Clio Turns Tasks into Processes: Sample Settlement Process

Dec 9, 2014 By Peggy Gruenke, Certified Clio Consultant and Xero Certified

This year, Clio introduced a new way to do tasks which, coupled with the Gmail integration, has pretty much brought a whole new level of organization, efficiency and productivity to getting work done with Clio. Task management was an area Clio needed to give a facelift and the Clio team gave it more than just a facelift. Clio’s new smart, cascading tasks feature saves you a lot of time, knowing exactly what you need to do with each new matter or milestone within a matter instead of having to create the same tasks every time.

Now you can turn all those well-written processes you have in your firm manual into auto generated processes and tasks. Sounds a bit like project management. Here is a sample of setting up a settlement process using Clio’s cascading tasks,  managing how it gets done, when it gets done and who will be doing it. Managing the resources, the time and the workflow.

There are certain types of funds that require special handling. Settlement funds fall into this category. There are ethical duties a law firm must adhere to when handling such funds. Clio has great tools to help you manage client settlement funds. These tools ensure proper accounting procedures are followed and the transactions are correctly recorded in the client trust account.

When processing settlement transactions, there are usually many pieces of the puzzle that need to fit together in the right sequence and with the correct calculations. The more you can automate this process, the less chance for errors. This article will illustrate how to use Clio to correctly and efficiently process settlements using two Clio features:

  1. Document templates with custom fields
  2. Task Templates and Cascading Tasks

1. Creating a Settlement Worksheet Document Template

For complete details on how to create and upload an Excel document template, here is a link to a Clio support article.

The settlement worksheet includes defining matter custom level fields and creating a matter custom field set. From the Settings/Custom Fields, add the following matter level custom fields:

  • Settlement Offer Amount (Type = Money)
  • % of Settlement for Attorney Fees (Type = Integer)
  • Settlement Check Amount (Type = Money)
  • Settlement Check # (Type = One Line Text)

Then create a custom field set called Settlement Fields and include the above fields in this custom set.

custom fields settlement 1

Create the template with Clio form field names and upload the Excel template to the Clio Documents/Template. The template will look like this; note the color-coded key regarding fields.

custom fields settlement 2

 

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A Clio Workflow for Collecting on Past Due Accounts

Past Due and ClioWant to make sure the collections work on past due accounts gets delegated and completed?

Well, here is a way to do it – the Clio Way.

At a client meeting the other day, the discussion of past due accounts came up. How can we get paid faster on past due accounts and keep our collection realization rate higher? Two great questions for law firm owners to be thinking about and then find a way to automate and delegate.

Sending out collection letters and tracking this activity is a task that probably makes it to the monthly to-do-list but often times slips to the end of the list. Before you know it, it’s 30 days later and those past due accounts are now 60 days past due affecting your collection realization rates even more.

Let’s face it, it is a dreadful task. First, the effort of identifying the past due accounts and then writing the letters, mailing them, and creating a process to make sure the follow-up steps are completed. It you are lucky, maybe one letter is all they needed to remind them to pay. Most likely, the letter alone is not going to motivate a dead-beat client to pay the past due invoice. It will be the follow-up phone calls and subsequent letters that are sent that may get them to pay. That’s why you need a workflow in place.

Another reason this collection process is painful is because it forces you to face the fact that maybe your client selection process wasn’t so great, that you should have asked for and received a larger retainer, or that you should have stopped working before getting in so deep. Either way, what’s done is done and lessons learned can be applied moving forward.

Let’s get started: Setting up the process in Clio

  1. Using the Clio document template feature, convert your collection letters into Clio templates. Design 3 letters named:
    • Phase 1 Collections (gentle reminder),
    • Phase 2 Collections (a little harder nudge)
    • Phase 3 Collections (pay now or off to the collections agency you go)

  1. 2. Define your Task List using the new Task List feature in Clio.
    • Task 1 – Send Phase 1 letter
    • Task 2 – Call if no payment from letter 1
    • Task 3 – Send Phase 2 letter
    • Task 4 – Call if no payment from 2nd letter
    • Etc..


Now, using your new process

First, your firm should have a written collection policy in place that takes into account two functions: how to keep track of clients who are behind on their payments and how to contact clients when they are late paying their bills. The policy will include this workflow and designate who within the firm is responsible for each step.

Here is a sample workflow.

  1. Create a task for yourself to run the Clio Accounts Receivable report every Friday afternoon. Per you firm collection policy, you will have decided when a Phase 1 Collection Letter gets sent and if a certain amount past due triggers the collection letter process. I suggest sending one as soon as the account is ver 30 days. Export the report to Excel so you can easily sort it by due date and see amount due.
  2. Once the new past due accounts are identified, go to the Matter and assign the Collections Task List to the matter. This will automatically create a series of tasks for the matter, assigned to the person you designated when you built the task list.
  3. Now that the tasks are created, you will have to go to each task and assign the due date. (I suspect the ClioLab team is busy designing improvements to the task list feature to improve this step). When you created the task list, you set certain defaults, like who the task is assigned to and how reminders should be sent, which can be overridden.
  4. Below is a screen shot of the new collection workflow, the tasks set with the correct due dates scheduled for the periodic follow-up (which are defined in your collection policy).

Putting the process in action

The firm member who you assigned the tasks to will see these tasks on their task list. BTW, did you know you could set your Clio tasks to sync with Gmail Tasks?

