Clio 2021 Legal Trends Report

Yesterday was the first day of the Clio Cloud Conference 2021. Clio does a fantastic job of wowing the attendees and creating a community of loyal followers.

Every year the don’t-miss speaker is CEO and Founder, Jack Newton. Jack has big visions. And his execution with Clio has been huge. In April of this year, Clio raised a $110M dollar Series E funding with a $1.6B valuation. When Jack speaks, people are eager to hear what Jack is planning next.

Of the many announcements from Clio today, three are:

  1. Clio Payments: Jack Newton says, “…the most frequent point of friction in attorney-client relationships is collections.” Clio Payments is integrated with the Clio cloud-based practice management platform and syncs with accounting platforms, such as Quicken and Xero.
  2. Clio Ventures: Clio will invest in “promising early stage companies and diverse founders” developing for the Clio platform. Clio has acquired a few companies, most recently Lawyaw, a YC-backed legal document automation company, which had been a Clio partner.
  3. Clio 2021 Legal Trends Report: I look forward to this annual report, full of timely data. The PDF is a free download with registration. I highly recommend that you take a look at it.

I’m highlighting a few points which interested me. There is much more in the report.

First Key Take-away: Client expectations have changed

As we saw in the 2020 Legal Trends Report, the pandemic understandably accelerated clients’ willingness to work with a lawyer remotely. With Clio’s annual data collection, they were able to illustrate the change from 2018 to 2021.

The report further digs into this data by stage of engagement and type of remote communication medium.

Second Key Take-away: Remote services are only part of the picture

I’ve yet to see any survey of criteria on choosing a lawyer in which responsiveness was not the top criteria. Here, “Responsiveness to questions” leads “Price transparency” by a hair. No technology, no remote or in-person meeting capability, is likely to surpass the importance of responsiveness.

Third Key Take-away: Growing firms are really growing.

This data mirrors the data which we saw in early 2021 with respect to the blockbuster year that Big Law had in 2020. See the report for a deeper dive, for example, that growing firms are more likely to be using on-line payments, client portals, and CRM.

And there is more fun stuff!

Vicariously, I like to study the hourly rates by state and by practice.

Also, the KPI data on utilization, realization, and collection rates is eye-opening.

You can download the report from Clio here.

I’d like to thank Clio for widely sharing this fascinating data about the legal market each year. They are committed to the legal community.

-Maureen

Per the Data: Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal

Is remote work merely a short-term necessity or will it have legs when it is again safe to work in the law firm office? As we head into one full year of remote work, I set out to see if there were data which would substantiate the direction of remote work.

What I learned paints a compelling rationale for remote work continuing. For some people, it might be for only one or two days a week. But the preference for a hybrid work model is clear.

There are two supporting dynamics:

  1. The economics of remote work were positive in 2020. Law firms will likely make changes, for instance in leases, to capitalize on this going forward.
  2. Attorneys made a positive adjustment to working from home and would like to retain some of that flexibility in the future.

In this post, I highlight a few of the interesting data points which I found. You can view and download (no registration) my full slide deck, “Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal” here.

A key law firm financial metric is Profitability per Equity Partner. The results show that for Big Law and mid-sized law firms profitability grew significantly in the 12 months leading up to November of 2020. In part this was due to law firm rate increases established in December 2019 and to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), both on the income side.

Graph Profit per Equity Partner
Profit Per Equity Partner Growth 2019 and 2020

However, on the expense side, it is also due to law firms cutting overhead expenses in all but two categories, technology and Knowledge Management.

Graph Overhead Expense Growth
Overhead Expense Growth by Category 2109 and 2020

Both of the above charts are from a terrific resource, “2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market” by Thomson Reuters and Georgetown Law Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession. This report is chock full of data. I highly recommend reading it if you work in a law firm. And, as good attorneys say, “read the footnotes” for gems. You may also listen to the podcast, “Was the Pandemic a Tipping Point for Law Firms?” which is based on the report. Bob Ambrogi interviewed Jim Jones, Senior Fellow at Georgetown and Director of its Program on Trends in Law Practice. Mr. Jones is a contributor to the report. He adds interesting color to the report findings in this interview.

A funny thing happened while attorneys toiled from home. They appreciated the benefits. The greatest benefit to attorneys and staff is the time gained by not commuting. For time-keepers the extra hours per week can add up to several days per year of additional billable hours plus additional leisure time to boot.

Now 85% of attorneys want to work from home at least one day per week.

