Support Staff Friday! – Practice Management

A law firm is only as strong as the team it assembles, and the administrative and support staff can be just as important as the lawyer in the courtroom when it comes to profitability and work life balance.  In an effort to integrate various views on The Lawyer Life, I’m bringing in support staff and associates to create content for posts that we will feature on Fridays.  These folks are free to write anything that strikes them as relevant to the topic of creating a happier more productive life in the practice of law.  The first post in that series is being provided by Alicia Ivory.  Alicia is Operations Director for The Smith Firm, PLC in Oklahoma City and Dallas (my firm).  She has risen from an administrative assistant to pretty much running the show.  I hope you enjoy her first post on practice management platforms. 

Ever wonder what the other guy is doing that he is able to make it look so easy?  I’m betting he has the right tools for the job.  We, at my firm, are on a quest to find the absolute best applications and systems in all areas of practice management.  I can tell you that we have stumbled a lot more than we’ve run, but we are starting to get to a place where we are excited about the applications and tools that we are utilizing to help us become more efficient, more mobile and, of course more lucrative.

When I came to work at my firm, more than a year ago, we were using Time Matters and Billing Matters by Lexis Nexis, considered by some to be the Cadillac of practice management platforms.  When I looked at it for the first time it was overwhelming, confusing, and I literally thought to myself, “What in the world am I supposed to do with this?”  I’m fairly certain that at the time my opinion mattered little, so I tried my best to make sense of it.  With two offices in two states, we needed a better cloud option, and we had a business manager that wanted to switch the accounting feature to Quickbooks (I’m not ashamed to say I secretly gave her a high five in the hallway) so a little more than a year ago we switched our practice management platform to Clio.

We tried Clio for a week and we were sold!  It was user-friendly and malleable.  It could be what we needed it to be, a strait forward, cloud-based platform that simply worked.  We set the parameters for our practice needs, and create the systems within Clio that we wanted, and we don’t have to call support every time to do it.  The best part is that we feel like Clio actually listened to suggestions we had, as well as others, and they keep working to improve the platform.

I will say that Time Matters does have more features than Clio but, overall we’re finding that Clio’s ability to integrate with other applications like: Google Apps, Law Pay, Dropbox, and Xero, is moving us forward in our quest to be “The Other Guy.”  And with my boss’s schedule being in multiple states on any given week, the mobility of the platform, and integration with other applications, is great.  It helps our attorneys practice better, and maintain better balance in their work lives.  And with Clio’s updates and improvements we’re finding that right when we start to miss something about TimeMatters, Clio comes out with something new.  And now that I’m managing the office, my opinion matters more than it did; and Clio has my vote.

Alicia Ivory is Operations Director for The Smith Firm, PLC, a general civil practice firm with offices in Oklahoma and Texas.  Ms. Ivory is a Certified Clio Consultant and can be reached at alicia@thesmithfirm.net.