CLIO REVIEW 2020 (Is it Really Secure?)
Welcome to our Clio review UPDATED for May 2020.
150,000 legal professionals in over 90 countries rely on Clio to manage cases, streamline daily activities, and enhance billing and client communication.
Clio makes running a law firm easier and far more lucrative, but is it worth the price? Is it safe to store your documents online? And do solo lawyers and small firms actually benefit from its high-priced features?
Our legal team scheduled a demo to see how the software really works. The results surprised us.
In this review, we’ll cover:
- Clio features – document/case management, timekeeping, billing, etc.
- Pricing – is it worth the money?
- Usability – can the average lawyer use it?
- Security – is it safe?
- Customer service
Let’s get started with a brief overview…
Clio Overview – What is it? And How Does it Work?
Clio is the world’s most popular legal software and the first comprehensive workflow law practice management software designed specifically for lawyers.
The suite of tools and services Clio offers makes running a law firm easier, more lucrative, and far more efficient.
You know all of the regulatory compliance, painstaking outreach, client management, and billing headaches you suffer daily?
Here’s why Clio is the clear market leader in cloud-based practice management software:
- Streamline daily activities: manage cases, organize contacts, and automate documents all from an easy to use interface.
- Keep track of your financials from one place: Clio helps lawyers get paid faster. Generate bills, run financial reports, and contact your clients through the client portal all from the click of a button.
- Grow your law practice: Create easy client intake forms, automate communication (e.g. emails), and organize referrals for maximum acquisition efficiency.
This law practice management software not only ensures you remain legally compliant by storing all of your documents in an easily accessible place, but it also streamlines billing, manages your tasks, facilitates online payments, and organizes your contacts.
Instead of storing documents on-premises, everything is done in the cloud. Imagine the benefits this could have for your firm:
- Enhanced security
- Data loss Prevention
- Access all of your documents on the go at any time
- Increased efficiency
- Around-the-clock support
That all sounds great in theory, but we both know that running a practice is never as easy as it sounds. So, we tested every feature in a real setting to see how this law practice management software works.
Here’s what we found:
Clio’s management solution pricing ranges from $39 – $99/mo PER USER and comes in 3 tiers:
- Starter – $39/mo annually or $49 monthly
- Boutique – $59/mo annually or $69 monthly
- Elite – $99/mo annually or $109 monthly
Mid to large-sized firms can opt for ENTERPRISE plans with custom pricing.
Should you use Clio? At first glance, Clio’s pricing is a bit intimidating. $39 – $99/mo PER USER adds up quickly.
But when you dig deeper, it’s actually VERY FAIR.
First, most competitors are far more expensive. And none rival Clio’s quality of software or service.
Second, it’s important to consider Clio’s VALUE and NOT THE PRICE. For example, the Boutique plan costs $59/mo per user, but consider the amount of the time it saves. How many hours would a firm member spend on outreach, managing documents, billing, or managing cases? It’s hard to say exactly, but it’s surely more than $59 worth of time. So, depending on the size of your law practice, it might be suitable for you to use Clio.
NOTE: Clio’s STARTER price is very affordable, but many valuable features are not available at this level. We highly recommend upgrading to the BOUTIQUE plan to get real value.
UK And EU Pricing
Clio offers a more simplified pricing structure for overseas clients.
EU: €65/mo per user annually or €72/mo monthly.
UK: £49/mo per user annually or £56/mo monthly.
European service packages cost more than their North American counterparts. We’re not exactly sure why, but it’s likely due to VAT and the more regulated European market.
OK, now that we’ve got Clio’s pricing out of the way, let’s move on to the features:
Clio Features Review
Overview: Clio’s case management service allows you to manage all of your firm’s case information at a glance from a single dashboard. And, you can easily link every contact, document, event, note, or bill to the appropriate case all in one platform. Overall, our team was impressed both with Clio’s ease of use AND its functionality. It really is like your firm’s central nervous system.
Think of Clio’s case management dashboard like your firm’s hub of communication.
This is where you’ll manage projects, coordinate across teams, track deadlines, send bills, and track any other daily tasks for your firm.
In Clio, cases are called MATTERS. Once you create a matter, it’s easy to add information and get a complete overview of all your firm’s cases. You can even set permissions, collaborate across teams, and see real-time case developments so you’re always on top of things.
Our 3 favorite features are:
- Clio Gmail Extension: Managing a law firm requires a mountain of emails every day. Clio’s Gmail extension helps you log emails, save documents, and create time entries right from a familiar interface.
- Clio Connect: Collaborate with clients, team members, and co-counsel through a secure web portal designed specifically for law firm communications.
- Task Lists: Law firms have endless tedious tasks. And we found that whenever we opened a new case, we repeated some of the same minutiae. Automating these tasks in Clio saves your firm hours of time and endless headaches.
Creating a Case
In Clio, new cases are called MATTERS.
