Catherine Merino Reisman, Reisman Carolla Gran LLP
Catherine Merino Reisman is Clio’s very first customer. Together with Amy Carolla, she founded Reisman Carolla Gran 10 years ago with a goal to better serve the families of people with disabilities and people with disabilities themselves. Over the past decade, Catherine’s practice has grown and changed, and she’s continued to serve her customers better and better with the help of Clio.
Looking for a cloud-based solution
Like many lawyers, Catherine Merino Reisman went to law school because she wanted to build a practice where she could make a difference in people’s lives. On that front, she’s succeeded, focusing mainly on special education law. The most rewarding part of her job is making a positive difference in her clients’ lives.
“I once worked with a client to get services for her son who had apraxia of speech, which makes it very difficult to speak because of motor planning issues,” Catherine said. “With intensive intervention, children with apraxia can learn to speak. We got him the services he needed, and later his mother shared with me a tape of him singing a song.”
Catherine founded her practice with Amy Carolla 10 years ago with a goal of providing better service to the families of people with disabilities and people with disabilities themselves. Previously, both women worked at a larger law firm in Philadelphia, and both felt that at a smaller firm they could reduce their overhead and keep rates more affordable.
Technology has been a big part of what’s helped them succeed—Catherine started looking for a practice management system when she founded the firm and from the beginning, she knew that she wanted a cloud-based solution.
“I really wanted something that was cloud-based because I wanted a secure place to store my practice’s information,” she explained, “and it’s just a lot easier to have a cloud-based service where they keep everything secure. I didn’t want to have to go out and hire an IT person to build a server and safeguard it from the world.”
In addition to better security, Catherine wanted a cloud-based system because she used a Mac, and at the time, most practice management software was PC-based, making it difficult to find software that worked for her. “[With the cloud] it doesn’t matter what kind of computer you have,” she said.
Catherine heard about Clio in a blog post from Bob Ambrogi and from a friend who attended ABA TECHSHOW in 2008. The idea of being a beta tester for the software intrigued her, and the rest is history.
“It just felt like the future,” Catherine said. “I feel like in some ways, people are scared of the cloud, but I think it’s safer than not working with the cloud. I’m not going to have the money to implement the kind of security measures that a company like Clio can.”
Using technology for effective communication
Within its first year, Reisman Carolla Gran had served roughly 50 clients. 10 years later, it has served nearly 1,200 clients. “Clio has supported [our growth] by constantly innovating to give us new ways to better communicate with and serve our clients,” Catherine said.
For example, Catherine likes that Clio lets her easily email invoices to clients. She also loves that Clio integrates with a variety of apps and services to help her communicate with clients in the way that works best for her. Specifically, she uses Zipwhip to text her clients and keep all messages logged in Clio.
My clients want to communicate by text. It’s so much more convenient, especially because my clients are parents who have jobs during the day. If they want to send me a quick question, they might not want to be logging on to their personal email seventeen times a day to check it and see if I’ve answered.
[Texting is] not something that I generally want to do because unlike an email, it’s difficult to look back and see what happened. But with Zipwhip and Clio, it’s easy. There was a crisis going on this morning, so I’ve been non-stop texting with one of my clients, and it’s all saved right into Clio in the communications tab because of this integration.
Simpler billing, easier payments
When Catherine looks back at her experiences billing clients before she started using Clio, it’s easy to see that things are much more efficient now.
“It’s really fast. We can get all the bills out in less than a day,” she said. “I remember how billing was when I was at a big law firm. You had paper bills, and if you had to make changes, you sent them some place—I don’t know where—and they put the changes in. Now, all of our billing is done through Clio, and it’s so much better.”
Once Catherine’s bookkeeper generates all the firm’s bills in Clio, it’s fast and easy to make changes, whether Catherine and her partners make edits themselves or whether they ask for help from the bookkeeper. When it’s all done, the bookkeeper emails out all the firm’s bills to clients, right from within Clio.
Reisman Carolla Gran uses Clio Payments, powered by LawPay, so once clients open an email containing their invoice, they can simply click on a button in the email to pay their invoice via credit card.
“That’s another thing that’s really important: Making it as easy as possible to pay the bill,” Catherine said. “[Clio Payments] is really important to my practice. We use it all the time. Every month, people pay their bills that way.”
Finally, Catherine is a big fan of the reporting functionality that comes with Clio, especially when it comes to billing and payments. The firm runs a number of reports every month to keep track of the its finances, but she also loves that she can drill down into specific matters at a glance if needed. Catherine explains:
For example, I’ve just clicked on a Matter [within Clio]. I can see the bills that have gone out and how much we’ve billed for, but sometimes we discount the bills. So if I just wanted to see how much we billed—i.e., how much cost has been incurred without discounts—I can just click on the Activities tab and that just gives me the total.
We run different reports every month to keep track of where things are. We have some cases that we take on a contingency basis, so we have to keep track of how much of our projected income is contingency to make sure there’s enough coming in between now and the end of the quarter to cover our expenses. We would never have a problem with that, but [Clio] gives us an idea of what to expect in the medium term.
Overall, Catherine appreciates that she can easily get insights into how her law firm is tracking against its goals, allowing her to make informed decisions for her practice.
Being a part of the future of legal technology
When Catherine tells people that she started using Clio during the very early days of the company, they’re sometimes a bit incredulous. “I talk to people now, and they say ‘you mean you just hooked your whole practice on these two guys!?’ and I say ‘yes, I guess that’s what happened,’” she says.
Looking back, Catherine wasn’t worried at all about putting her practice in the hands of Clio’s Co-founders, Jack Newton and Rian Gauvreau. “They were so responsive when I called up with any problem that I had,” she explained. “I think if there had been any problems, I might have been skittish and jumped, but there were none. They were beyond responsive. They just made sure that it worked from the beginning.”
Just as Clio has been a key part of Catherine’s practice, Catherine has been invaluable to Clio’s journey. She’s never been shy about calling Jack and Rian—or Clio’s support team—and she’s been a key driver in making Clio the product it is today.
“I feel like I helped to build [Clio],” she said, “in the sense that if I had an idea, or if something wasn’t working, I would tell them what it was that I wanted to be different. And if they could do it, they did it.”
Every day, Catherine strives to serve her clients better, and she sees Clio’s mission in much the same way. Together, she believes we’ll continue to transform the practice of law, for good.
“It’s just constant. Clio is always thinking ‘let’s make it better,’ which is what I’m always trying to do at the firm too. I always think ‘let’s make it easier for our clients. Let’s make it easier for them to get information and to give us information. That’s the change I’ve been seeing—change in technology and the way people use technology.”