Image Remote Work
“Lawyers put in 20 extra work days when working from home,” Legal Cheek, Aishah Hussain, January 8, 2021

Finally, here is an infographic with a few of the more illustrative points regarding remote work in law firms. You may download the Remote Work infographic PDF here.

Remote Work is Not a Phase in Legal infographic

How does this compare to your experience of working from home this past year? What work model would you like to see going forward?

-Maureen

Protect Your Data in a Remote Work Environment – ILTA Educational Webinar

Working remotely became a neccessity almost overnight. But were firm architectures ready? Two common entry points to system hacks, social engineering and network vulnerabilities, threaten the security of remote working. In this session, Mobile Helix CEO and Chief Architect, Seth Hallem, will describe these vulnerabilities and propose practical and actionable ways to address these weaknesses using safe browsing, network proxies, authentication, authorization, and DLP. These mitigations apply to both desktop and mobile devices.

This is an ILTA Educational Webinar. It is free to members as well as to non-members as part of ILTA’s COVID-19 content. Non-members may register for a free login-in.

WATCH THE RECORDED WEBINAR HERE

Outline:

I. Social engineering: Phishing, “Water Hole,” SIM card swaps

   Mitigations including:

    A. Safe browsing

    B. No SMS

    C. Web filtering via proxying

    D. Data Loss Prevention (DLP): printing, recipient checking, metadata filtering

II. Network vulnerabilities

    Mitigations including:

    A. Layered security

    B. Filter – proxy

    C. Authenticate the source – certificates, IP fencing, DoS defense

    D. Authenticate the user – AD credentials, complex passwords, SSO

    E. Authorize – manage email attachments

III. Example of a secure architecture

We welcome you and your questions on June 10th.

Write to us at: contact@mobilehelix dot com.

-Maureen

We Want to Help – Special LINK Offer

If our LINK app can help you to provide business continuity to your attorneys and staff in this unprecedented time, we want to get LINK in your hands.

We are extending this special offer:

  • Our free LINK app trial duration is now 90-days
    • Applies to trials which begin before August 31, 2020
  • You may add unlimited users
  • This will be a full production deployment including all of LINK’s security measures

LINK is best-suited for firms or departments of 30 users and up.

LINK’s server software is deployed on VMs on-prem, behind your firewall.

With LINK it’s easy and secure to work from tablets and smartphones. LINK is an encrypted, containerized mobile app, integrated with iManage, NetDocuments, email, Office 365, and the firm intranet. Lawyers and legal staff can review, annotate, compare, edit, and email documents with LINK.

We are happy to:

  • Tell you more about LINK
  • Show you a demo via Zoom
  • Describe the trial further

If I can help you, please email me at: maureen at mobilehelix dot com.

–Maureen, President & COO

Learn about what you can with LINK in this 2.5 minute video.

Statement on COVID-19 Business Continuity from Mobile Helix

At Mobile Helix, all of our employees have been working from home for several years. We are fully up and running and supporting our customers. Employees may exercise the flexibility which they may need to balance new work and home circumstances.

We have encouraged our LINK app customers to add as many users as needed. We are fortunate to have wonderful, loyal customers. We are happy to help them respond quickly to enable their attorneys and staff to work from home.

-Maureen Blando maureen at mobilehelix dotcom

We’re an official NetDocuments ISV Partner!

We’ve been a NetDocuments partner for years. Recently, with Leonard Johnson heading up their partner ecosystem, NetDocuments have formalized their NetDocuments ISV Partner Program. We have used their REST APIs to give NetDocuments users access to their documents and their email in the same encrypted container app, LINK. NetDocuments is committed to the platform approach wherein both Independent Software Vendors and NetDocuments customers can develop solutions for optimizing their workflows using the REST APIs.

It’s easy to review, compare, annotate, file, and email documents all within our LINK app. LINK also offers a managed integration with the Microsoft Office apps for editing on an iPad or smartphone.

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Our CEO in CSO: Ripped from the headlines – are your messages secure in these encrypted apps?

In the investigations of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, the FBI has retrieved messages from Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. While there are weaknesses inherent in all of these apps, the question remains: What does a good data protection scheme look like?

 

A few days ago, the FBI revealed that Michael Cohen’s messages sent with Signal and WhatsApp are now available as evidence in the on-going investigation into his various dealings. While thousands of emails and documents have already been recovered from Cohen’s devices, home, hotel room, and office, the recovery of data from messaging apps that promise end-to-end encryption is surprising. One would presume that end-to-end message encryption should ensure that those messages are unrecoverable without assistance from Mr. Cohen. However, clearly that is not the case.

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