ALPS In Brief Podcast – Episode 11: Where Legal Tech is Heading

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ALPS In Brief Podcast – Episode 11: Where Legal Tech is Heading

If you are not already aware, ALPS proudly partners with Clio, the easy-to-use cloud-based law practice management software company with over 150,000 subscribing lawyers.  ALPS policyholders enjoy a 10% lifetime discount on their Clio subscription. We are also lucky to work with Clio to better understand where legal tech is heading and how we can leverage these advancements as they relate to risk management. ALPS Risk Manager Mark Bassingthwaighte connected with Clio’s Content Strategist Teresa Matich and Lawyer-in-Residence Joshua Lenon to elaborate on Teresa’s recent blog, 10 Predictions for the Next 10 Years of Legal Tech. The predictions were gathered via Clio Advocates, an online community of legal professionals, legal tech visionaries, and Clio team members. The discussion unearthed some of their most interesting findings. Joshua also weighed in on why lawyers should innovate their practices to avoid risk rather than maintaining the status quo out of fear of the unknown. Joshua also discussed how Clio is helping the legal community innovate intelligently through its million dollar development fund.

ALPS In Brief, The ALPS Risk Management Podcast, is hosted by ALPS Risk Manager, Mark Bassingthwaighte.

Transcript:

MARK:

Welcome to another episode of ALPS in Brief, the ALPS risk management podcast. We’re coming to you from the ALPS home office in the historic Florence building in beautiful downtown Missoula, Montana. I’m Mark Bassingthwaighte, the ALPS risk manager, and I have the pleasure of sitting down today with Teresa Matich and Joshua Lenon, both with Clio, a company that delivers cloud-based practice management technologies to lawyers worldwide. Teresa, Joshua, welcome. It’s a pleasure. Before we jump into the conversation we’re about to have, can you just take a few brief moments and tell our listeners a little bit about yourselves?

TERESA:

Sure. I’m Teresa Matich. I’m a content strategist at Clio, and I manage the Clio blog, where we write about legal technology and the business of law for law firms of all types.

JOSHUA:

I’m Joshua Lenon. I’m the lawyer in residence at Clio. I provide legal scholarship and subject matter expertise to our teams throughout Clio, including Teresa’s great blog.

MARK:

That is a good blog, I’ll give you that. I enjoy it, and that’s really what sort of prompted this podcast idea. It’s been a little while, a week or so here, but you came up with the top ten legal predictions for the next 10 years, and that was just one of your blog posts. I thought that was very, very interesting. Normally when you see these predictions for what’s going to happen, it’s some lawyer sitting down or some tech person sitting down, but this really came out of the advocate community, as I understand it.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Clio advocates community, talk about how the predictions were collected, and just tell us a little bit about the process?

TERESA:

Sure. We wanted to look at predictions for legal tech over the next 10 years, because it’s actually Clio’s 10th anniversary this year. 10 years ago, Jack and Ryan set out to build Clio and today Clio is the most powerful and popular cloud-based practice management platform available with 150,000 users in 90 countries. A big part of Clio’s success has been the people who use Clio, so we thought it would be fitting to ask them what their predictions are for the next 10 years. As you mentioned, the post came out of a discussion in Clio’s advocates community, which is the official Clio community where customers can go to discuss legal topics, share their expertise, get advice, and just engage with each other and build that community.

Anyone who wants to join can learn more. You can join at advocates.com/join/advocates. There was discussion going on. We asked what their predictions were for the next 10 years, and we picked some of the most popular ones for this blog post.

MARK:

Nice. When you look at this, in terms of popular … What surprised you the most about what you found?

TERESA:

There were a few things. The one thing that surprised me in the discussion was how many people predicted that paperless law firms were going to be a big thing in the next 10 years.

MARK:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

TERESA:

Paperless is a big thing for a lot of law firms now, and I guess I was surprised to see so many law firms seeing that trend continuing and seeing law firms not just be mostly paperless but entirely paperless in the next 10 years. The second thing, along similar lines, is one person’s prediction that traditional offices would disappear entirely, and that jurisdictional issues would go away, and lawyers would work across state lines with lawyers in other jurisdictions. Whether you got a mobile practice or you’re working from home or you’re using a shared workspace, that trend is only going to continue, which does make a little bit of sense.

MARK:

Yeah.

TERESA:

Office overhead is expensive, and then the third thing was Jordan Couch’s prediction that lawyers will practice more like doctors, which was a really interesting way to frame it. In his view, artificial intelligence and automation will not threaten the jobs of lawyers by passing off more routine tasks to apps and services and other legal professionals. Lawyers, like surgeons, are going to be able to focus more on their craft and more on practicing law, which is what most of them want to do in the first place.

If you’ve got a platform like Clio where you can log time with just a few clicks, communicate with your clients securely, and look at reports and data to see how your firm can improve, you’re going to much better off than if you’re trying to do those things all on your own without the right tool.