Matters contain all of a case’s information and include a description, contact info, permissions, and “Originating Attorney” (the user that brought the client to the firm). Surprisingly, this was one of the easiest tasks for our team. And this was their first time ever using the software.
The entire process is intuitive and simple:
Start by selecting “Members” on the left and then clicking “New Matter” on the top right.
From there, some pieces of information you can include are:
- Client (You can add from Contacts)
- Description – A short overview of the case
- Responsible Attorney – Who is responsible for the case
- Originating Attorney – Who brought the case to your firm
- Reference Number (Optional)
- Location – Important location information such as the courthouse where the case will happen
- Statute of Limitations
You can also set permissions (who is able to work on this case). The two default permissions are “You” (the creator of the matter) or “Everyone.”
NOTE: We were able to easily create custom groups in Clio. If you are a medium or large firm, you will definitely need to create more detailed groups.
Managing a Case
Managing Matters in Clio is even easier than creating them.
Clio stores all of your case information in the cloud from a simple dash. Even if you’re a large firm with hundreds of active cases, this one dashboard lets you organize, edit, and update every case from one searchable interface.
All data involved in the case—including timekeeping and billing—is saved directly into the case file.
Based on our experience, Clio’s management dashboard will save you hours of time, especially with the newly updated interface!
Clio’s document management makes it simple to find, access, edit, and share all of your documents.
Think of it as Google Drive made specifically for lawyers. And, it even comes with a few benefits to help increase productivity at law firms, including:
- Unlimited document storage
- Advanced doc filters for easy location
- Clio’s industry-leading security
Cloud-based document management services (DMS) are far superior to traditional document archives. Clio’s DMS is superior to any other document management at this price point. And it also has a great Google Drive implementation.
Our team found that the service wasn’t “groundbreaking” by any means, but was definitely as good as billed, if not better.
Here’s what we liked best:
- Streamline custom forms in seconds: Clio’s form library makes it extremely easy to create new forms. They are even customizable for your jurisdiction.
- Save documents directly from the source: Instead of taking a file from your email, downloading it, and uploading it to a document, Clio integrates directly with your most-used software. That way, you can instantly save a doc directly from the source.
- Simple integrations: Speaking of integrations, Clio seamlessly integrates with Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive (plus more!).
Let’s go into a bit more detail:
Clio connects to some of the most important law firm tools:
And that’s just scratching the surface. It’s possible to extend Clio’s functionality far beyond basic doc management. For a full list, see Clio’s integrations page.
Document automation prevents you from wasting time creating, editing, and proofreading documents. And all while protecting your firm’s reputation (no errors!).
Managing hundreds or thousands of documents per day leaves you open to human error. At the very least, it wastes time.
Use Clio to create a document template with “merge fields.” These fields automatically pull information from a Matter (e.g. name, address, or custom field).
Now for the downside…
Creating a template IS NOT as easy as we’d hoped. There was a slight learning curve.
It’s not difficult by any means—only a bit tedious. It involves adding merge tags to a document template and making sure the spacing/format is professional.
That’s a small price to pay, though. Once your template is ready, you can use it perpetually for similar documents and Clio will automatically pull all of the information where instructed.
Extrapolate that out over thousands of documents, and you could save dozens of hours of manual labor per month, all while eliminating human error.
Timekeeping and Billing
Overview: Clio’s billing and timekeeping save time and increase profitability. This is the one feature where Clio stands head and shoulders above all competitors.
“Don’t let a minute slip through the cracks.”
That’s how Clio describes their time tracking and billing service. We 100% agree.
This is the best timekeeping software in the legal industry.
We tested a few different aspects of the software for our trial firm and were blown away by how easy it was.
Any firm that uses Clio for billing should instantly see a decrease in billing disputes and an increase in cash flow. And, you’ll nearly eliminate “non billable hours,” time wasted performing tedious tasks, and reviewing repetitive processes.
A few of the features that stood out were:
- Account for everything – Add time entries from calendar events, tasks, notes, communications, and documents. You can even correct time entries after the fact in case you’ve made a mistake.
- See time entries through payment – Clio claims you can get paid up to 39% faster by accepting online credit card payments. This is because you can create time entries that appear on bills AND share invoices with clients directly through the software.
- Expense tracking: Streamline the tracking of hard and soft expenses and simplify year-end reconciliations.
GREAT FEATURE – Billing Automations
Clio eliminates countless wasted hours via billing automation. Huge firms with hundreds of invoices can create a single template with a default billing rate applied instantly. Instead of painstakingly creating a new invoice from scratch every time, you can use Clio to create a template with the default rate and other info already applied to shorten your billing process!
Accounting (Clio Pay)
Clio Payments (powered by LawPay) is your firm’s way to get paid faster and improve collection rates. Accounting and billing capabilities let clients access information via email and a secure client portal. Clio Payments allows lawyers to receive payments directly into a client’s trust or an operating account
This is one of the best built-in credit card processors available in legal management software.
Our team loved it. Why? Unlike normal payment processing, using Clio Pay means you never have to leave the familiar software, use a physical machine, or waste time in an integration. Everything works directly through Clio, keeping the whole process simple and streamlined.
