors. The Radisson Blu was swanky. The entire conference had a “cool” vibe. I don’t think Disney puts on a better production. The Clio staff was very helpful and friendly.

Some of the presenters were very good. I particularly enjoyed a presentation about hiring trends. I thought the session was both practical and insightful.

There was lots of tech, lots about Clio, and lots about business.

Yoga between sessions. Lots to like.

The Not So Good:

For as great of a production as the conference was – it was difficult to find the right room for a seminar. The online map provided in the conference app was useless as it did not label rooms the same way they were labeled on the agenda. This sounds strange. But I wasn’t the only one who had a tough time figuring out what room was what. I even walked into the wrong room and sat down in the wrong seminar. I felt bad leaving but I wasn’t the only one.

Bigger room signs would be nice. But the 2017 Conference is in New Orleans so that will be different.

Some of the presentations weren’t good. I’m not going to name names on this site because that would be rude. But some of them I gave poor reviews to. I felt like they were wastes of time. In the sense they were too general, too ambitious, too unfocused, and sometimes behind the curve.

The descriptions of seminars were sparse or non-existent. A few paragraphs on the conference website about the topics that were going to be discussed would have been nice. They could have then been put in the app. That would have solved some of my problems with me not feeling like some of the sessions were worth my time.

The Problem:

At any conference there are speakers that you’ll enjoy and one’s you won’t. And what is not insightful to me may feel revolutionary to someone else. And vice versa. I’m sure an HR person would have found the hiring seminar too basic.

I think the basic problem with Clio Conference is existential. What is it? Is it a cutting edge legal tech conference? Who is the audience? Should only tech geeks attend?  Should every session be general or narrow? It is hard to do a business development session in an hour. Is the audience big law or small law? Is it a place to learn Clio?

There was a seminar that I was particularly excited about. Without knowing it, I found myself sitting down with one of the presenters. My eyes lit up when I found that this person was presenting one of the 2 or 3 sessions that most interested me. I decided to use the opportunity to pick his brain. As we discussed the subject matter he said “I think you may be too advanced for this session….many people here don’t even know about this topic so I have to keep it basic”.

Said another way, there’s no reason to sell lawyers who are using facebook on the benefits of using facebook.

But that same session may have been worth the price of admission to someone else.

Verdict:

I changed my flight to leave the conference early on Tuesday. About noon. I was scheduled for a red eye but hopped on an afternoon flight back east. I felt my time was better spent getting home so I could see my kids before they went to bed and be ready to tackle Wednesday. The conference wasn’t for me.

Others stayed and loved it.

I hear Gary Vee was awesome.

I think the conference was very well done, very cool, just not for me.

What I’d like to see Clio do for 2017 is:

  1. Put the agenda and speakers out as soon as they come onboard. I think when I booked my ticket, I did so blindly. I went based on reputation and the strength of the 2015 speakers.
  2. Do seminar summaries. Keep them short. Even a few paragraphs. Even a blurb about “target audience”.
  3. Distribute slides from seminars online in the app.
  4. Think about the big picture. Who should go? What should they get from this? What is Clio Cloud Conference? And perhaps limit your focus areas. It’s really hard to do a broad “how to grow your business” talk in 30 minutes. What would have been preferable is a day of 30 minute speakers each exploring an idea or 2 that has worked for them. Then I could get actionable take aways.
  5. Bigger room signs.
  6. More vendors. One of the coolest things about the show was talking to vendors. I found the vendors to be very useful. At least the ones that were useful to my practice or that I wasn’t already using.
  7. Keep the keepers. You have a great vibe, great staff, great after hours party – there’s lots to like here.

I’m going to keep my eyes on the agenda for 2017. I hope to see blurbs about the seminars.

You are going to read a lot online about how much fun this conference is. Believe it. It’s a lot of fun. And if you want fun – sign up now for 2017. Get your early discount. You won’t regret it.

But my expectations were a little higher than “fun”. Ultimately, I place a very high premium on time away from my clients, business, and family. If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped the conference and spent a few days in Chicago with my wife. Again, your mileage may vary.

And if you are an associate at a large firm, and they’ll pay for it, by all means go.

I do think many of the problems that I encountered – including the decision to attend – could have been solved with more information about the substance and target audience of each session.

Who knows, maybe I’ll try and become the solution and pitch a session to Clio Conference 2017. I mean the conference was cool. I’m sure there are sessions that I’ll like. And I’m positive Clio will put on a great show. And New Orleans. I mean New Orleans.

And if you are reading this far, I’d like to thank the Clio staff. You couldn’t have been better hosts. I hope this post doesn’t come off as ripping anything about the Clio team or the conference. That’s not the intent. I guess I liked it enough to care about writing it and I want to see it improve and grow.

