Q&A with Jack Newton, CEO and Co-founder of Clio
Clio Raised $250 Million in Largest Legal Tech Investment Round of 2019
Where would you say the legal industry is at today in terms of how law firms work?
The legal industry is at a crossroads, and lawyers are at the wheel when it comes to deciding where to take the profession. Despite being one of the world's oldest professions, it’s been entrenched in many practices and beliefs that have caused it to lag behind other industries. But while lawyers have much to catch up on, they also have so many opportunities to really lead innovation—both in legal, as well as across professional services in general.
What are some of the most critical challenges that law firms face?
Law firms need to shift their mindset to be fundamentally client-centric, which means thinking about how they can best meet the rapidly shifting expectations that consumers have of their legal solution providers. Data from Clio’s annual Legal Trends Report shows just how large the gap is between consumer expectations and the reality of working with a lawyer, and bridging this gap presents the single biggest challenge—and opportunity—facing law firms today.
We hear so often about clients struggling to find a lawyer to help them with their problems. In fact, the research of the World Justice Project shows that 77% of legal problems don't receive any professional legal help. In the most recent Legal Trends Report, we actually put firms to the test, emailing 1,000 law firms and calling 500 of them, with questions that any typical client would have when looking to hire a law firm. 60% of firms didn't respond to our email, and 27% were unreachable by phone. Of those who we did communicate with, the vast majority were unable to provide the type of information that clients want.
What do today’s legal clients want?
Clients want transparency, predictability, and responsiveness. They want to speak with a lawyer who can provide clarity on how they can help, and how the client should proceed if they want to pursue their matter. At the very least, they want to know that their needs are going to be met. This has been a major focus of my new book, The Client-Centered Law Firm, coming out in the new year, where I write extensively about reimagining legal services to be more client-centered—illustrating on the what, why, and how—based on numerous examples from forward-thinking legal professionals who are already putting these practices into action.
How is Clio helping law firms?
At Clio, we're building what we see as the operating system for legal practice, a platform of technology solutions that will enhance the capacity for success at any law firm—whether you're running a solo practice or working at a firm with hundreds of lawyers working across multiple offices and jurisdictions. As a foundation, we want to make law firms more efficient so that they can provide better client services in a way that benefits both clients and the firm. Clio currently offers a suite of legal technology that includes legal practice management, client intake and legal CRM software.
How does Clio work with other solutions?
Beyond Clio's suite of products, Clio's App Directory features over 200 additional services that integrate directly with our apps. We're able to cultivate such a vibrant ecosystem of technology solutions because our products feature an open API format, which means that anybody can design their products to work directly with the capabilities featured in Clio's apps. In fact, we have hosted a $100,000 Launch//Code contest for the past two years to help incentivize new innovations and to really push the boundaries of what's possible.
What’s next for the future of legal technology?
We’ve spent our first decade building out a platform that helps firms be more efficient, and we have many innovations in the pipeline that will see us continuing to execute on this aspect of our vision. Over the next decade, however, we’ll be focusing on an area we see ripe for innovation both at the technology and law-firm level, and that area is focused on creating exceptional client experiences.
Innovations like the ability to accept credit card payments through Clio has opened up new efficiencies in collecting payments and setting up automatic trust deposits and convenient payment plans. Just recently, we announced Clio Scheduler, a Clio Suite feature that automates the process of booking meetings with a lawyer, making the process so much simpler for clients. We also announced a new Firm Dashboard in Clio Manage that helps lawyers stay hyper-focused on their overall business performance. These are the types of innovations that will bring real benefits to both lawyers and their clients, delivering improved law firm productivity while realizing a vastly improved client experience.