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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The Evolving Role of a Paralegal in Today’s Law Firm Landscape

Paralegal

October 9, 2014 By: Peggy Gruenke, Law Practice Management Specialist

Like so many areas of the legal industry, the role of the paralegal has changed dramatically in recent years. Paralegals have always taken on tasks that do not require an attorney’s hand for completion, such as drafting complaints, motions, and responses. These tasks are the basic skill set that any trained paralegal should know how to complete. This skill set is not extraordinary. It’s the norm.

So where are the opportunities for paralegals to become more integral and successful? There are countless ways to add value to your firm beyond the basics. In this article, I’ll focus on basic client communication skills to help ensure a great client experience that will lead to future services or referrals and thus a more profitable practice for your lawyer.

Here are some tips to help you take it to the next level and become a real asset to your attorney’s practice.

Your role in client selection and engagement:

Client selection is so important to laying the foundation for a successful and profitable engagement. You can assist your attorney with process by working with him/her to create and implement some of the following:

  • Design a client-screening questionnaire that asks basic questions of prospects. The purpose of this form is to identify any red flags before your attorney wastes time with a free consultation. For example, asking for a prospect’s phone number and full address. If they balk at giving this information then ask yourself, “Why should my attorney give away 1 hour of his time if they are not willing to give this information to you?”
  • Consider creating a new client welcome packet
  • Create editable client intake forms using Adobe and setup these forms based on practice area. Each type of practice area has different key information that needs to be captured during the initial client meeting.
  • Create open file checklists so with every new case you are consistently completing tasks.
  • Try your hand at creating a fee agreement template form in Word so for each new case you are starting with a fresh document instead of cutting and pasting, which can lead to errors.

Your role in managing cases:

I call this understanding the economics of a law firm. This is where the you can become an asset to your attorney by helping in the following areas:

  • Understand how client’s fees are set and how expenses are billed.
  • Understand the billing cycle – from the time hours are entered, to client being billed and money actually collected.
  • Understand the importance of retainers and encourage your lawyer to request and get them. Also, learn as much as you can about trust accounting and the rules for you state. A bonus skill!
  • Understand that for each billable hour, the amount actually collected is determined by how much actually got put on the bill and how much actually got collected. This is referred to as billing realization rates and collection realization rates.
  • Understand the role you can play in making sure all billable time is captured, properly reviewed and discounts are minimized.

Your role in risk management

  • Adopt and use good calendaring and task management processes and be the gatekeeper so appointments, deadlines, court-filing dates, statute of limitations are not missed.
  • Create a system for assuring fee agreements are sent and signed copies are received and saved, along with retainers requested.
  • Notice when a client relationship is headed south and be proactive in talking to your lawyer about things you are noticing.

Your role in understanding and using technology

Here lies the greatest opportunity for paralegals to add value to a law firm. This can become your competitive advantage. I think it is a save bet to say that legal technology is the most talked and written about area in the legal industry. And it can also be the topic for a whole separate article. So for this article, I want to leave you with a list of resources you can use to increase your knowledge in this area and really make a difference.

The following list of websites and blogs is a nice place to start for learning about technology in the law firm:

Thanks for reading and learn more by following me on Twitter @PeggyGruenke andsign up to receive my newsletter.