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Pro Tip On Bringing Your Cell Phone To Court

Can I take my cell phone to court?

The answer is yes. Yes with a slight caveat. You can’t use your phone while court is in session. Nor can your phone make any noise.

You don’t want to have a marshal take your phone. Or fine you. Or disrupt court proceedings. You really don’t. I know from experience.

These magic devices that make our lives easier are hard to mute. Even when we hit mute – notifications have a way of popping up and making noise.

Here’s a pro tip on bringing your cell phone to court.

Tip: Use airplane mode.

Using Amazon Dash Buttons In Your Law Firm

If you are running a small law firm there are all sorts of things – taxes, insurance audits, payroll, vendors and the list goes on. The work never stops in a day. You just stop working that day. Using Amazon Dash Buttons in your law firm makes life 250% more awesome. Guaranteed.

You need to spend your time focusing on the important things like clients. But there is mundane creep that tries to sabotage your best intentions. By mundane creep I mean running out of supplies. You go to print the fee agreement only to find out you are out of toner. A trip to staples ensues.

Fortunately it is easier than ever to buy anything. But there’s a better way. That better was is Amazon Dash buttons.

Dash buttons are little wifi enable buttons that are easily placed where you keep your supplies. You buy the button, easily connect it to the internet with your phone, and select the item you want ordered when someone presses the button. And bam! Two days later that item appears.

There are dash buttons for all sorts of products. In my office I use them for paper, toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, dishwashing detergent, and trash bags.

My assistant sees the paper is running low. She hits the button. The paper that I want comes directly to the office. Neither my time or hers is wasted buying or ordering supplies.

With dash buttons you don’t have to worry about multiple people hitting the button and winding up with 20 boxes of paper. The button won’t process another order until after an order arrives.

This is especially useful for me. In addition to running a law firm, I also lease office space through a separate business to colleagues. I handle common supplies. With dash buttons there are no more emergency runs for supplies. It is less for me to do.

Dash buttons are a cheap and simple hack to make your office more efficient and productive.

If only there was a Starbucks dash button. Make it happen, Amazon.

Here’s my hokey video featuring paper and a dash button.

MileIQ An Essential App For Your Law Practice

It’s the small things that make all of the difference.

When I started my own firm, one of the things I was very bad at was keeping track of my mileage. Come tax time, my accountant would ask for my mileage log. I would then look back at my calendar, open google maps, and calculate mileage based on what was in my calendar. Things like trips to get supplies or to the bank never made my spreadsheet.

As of March 30, 2016, the current IRS mileage rate is $.54. That adds up quickly.

Last year, I installed MileIQ on my phone. It was a decision that saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars in mileage expenses and hours of my time. You can save yourself 20% on the premium version of MileIQ by clicking here. Full disclosure I save some money on my account if you buy.  I would recommend this product even if there was no benefit to me.  You can try MileIQ for free.

 

The Stress of Practicing Law As Documented By Fitbit

Law is a stressful profession. Lawyers take on the most severe problems of their clients.

The two photos in this post show the strain of practice. They are screen shots from my fitbit. The first picture shows my heart rate at 142 beats per minute when I began my oral argument before the appellate court. I was standing still. A heart rate of 142 beats per minute is one that I acheive while running.

 

My heart rate at the beginning of oral argument.

 

The second picture charts my sleep at night. The fitbit shows that I awoke at 2:18 am. That is wrong. I was up at 1:48 am (the second to last blue line) but was just lying in bed. At 2:18 I decided that going back to sleep was not happening. I couldn’t sleep because I was replaying the argument in my head. Thinking of all of the questions. All of my answers. All I said. And answers that I wish I had thought of standing before the court.

 

 

 

Up early trying to process the argument.

This summer, I ditched my Moto 360 in favor of a fitbit because I needed to prioritize my health over incoming messages. It is a happy change for me. But these two pictures remind me of the physical stress the legal profession puts on me.

Google Chrome Now Working With CT Judicial Branch Website

chromeFor the past two and a half years, I’ve had great difficulty using Google Chrome on the Connecticut Judicial Branch website.

Last week, Chrome for Mac received a major update. It went from 32 bit to 64 bit. This evening I used Chrome on the Judicial Branch website to both view and efile pleadings. Everything worked as it should.

If you’re a Chrome user, make sure you update to the most recent version of the browser and try your hand using the the Connecticut Judicial Branch website. Things should now work smoothly for you (or at least as smoothly as the work on other browsers).

No longer will you have to suffer through the minor inconvenience of having to switch to FireFox to move business on the CT Judicial Branch website.