Here’s a quick example
Imagine trying to bill a client WITHOUT a legal payment processor. You’d either need your own physical machine for local payments or to accept wire transfers or checks.
With Clio Pay, you can attach a bill directly to an email and send your client a secure payment link directly to their inbox. The easier it is for a client to pay you, the more likely they’ll pay fast and in full.
And, it all comes at an industry-low rate of 1.95% + 20¢ per transaction for major credit cards (far below normal processing fees).
What we didn’t like is that setting up Clio Payments is a bit difficult. You’ll need to use this setup tutorial. However, it’s 100% worth it.
NOTE: Clio lets you see all your payments at a glance through a payment portal. This makes it easy to see pending payments, process refunds, and get to the bottom of voided transactions.
In case you’re overseas (Clio Payments is only available in the US and Canada) or prefer working with different software, Clio integrates seamlessly with:
- Quickbooks Online
- Quickbooks Desktop
- Trust Books
- Digitory Legal
Client Intake Management (CRM) – Clio Grow
Client intake management ensures you take advantage of every possible opportunity to grow. And, it saves time and improves efficiency.
The only issue here is that Clio’s client relationship management (CRM) is not included in the management pricing. You need to pay for Clio Grow ($49/mo PER USER) to access all of the features.
The CRM portion of this service lets you:
- Organize contacts in a simple tagging system
- View a snapshot of the current status of each client
- Automate tedious tasks (e.g. Appointment reminders)
This is one of the best ways to onboard and manage clients, improve efficiency, and increase profitability all for one low monthly fee.
A few of the features that stood out to us were:
- Automatically create tasks and reminders: Large firms will never miss a follow-up or lose a lead to mismanagement. It’s easy to create automated reminders with Clio.
- Automated emails: We were able to create a simple email funnel to engage new customers after following a simple tutorial.
- Lead organization: The tagging system is so simple that anyone can do it. Categorizing leads based on multiple factors will empower you to focus your energy where it’s needed most.
Overall, the CRM is a major growth hack for mid and large-sized firms. However, it’s a bit overkill for small firms or solo lawyers.
Clio’s security is second to none. And in the legal industry, that’s priority #1. One mistake can destroy a reputation.
First, it’s worth noting that Clio is approved by over 60 BAR Associations. That should be evidence enough. A few other noteworthy things about Clio are:
- Founding member of the Legal Cloud Computing Association
- Regular security testing from a leading cybersecurity firm
- Daily malware scans from McAfee
- AES 256-bit encryption from DigiCert, the same company that secures PayPal
- 99.9% guaranteed server uptime
Our team was impressed by Clio’s use of two-factor authentication (2FA) and role-based permissions. This means you can restrict who sees what within the software and verify every login from an approved mobile device. It’s truly next-level security.
User Interface (UX)
Few years ago, Clio’s interface and operation used to be a bit outdated.
The software has been overhauled, and the user interface experience is smooth, intuitive, and streamlined.
For example, it takes only a few clicks to perform the most important legal firm tasks (creating matters, billing, organizing contacts, etc). And it’s all done from a very user-friendly dashboard.
Everything you need is right at your fingertips from the dash, including matters and billing (where you’ll spend most of your time).
Personally, we love the black and white theme with a mix of blue. It’s very easy on the eyes, and we didn’t feel any strain even after using it for hours.
Clio Mobile App
If you are in and out of the office on a daily basis, Clio’s new mobile apps for Android and IOS and the cloud-based aspect of this platform will allow you to keep track of your schedule, access your cases, and contact clients as needed.
We don’t recommend Clio’s mobile app as your primary source of management, as the app is limited by your phone’s interface and processing power. If you have thousands of files or several attorneys working on the same platform, the mobile app can crash, creating more problems than the solutions it offers.
However, for quick changes or on-the-go management the Clio easy to use mobile platform can be a valuable asset to your law practice.
If you are looking for a law practice management software, you probably don’t have the time to be dealing with nonsense. But with such a comprehensive software solution, questions may arise. What then?
Clio’s support team and training videos make the learning curve significantly less stressful. Customer support is absolutely top-notch at Clio.
It’s unlikely that you will need to contact the support team, as most questions are answered in Clio’s training videos. But, if you ever do require Clio’s support, you can rest assured that the customer support team will help you out for years to come.
Clio is the world’s leading law firm software for good reason. No other legal practice management software serves as many clients in as many countries.
The client management, billing, timekeeping, and trust accounting are unrivaled. And the easy to use UX and security are nearly as good.
There’s a reason it’s approved by over 60 Bar Associations around the world.
If you’re looking for the best tool on the market for improving efficiency, remaining compliant, storing documents, and growing your firm, it’s Clio.
The pricing is intimidating for sure. Clio IS NOT cheap. But it is 100% worth the price for solo lawyers to large law firms. The vast majority of legal firms we are connected to are currently using it. You should be too.