MARK:

It’s interesting, and I agree with some of these predictions, just in terms of our own experience, and I do a lot of consulting over the years with apps and just in terms of visiting with firms around the country, but we are seeing more and more, in terms of just supporting what the advocates are saying, lawyers are moving into the, if you will, virtual space or virtual practice space. I see more telecommuting. I do see an increased pace of movement to the cloud, in terms of dropping off the paper, kind of, side here with all of that. It’s been fun. It’s interesting.

I’m the risk guy, as you’re well aware, and work with the malpractice insurance carrier. This is our world. Thinking about the advocate community, the kinds of things you’re seeing and learning, what do you think we should be educating our policyholders about? Do you have any thoughts on that one?

JOSHUA:

I do think risk always is a factor when it comes to running any type of business, not just a law firm, but lawyers actually have a phenomenal resource that they’re under-utilizing when it comes to managing, measuring, and preparing for risk, and that is their professional liability insurers. Too many lawyers don’t innovate because they think their liability insurer will say no, when in fact, what liability insurers in my experience look for is a bit of collaboration, a little two-way communication, such that they can prepare alongside the law firms for these upcoming changes.

Lawyers who want to innovate should, but they should be reaching out to their liability insurers and making sure that everybody’s on the same page moving forward. In fact, they can probably get some great advice from their insurers on what’s worked for other firms, and better approaches towards managing that risk if there is a factor in their expense.

MARK:

Again, I agree. I’m getting more and more these calls and emails coming in, talking about, “Is it safe to be in the cloud? I’d kind of like to go here, but we’re afraid that you as our insurer will say, ‘Oh, no. That’s too risky.'” My response is, I don’t think you guys can get to the cloud fast enough. Part of my challenge is, in trying to educate, say, when you think about moving to the cloud, we need to … It’s not the cloud, if you will, it’s how we interact with the cloud, and so there’s an opportunity for me to do some training and educating in terms of how to use it more responsibly.

As I’ve looked at your site and we have a partnership here in terms of Clio and ALPS, and our insurance, do get some discounts in working with you folks, and so we’re well aware of what you do. I’ve been very interested in your million dollar Clio development fund. Can you tell our listeners a bit more about what this fund is about? How do you envision this helping current and future Clio subscribers, and maybe tell us a little bit about what’s already being funded?

JOSHUA:

Thanks, Mark. The developer fund is an experiment, but one that we’re very excited about. We know that there’s no one way to practice law. In fact, our advocates community, the feedback loops that we have via our support team, all tell us of lawyers having, sometimes, very highly specialized needs when it comes to their technology. While Clio is a great platform and highly customizable, it doesn’t have, necessarily, every tool for every niche practice out there.

We’ve been very fortunate to leverage cloud technology to create a platform where law firms can pick their favorite tools to meet their needs and specifications, and plug them into Clio, such that information syncs back and forth, it reduces transcription error, it increases responsiveness, and generally prevents a lot of the different types of complaints that we see coming towards lawyers when it comes to juggling a whole bunch of different data silos separately. When it comes to the developer fund, we know that it’s very difficult for tools that target niche practices or niche functions within those practices, to really get up and running fast enough to be sustainable, so our developer fund is one way of us taking our success and investing in these third party tools, such that they’re creating these highly specialized components that law firms can plug in.

For example, if you are an immigration firm and really need a strong workflow for soliciting family information or business information and populating those government forms quickly on behalf of your clients, we have several tools that now plug into Clio and just do that for you. Clio will handle your time and billing, your secure communications with those clients, but this plugin tool will handle the forms for you, and between the two, you have an entire immigration practice basically in the palm of your hand on your mobile phone.

If you are an IP attorney, you can plug in a tool like Alt Legal and that will handle your patent documenting for you, which is, again, a highly specialized workflow that Clio would love to build, but it only represents a portion of the 150,000 lawyers that we service, so we have to pick and choose, but we can devote things like our developer fund to get massive scale and massive functionality for lawyers around the world with a cooperative environment.

MARK:

What I hear, and what I really like about this, is, again, talking with our insureds over the past five to eight years as they look at this possibility of moving into the cloud. There’ve been all kinds of roadblocks that I hear, and what you’re saying is, we’re now in front of this. We are removing the roadblocks so that we can make the transition for this, particularly what I … In terms of a lot of our insureds, the solo, small firm lawyers, make this transition to the cloud very smooth and make them far more productive. I just think this is a fantastic approach. Very exciting things happening. That’s just fantastic.

We’re about running out of time, here. To wrap up, can I have each of you just share a final thought in terms of encouraging, why is it important for legal professionals to at least understand, if not move forward and embrace technology at the level of the like of which Clio offers, that kind of thing? What are your thoughts, final closing thought?