What Do You Need For A Paperless Law Office?

It’s easy to overlook the small things. I spent two years designing and improving on my paper-less firm. Yet…..just last week, I purchased a low tech piece of equipment that makes a big difference. A power cord.

Taking notes on my laptop is great. However, until battery life significantly improves or wireless charging hits the market – power will always be an issue. While you are busy deciding on hardware and software it is easy to forget about power on the road.

Watch the video below for a $4.99 low-tech must buy tool for your paper-less law office. I carry one of these with me when I know laptop battery may be an issue. Great for your practice, cheap, and it may help you make friends at a conference, coffee shop, in an airport, or at court.

Can Lawyers Advertise With Yodle?

This lawyer won’t.

Yodle is an online advertiser. They “provide local businesses with a simple and affordable way to promote their services and generate new leads using internet marketing.”

I find buying keywords from Google to be complicated. Am I buying the right ones? How many should I buy?  How much should I spend? I went to law school not marketing school. I have no idea what’s a good approach with Google. Yodle attempts to solve this problem buy doing it for you.

For example, if I were interested in marketing a real estate practice, I tell Yodle this, we set a budget, they create a website for me and buy keywords. In theory, it is a great service for a small business – I have no idea whether or not it works but the concept is good.

The problem for lawyers is in the details. Yodle sets up a phone number for you and then records your calls. Yodle monitors the calls.

Here are Yodle’s terms of service:

6. Call Recording and Monitoring
For quality assurance, Yodle records and/or monitors calls between Customer (including the Locations) and Yodle agents, employees and/or its affiliates regarding the Services (the “Service Calls”). If the Services include call recording or monitoring, Yodle will record and/or monitor incoming calls and e-mails between the Location, or the Location’s agents, employees, and/or its affiliates and people who contact the Location through the tracking telephone numbers or contact forms Yodle provides (the “Inbound Calls” and, collectively with Service Calls, “Call Recording and Monitoring”). By this Agreement, Customer, on behalf of itself and each Location, consents to any and all Call Recording and Monitoring performed by Yodle or its agents, employees and/or its affiliates.

In speaking with Yodle, they advised me that the call monitoring service could be dropped. However, when I pressed the sales representative to remove the above clause from the contract they refused to do so. I then refused to hire Yodle.

Why?

Rule 1.6 of the ABA Code of Professional Conduct requires lawyers to protect the confidentiality of client information. The relevant comment reads as follows:

Paragraph (c) requires a lawyer to act competently to safeguard information relating to the representation of a client against unauthorized access by third parties and against inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure by the lawyer or other persons who are participating in the representation of the client or who are subject to the lawyer’s supervision. See Rules 1.1, 5.1 and 5.3.  The unauthorized access to, or the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, information relating to the representation of a client does not constitute a violation of paragraph (c) if the lawyer has made reasonable efforts to prevent the access or disclosure.  Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s efforts include, but are not limited to, the sensitivity of the information, the likelihood of disclosure if additional safeguards are not employed, the cost of employing additional safeguards, the difficulty of implementing the safeguards, and the extent to which the safeguards adversely affect the lawyer’s ability to represent clients (e.g., by making a device or important piece of software excessively difficult to use). A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures not required by this Rule or may give informed consent to forgo security measures that would otherwise be required by this Rule.  Whether a lawyer may be required to take additional steps to safeguard a client’s information in order to comply with other law, such as state and federal laws that govern data privacy or that impose notification requirements upon the loss of, or unauthorized access to, electronic information, is beyond the scope of these Rules.  For a lawyer’s duties when sharing information with nonlawyers outside the lawyer’s own firm, see Rule 5.3, Comments [3]-[4].

Yodle’s promise to “turn off call monitoring” while insisting on maintaining it in their terms and conditions presents an interesting problem for any lawyer seeking their services.

Any lawyer can tell you clients leave all sorts of highly personal information on voicemails. Especially, calls for initial consultations. Lawyers never know what they are going to find when they check their morning voicemails.

Any lawyer looking to advertise with Yodle should at the very least contact their malpractice carrier. My carrier provides free advice on such matters. Lawyers should also consider seeking an advisory opinion with State ethics counsel.

In the meantime, this lawyer will not be advertising with Yodle.

How To Print A Single Check From Quickbooks

Opening an office requires overcoming challenges. One of the challenges that I faced was printing a single check from QuickBooks. I buy checks, three to a page. Printing that “third” and single check was a problem.

The video below provides you with a no cost (other than a piece of paper that can be reused) solution.

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Ryan McKeen is an Attorney at McKeen Law Firm, LLC in Glastonbury, CT.