Law Firm Best Practices, with Gabriel Cheong

Gabriel Cheong is truly an entrepreneurial lawyer. In fact, he started his own law firm straight out of law school, and within a few years, was so successful he was able to buy out the law firm he previously interned at.

Today, the Infinity Law Group of Quincy, Massachusetts employs two lawyers practicing family law. They focus primarily on divorce, custody, and paternity cases, as well as prenuptial agreements and estate planning. Most of Gabriel’s clients are middle- to upper-middle class, and range in age from 25 to 50. That means they are generally quite tech-savvy and as sensitive to the final cost of legal services as they are to the final outcome of the case.

Fortunately for his clients, Gabriel is also heavily invested in legal practice management and Clio is central to keeping his practice organized, lean, and on top of every matter. These are Gabriel’s law firm best practices.

Practice Management

Gabriel is an active evangelist of practice management solutions. He currently serves as a council member of the Law Practice Management section of the Massachusetts Bar Association and is also Vice President of Starting Out Solo, a group devoted to helping lawyers who start a private practice after law school succeed. He’s also a contributor to Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog and spoke at their annual conference this year.

But getting there took some time. Gabriel previously managed his practice with spreadsheets but as the firm grew, this became unweilding. Other methods also proved to be less than adequate. He started to look for a lawyer-specific system, and following a discussion and a walk through with a peer who uses Clio, he was convinced and quickly signed up. It was the right solution and he’s been happy ever since.

“The biggest challenge in owning a firm is balancing the practice of law with the business side,” says Gabriel. “That means getting new clients, managing the books, and managing associates so work gets done and everyone is on the same page. Clio makes that easy.”

He also know that it can be very daunting and expensive to start out on your own in a law practice. Technology tools like Clio have made that easier and more affordable; everything you need is just a subscription away with no need for expensive infrastructure. A cell phone, a laptop, and Clio are all you need to make it work.

Operational Optimization

Gabriel operates his firm on a flat-fee basis. Yet, he still values Clio’s time tracking abilities. This is especially valuable for measuring the firm’s performance and making sure that the firm is as productive as possible.

It also helps protect him on any challenges. The Bar still measures the hours spent on a case as the standard for assessing the value of legal work billed to a client. Knowing exactly how much time spent on each case means that Gabriel can produce accurate records if so called upon to do so.

Clio has also helped Gabriel in managing a paperless practice. Indeed, there is paperwork involved in many of his matters, but he scans them into Clio, assigns them to the correct client and matter, and then promptly shreds the documents. This cuts down on storage costs. In seven years of practice, he’s only held on to enough paper to fill one drawer in a filing cabinet. But nothing is missing, because they are all easily retrievable and safely stored in the cloud through Clio.

Tracking Judgments

Many lawyers use Clio to keep track of clients, co-counsel, and anyone else associated with a matter. Certainly, Gabriel does that as well, but he also uses it to do something extra; he keeps track of the judges he’s appeared before and take notes on the judgments. This function lets him know what rulings have come down, the nuances of each judge, and any specifics or particulars that are beneficial to his clients getting what they want. He can easily log into Clio and in a moment, get an understanding of what to expect and how to strategize for a favorable outcome.

The Case for Clio

Naturally, Gabriel loves Clio’s accessibility and adaptability. Whether on his phone, his tablet, or his laptop, Gabriel can manage his firm from any device at any time. He’s also customized it to create checklists on each matter so he and his associates know what has been done and what is getting done from file opening to closing.

“I like the ease of use and intuitive nature of Clio,” Gabriel concludes. “It didn’t take a lot of time to learn how to use it and it makes it easier for attorneys to do what they need to do.”

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