After a 20-year career as an executive in the financial services sector, Stratford Kiger of Charlotte, North Carolina decided to switch paths and go into law. When she began her practice in 2010, she combined her law degree with her experience in money management to start her own law firm. Naturally, her firm is focused on estate planning, among other services. And just as naturally, Stratford has set up her firm with a deep understanding of the value of customer service, technology, and performance metrics.
Today, Kiger Law employs a team of four lawyers, two paralegals, and a law clerk serving clients in both North Carolina and South Carolina. She turned to Clio because it afforded her firm many of the features and functions that other practice management solutions couldn’t match—flexibility, visibility, and client management.
Stratford’s firm practices in the areas of estate planning, guardianship, special needs, elder law, and other niche services. About half of the firm’s clients are families with elders or members with special needs; the other half is composed of those seeking estate planning or advice on administrative matters. Family is important to the firm, and not just because most of their clients are families.
“Many of the members of our firm are responsible for young children, older parents, or sometimes both,” says Stratford. “That’s why many of them came from larger firms or other careers to work in a small firm like ours. They have family needs, and that means they require greater flexibility in how they work and practice. Clio gives us that.”
Using a web-based practice management tool like Clio means that lawyers at Kiger Law can attend to both firm and family business as best suits their demanding schedules. It also means they can meet the needs of their clients, many of whom only have time to talk to a lawyer in the evening or on weekends. Clio’s portability allows them to practice when needed, where needed. And that flexibility equates to greater satisfaction and productivity within the firm.
As a former finance executive, Stratford Kiger knows and values numbers. That’s why she extols the analytics and metrics she gets out of Clio. Using the time-tracking and financial features, Clio enables her to measure the performance of her firm and its individual members. She is able to look at which areas of practice are most profitable and build the practice around those areas. Just as importantly, it has also opened her eyes to which areas are not up to snuff. With this insight in hand, the firm has actually backed away from some practice areas that simply didn’t measure up.
“It is so easy to get the data out of Clio and run any type of audit report,” Stratford adds. “Clio facilitates my ability to do that. Pulling data together in the past was hard. Now everything can be measured and properly assessed.”
Using these metrics, members of the firm can set benchmarks and goals for billing, and accurately capture time and expenses for clients. And because the firm is focused on being fully transparent with clients, all time is captured, bills are accurate, and any adjustments or discounts can be made with ease using Clio. Client really appreciate that because they can see what is going on, know who did what, view which expenses were incurred, and understand what each charge means. In fact, less than 1% of the firm’s clients challenge their bills because they always know and can always see what is going on. Everything is clear and there are few unanswered questions.
Of course, a law firm cannot function without clients, and for Kiger Law, using Clio is of tremendous value in managing those vital relationships. The firm uses it almost as a CRM system to keep track of dealings with clients as well as with vendors and other attorneys.
Managing a practice focused on family and estate matters, with clients in two separate states, also requires organization and mobility. Clio provides just that. Its cloud-based solution means that lawyers can serve clients from anywhere, manage documents, time, and bills with ease, and provide the kind of service that suits the client’s specific needs. Everyone in Stratford’s firm uses Clio, and everyone benefits from it.
“I’ve known of some fellow lawyers who don’t share their practice tools with everyone in the firm, and I see that as a miss on their part,” she adds.
The Case for Clio
For Stratford, the biggest challenge in managing a law firm is trying to be flexible to the needs of the people associated with the firm (employees and clients, alike) and keeping the firm’s information and practice secure, ethical, and compliant. Clio helps them strike an ideal balance. With built-in mobility and bank-grade security, the firm’s law practice flexibility with a reassurance that they are meeting every demand and challenge they face—in both their professional and personal duties.
“The flexibility of the system allows each user to use it in the most effective manner to them,” Stratford concludes. And for this former finance-expert-turned-attorney, when it comes to the fine act of balancing legal matters, financial performance, and client expectations, Clio is a sound investment in efficiency, effectiveness, and firm success.