Shuaib Ahmed, ASA Law Group
ASA Law Group is a worker’s compensation defense firm based in Oak Brook, Illinois. Shuaib Ahmed founded the firm in 2016 with the intention of using technology to make law firm operations more efficient, and creating the healthy work life balance that is so desperately needed in the legal profession. So far, he’s been incredibly successful—Shuaib grew his revenues from $80,000 to $1.2 million within his first year of operations.
Finding a balance with technology
For Shuaib Ahmed, helping lawyers achieve a better work-life balance isn’t a nice-to-have: It’s essential.
“I’ve had young attorneys come to me and say that they were thinking about leaving the practice of law because of the demands it places on one’s family,” he explains. “That is a terrible feeling to have after you’ve gone through law school. You’ve worked hard and potentially taken on a lot of debt, and then you come out and all of a sudden you have to choose between your career or having a family.”
After working as a partner at a large Chicago law firm for several years, Shuaib wanted a change. So he founded ASA Law Group in 2016 with the intention of using technology to make his operations more efficient, and to provide his staff with a better work-life balance.
Before opening his doors, Shuaib spent about a year trying out every practice management software option he could find, but he eventually found that Clio was a cut above the rest. He liked that it was easy to use, cloud-based, and offered LEDES billing. Initial setup was simple, and today, Shuaib says it only takes new lawyers at his firm a day or so to figure out.
What has that meant for his business? With the help of Clio, Shuaib has grown his revenue from $80,000 to $1.2 million within his first year of operations. His clients are happier, and his staff live more balanced, flexible lifestyles.
Increased mobility, decreased overhead
Technology allows ASA attorneys to be mobile and paperless, whether they’re working from home or heading to court.
“We’re the people showing up to court with nothing but a cellphone,” he says. “It’s funny because the judge will look at us and say. ‘That’s all you have?’ And we say, ‘That’s all we need judge.’”
No lawyer at ASA has ever run into an issue when taking only their cellphone to court, and many do so a few times per week. The only time they’ll take physical documents to court is when they need to submit them for evidence at a trial or hearing.
“Instead of taking a ton of documents with me to court and having a big old briefcase, I have my documents right there and ready,” Shuaib says. “If the judge asks to see a document, I can easily go into my Documents tab in Clio under the matter. It downloads it for me, and it’s right there.”
At previous firms, Shuaib used PerfectLaw’s AIM for practice management. It required a $300-per-person license for remote access, so law firms would be hesitant to allow their attorneys to work remotely. With Clio, working remotely is not a problem.
“Clio’s been a game changer for us because now my attorneys can work from home,” he says. “As long as my attorneys have internet, they can access it, which means I don’t need them to come to the office every day.”
Attorneys appreciate the flexibility, and the policy has also allowed Shuaib to save costs on office overhead. Since most lawyers only come into the office once or twice a week, ASA uses a shared workspace concept, meaning that it needs less square footage. “That’s been a significant savings for us,” he says. “Also, it encourages group collaboration and a team approach to cases which is what our clients’ deserve.”
Eliminating administrative back and forth
With Clio, lawyers and staff at ASA complete their daily tasks faster. There are several features that Shuaib can’t live without.
First up, he’s a fan of Clio’s LEDES billing functionality, which helps ensure his firm gets paid without any extra hassle.
“The invoicing is really easy, which is huge for us because we upload our invoices through the client’s software system,” he explains. “Invoices need to be created in a very specific way in order for the client’s billing review software to process our invoices, and if they’re not invoiced properly, our bills get rejected or denied.”
Lawyers and support staff at ASA also depend on Tasks in Clio to assign and track work. “The Task tab is huge. We use that a lot,” he says. “For example if they’ve asked me to send a subpoena out, they’ll create a task in that matter, and then email that task to their secretary. Once the task is completed, the secretary will notify the attorney by clicking the completed button.” This process is extremely valuable to Shuaib for two reasons: It creates a record of a given task being assigned and completed, and it eliminates unnecessary back and forth over email.
Finally, since many attorneys at ASA have the option to work remotely, the firm also uses Clio’s calendar to book meetings. Every attorney and every staff member has their own calendar that’s viewable by everybody else in the firm. Everyone is required to keep their calendar up to date, so anyone can easily find time for a meeting in someone else’s calendar.
“If I need to meet with somebody, and I look at their calendar and I see they’re unavailable during a certain time, I’ll just set up a meeting with them later,” Shuaib says. “This eliminates the back and forth of trying to create a meeting remotely.”
All of these tools help lawyers and staff at ASA complete administrative processes faster, allowing them to spend more time helping clients.
Greater profitability, less stress
With the help of Clio and other tech tools, Shuaib has built a profitable practice while providing better client service and creating a better working environment for his employees. It’s all been about using tech to reduce overhead.
“In a traditional firm, attorneys are required to bill about 2,100 hours every single year, and when you break that down that’s quite significant,” he said. “But, that’s really because of the cost of overhead. Because we’ve been able to use technology to mitigate all those costs, we’ve been able to substantially lower the billing requirements for our attorneys.”
“My attorneys are not so much worried about having to meet an obnoxiously high number, so they can focus on what clients really want us to do, and clients want us to essentially move cases forward very quickly,” he says. That’s led to greater client satisfaction, and to an increase in revenues from $80,000 to $1.2 million within one year.
“Once clients started seeing results, they couldn’t believe how quickly we were moving cases forward,” Shuaib says. “Now, people are starting to wonder why it takes other firms 24 to 36 months to get a case closed when our firm is doing it in four or five months.”
In short, Shuaib has created an environment where attorneys are less stressed and clients are more satisfied. For him, that’s one of the most rewarding parts of starting his own firm.
“It started out with an idea, and to actually see that idea grow into something that not only is awesome for clients, but also great for my attorneys and employees … it’s a really surreal feeling,” Shuaib says. “It’s really satisfying to look my clients in the eye and tell them ‘I have the same interests as you.’”