TERESA:

Sure. First, I would say that knowing the benefits and risks of technology is fast-becoming a necessity, not a nice-to-have. 31 states have already adopted comment eight on the ABA’s model rule for professional conduct, rule 1.1, and that states that law firms must stay abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with technology. If you’re not using technology to serve your clients better or if you’re not aware of the risks that come with technology, it’s really important to get educated. The Clio blog covers these topics regularly and you can subscribe to that at clio.com/blog. We put out a regular digest with articles.

The second thing I would say is that technology can do a lot to help you practice more efficiently and help your clients better and focus more on the practice of the law. As Jordan said, lawyers who leverage technology are going to have more of an opportunity to focus on what they got into law to do in the first place.

JOSHUA:

I think that it’s only going to get better from here. That’s one of the exciting things about legal technology, is I think we’re at an inflection point, where better and better tools will come into the hands of lawyers, giving better and better service to their clients, and getting in on the ground floor of that is a market opportunity for the law firms out there.

MARK:

Yeah, yeah. You know, may I just throw one other question at you, based on a conversation I had actually a little bit earlier this morning with another one of our insureds. I would just be curious in terms of the thoughts of either of you on this one. I’m going to restate it, but, this comes up quite a bit in my world. Mark, I’m thinking about looking at a cloud product, whether it’s just file storage to a full practice management solution, such as Clio, but my concern is, if I start to let go of my data, I’m concerned about the security of all of that. I am now out of control. What would your response be to someone that says, “I’m just having a little trouble letting go.” Can you speak to just data security overall in a solution like Clio versus just keeping everything local?

JOSHUA:

You got it. First of all, dollar per dollar, you get more security moving to a reputable cloud provider than you can ever provide inside of your office, things like 24/7 supervision of the technology are things that Clio provides that a lawyer just can’t do in a smaller boutique firm. There’s, unfortunately, just not enough dollars to cover that type of security coverage, so moving to the cloud is a great way to get more for your money, but you do have to pick a reputable provider. One way to find out if somebody’s a reputable provider, is to look at their transparency when it comes to their security preparations, their willingness to answer your questions, and, quite frankly, their reputation amongst a lot of your peers.

Clio, for example, has a public report on our status for how long we’ve been up, for the last … I think it goes back an entire year now, the current report, and for the last three months, for example, I can tell you that Clio has been down a total of three minutes over those three months. That’s the type of transparency we provide. We also provide third party security audits that are done on either and hourly or daily basis, depending on which of the three reports you look at. Those are available to the public as well, so you can always see how we’re doing and whether or not we’re leading the market in security, or lagging behind. Our goal is to always be leading.

MARK:

Yeah, yeah.

JOSHUA:

Yeah, and because of that, then you can take a look and see, not only are we being transparent, but then, what’s our reputational effect? Our partnership with ALPS, for example, is one metric that a firm could look at to see that, not only are we being transparent, but we’re also being vetted by people who are knowledgeable in the business, and that deem us to be a good bet.

MARK:

I appreciate you sharing that, Joshua. I do think it’s important for our listeners to hear directly, if you will, from the horse’s mouth, the answer to the question, so thank you for taking the time for that, and boy, I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s the same message I try to preach, but again, sometimes hearing it from the provider themselves, for themselves, is an important thing. That’s about all the time we have today. Teresa, Joshua, thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure, and for our listeners, I hope you found something of value and interest today out of this conversation. If, in future, you have any ideas for topics or questions or concerns you’d like to see addressed in one of these podcasts, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at mbass@alpsnet.com. Thanks again, thanks for listening. Have a good one, folks. Bye bye.

 

Joshua Lenon is an attorney admitted to the New York Bar.  He studied law at St. Louis University School of Law, obtaining a Juris Doctorate and a Certificate in International and Comparative Law. Joshua has since helped legal practitioners improve their services, working for Thomson Reuters’ publishing departments in both the United States and Canada. Joshua currently serves as Lawyer-in-Residence for Clio, providing legal scholarship and research skills to the leading cloud-based practice management platform from Vancouver, Canada. He’s been a guest lecturer for movements like legal hacking and legal technology at schools like MIT, Suffolk Law, and Vanderbilt, as well as before organizations like ReinventLaw and the ABA Law Practice Futures Initiative.

 

Teresa Matich manages the Clio Blog, where she writes about legal technology and the business of law for legal professionals at firms of all sizes. She has previously worked as a reporter in the financial sector, and prior to that, she worked as an office clerk at a Vancouver real estate law firm.

 

 

 

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Since 1998, Mark Bassingthwaighte, Esq. has been a Risk Manager with ALPS, an attorney’s professional liability insurance carrier. In his tenure with the company, Mr. Bassingthwaighte has conducted over 1200 law firm risk management assessment visits, presented over 400 continuing legal education seminars throughout the United States, and written extensively on risk management, ethics, and technology. Mr. Bassingthwaighte is a member of the State Bar of Montana as well as the American Bar Association where he currently sits on the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility’s Conference Planning Committee. He received his J.D. from Drake University Law School.