Per your collection manual instructions, the person assigned to complete the collection tasks will upload the document templates, send off the letters, mark the task as complete and then monitor for payments. (This person will need to be set up in Clio to have access to the reports). If payments are made, subsequent tasks can be deleted since they will not be needed.

Suggestion: When marking tasks as complete, add a note about the payment made or conversation with client.

Additional features you can add to the workflow

If in your collection letter, you allow the client the opportunity to go on a payment plan, then add these as tasks to Clio to remind you to track the payments.

If you have any questions about how to create this workflow, please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to help you out.

Peggy Gruenke | @PeggyGruenke | On LinkedIn

Clio Emerges as a Platform not a Product – ClioCon 2014

September 24, 2014 By Peggy Gruenke, Clio Consultant, Gold Certified

ClioCloud9The big news out of Clio conference (#ClioCloud9) this year was integration and the evolution of the Clio ecosystem, transforming Clio into a platform not just a product. A platform is a structure made up of integrated features. For instance, Google in 1998 wasn’t a platform; it was a really neat search engine. By adding Gmail, Maps, Docs, Voice, YouTube, and countless others, it became a true platform.

By Clio building a powerful platform, they have cultivated an ecosystem of developers, partners, users, and other collaborators who are contributing to creating better products and a more robust user experience. Their core product is being developed and improved upon in innovative ways and at #ClioCloud9 2014, the 450 attendees experienced this first-hand. Below is an overview of the integrated features announced at the conference and how the attendees got to experience all of this first-hand.

Clio set the stage for this event with the launch of their phenomenal conference app days before the start of the conference. Attendees, speakers and vendors were building relationships and talking about the anticipated announcements of new features and products even before setting foot in Chicago. The Clio social machine was put in motion and so was the competition for first place on the app.

The social continued with co-founder Jack Newton’s “selfie” taken from the stage and the 450 attendees, vendors and speakers re-tweeting and putting in motion #cliocloud9 to trend on Twitter in 17 seconds! Pretty amazing. From the stage, Jack challenged everyone to take the opportunities available at the conference to increase their knowledge and become product ninjas and business superstars.

Before getting to the list of new integrations, a big shout out to two of my favorite and frequently visited rooms: the Smart Bar and The Clio Lab.

The Smart Bar was a huge success at the 2013 conference and this year the need to make an appointment was a sign that this was shaping up to be another popular room for Clio users. Similar to Apple’s Genius Bar idea, the Clio “Smart Bar” was a room where attendees could get one-on-one personal support from Clio’s world-class team. It was also a great place to connect with the fabulous support staff that is sometimes on the other end of the phone.

The Clio Lab was one of my favorite stops, especially with the announcement of the @Zapier integration. In the Clio Lab, attendees could test out new features, get a sneak peek at what the Clio development team is working on and learn first hand how Clio gets designed and improved upon every day. As a matter of fact, they were busy coding improvements to features based on attendees’ suggestions during the conference. Because platform companies can move faster!

A preview of new integrations announced to help take Clio users’ practices to the next level and for them to grow their own knowledge base.

@Zapier: Now this is going to be fun. With the Clio/@Zapier integration, you can tell @Zapier to do something based on something that takes place in Clio. In a simple application, I set one up so that every time I add a new contact to Clio, it automatically adds that new contact to my Gmail contacts. It’s a Zap! With Zapier, Clio now integrates with over 300 web apps (including Evernote, Mailchimp, Basecamp, and more.)

CuroLegal, who focuses on helping lawyers spend more time serving their clients, is building a product based on @Zapier integration. This integration will allow lawyers to assign a task to a CuroLegal virtual assistant (VA) through the lawyers’ Clio account and automatically create a support ticket for the Curo VA services team to complete. The ecosystem is growing!

Nextpoint:The partnership between Nextpoint’s evidence management system and Clio makes it possible for lawyers to integrate their time and billing and litigation workflows. Nextpoint also offered every Clio conference attendee a free subscription!

Fastcase:With this partnership, legal professionals can track time spent researching without focusing attention away from the task at hand. From inside Fastcase, you can now select from clients and matters in Clio, start a timer for your research session, and record the activity automatically in Clio. You never have to miss or manually record your research time again. Bingo – save more time using Clio.

JurisPage: JurisPage provides professional, mobile-ready law firm websites fully integrated with Clio. With a JurisPage-powered website, you can streamline your lead generation and collection process. Instead of having to manually copy all of your website’s contact form submissions, with JurisPage all of your contact form submissions will automatically create new client contacts in Clio. Save more time – do you sense a theme developing?

Alteva: How many times have been asked, “Can Clio capture my time spent on phone calls?” The answer is now YES with the announcement of this new integration. With the Alteva Clio connector, you talk on your office phone or cell phone and all call times, billable hours and details automatically get logged in your Clio matter.

QuickBooks Online integration was announced as coming in the near future. No other news to report on this integration. However, the Xero/Clio integration continues to improve. Automatically connect client invoices and expenses in Clio with Xero to complete the accounting and billing process for your law firm. From my viewpoint, the Xero integration is so seamless and comprehensive that it remains my top pick of timesaving integrated products.

Here is a list of all of Clio’s third-party integration partners. It will be exciting to see the Clio platform continue to develop and the Clio community continue to grow. ClioCloud9 2015 is set for October 19th – 20th in Chicago.

Peggy Gruenke | On Twitter | On LinkedIn