Jodi Ann Donato, Founder, Donato Law
When Jodi Donato’s solo practice was hit by a pair of disasters within the same week, Clio enabled her to keep working and serving her clients without interruption. Using Clio’s full suite of legal software solutions—including Clio Grow, Clio Manage, and some of Clio’s helpful integration partners—Jodi was actually able to grow her practice significantly in spite of the hardships that struck her office.
From improved client intake and communications to more efficient billing, payment collections, document management, and more, Jodi trusts Clio as the backbone of her practice—in the office, at home, in court, and on the go. She even calls using Clio one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
Read the case study summary below, or scroll down to the Q&A section.
Out of the frying pan, into the fire … and flood
“The day after Christmas, 2017, my friend calls me with a picture of my building in flames,” recalls Jodi Ann Donato, founder and sole practitioner at Donato Law in East Islip, NY. “This happened on a Tuesday. Saturday night, my phone rang, the water main burst at the building, and the office I was using got the worst of it.
“My friends said that it sounded like a country song, you know? Fifty percent of what I saved from the fire, I lost in the flood.”
It was understandably a chaotic and difficult time for Jodi’s legal practice—yet, because she used Clio, Jodi was able to recover quickly from the disasters and continue helping her clients.
“A lot of the other attorneys in the building, they weren’t up and running the next day because they weren’t cloud-based businesses. The fact that I didn’t really miss a beat was huge, and Clio made that possible.”
Despite losing her office and well over 50% of her paper files from years of practicing, Jodi was able to relocate to a new office with nothing more than a folding table, a printer, and a laptop. “And,” she says, “I was able to continue working and taking in new clients without any downtime because of Clio.”
Rising from the ashes—and growing
“Just as the Phoenix rises out of the ashes, so did Donato Law,” Jodi says. Emerging from the pair of disasters, her law office didn’t just survive—it thrived.
Jodi credits much of her practice’s success in the years following the fire and the flood to Clio, and Clio Grow in particular.
“In 2019, I decided to add Clio Grow … and it’s amazing, when I looked back, my practice grew tremendously,” she says.
“I took in 21% more cases than I did in 2018. Between October 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019, my caseload almost doubled from the same period the year before; I attribute this to the implementation of Clio Grow in my practice.”
In addition to a larger caseload, Jodi says she’s seen an increase in her revenues—and clients are paying her faster and more effectively than ever before.
“Clio’s billing system allows me to send bills to clients with the click of a button and I have found that most people pay those bills within one week of receiving them. That never happened with paper billing,” she says.
“My accounts receivable is the lowest it has ever been in my 27 years of practice and I haven’t had to institute collections actions against any clients this year.”
The value of Clio Suite
Jodi uses a wide range of Clio’s core features—from Clio Grow’s client intake and client communication capabilities to Clio Manage’s billing, payments, document management, case management, email and calendar syncing, and more—plus many of Clio’s software integrations, such as Gmail, Dropbox, and Ruby.
“I could go on and on and give you more examples of how I use Clio Manage and Clio Grow to save me time and streamline my practice,” Jodi says.
For Donato Law, Clio is one of the key reasons the practice is able to run so smoothly without having multiple staff members on board.
“I think Clio has absolutely allowed me to operate for years without an assistant,” Jodi says. “It’s just been phenomenal for me as a sole practitioner to have this cloud-based software that syncs and integrates with so many other programs that literally I can run my business from anywhere.”
“Using Clio was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
What benefits does Clio provide to solo attorneys?
“As a solo practitioner, Clio has been instrumental in my growth; and the addition of Clio Grow has helped me tremendously. It allows me to keep track of my leads and ensures that I follow up on those leads.
I think Clio has absolutely allowed me to operate for years without an assistant, and definitely Clio has enabled me to do that. Like I said, being able to work from anywhere is huge, and it has streamlined everything. Once the process is streamlined, you’re taking up less time doing minor work.
Using Clio was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
How did Clio help you grow your firm’s case load and improve your collections?
“In 2019, my practice grew tremendously. I took in 21% more cases than I did in 2018. Between October 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019, my case load almost doubled from the same period the year before; I attribute this to the implementation of Clio Grow in my practice. Along with an increase in my caseload has been an increase in my revenues; but, more importantly, I am getting paid by clients. Clio’s billing system allows me to send bills to clients with the click of a button and I have found that most people pay those bills within one week of receiving them. That never happened with paper billing.
My accounts receivable is the lowest it has ever been in my 27 years of practice and I haven’t had to institute collections actions against any clients this year.”
How has the Clio Suite—and particularly Clio Grow—helped fuel your firm’s growth?
“In 2019, I decided to add Clio Grow … and it’s amazing, when I looked back, my practice grew tremendously. I took in 21% more cases than I did in 2018, and between October 31, 2019—when I signed up for Clio Grow—until December 31, 2019, my caseload almost doubled from the year before.
In addition, Clio Grow has cut down on the amount of time I spend with a potential new client during a consultation. I e-mail an intake and statement of client’s rights when I schedule a consultation. I am then able to review the information with them during the consultation and with the click of a few buttons have them sign a retainer while they are sitting in my office. When I have a potential client who lives out of state, I am able to do a telephone consultation with them and then email them the retainer and a link for payment. In the past I would email the documents, the client would have to print and sign and then mail back the signed documents with payment. I am now able to open a new file in Clio Manage with the click of a button—no longer does the intake and retainer sit on my desk until I have time to enter the information. Again, a tremendous time-saver for a solo practitioner.
I could go on and on and give you more examples of how I use Clio Manage and Clio Grow to save me time and streamline my practice.
So it’s just been phenomenal for me as a sole practitioner to have this cloud-based software that syncs and integrates with so many other programs that literally I can run my business from anywhere.”
What are some of the ways Clio Manage and the Clio Mobile App have helped your firm?
“Clio Manage is great for opening and closing files, being able to check for conflicts, and being able to search quickly. Having my Contacts sync with my Gmail and my Google Contacts … I always have a person’s information at hand.
I’m able to have all the information in one location, including the documents, because I have everything scanned into the system. So all my documents are in the cloud. I have Clio synced with Dropbox, Ruby, and other integrations. All of them together really enable me to work from anywhere.
The Clio Mobile App (within Clio Manage) is great because I’m able to look up a client’s phone number in five seconds using the mobile app.
If you’re billing by the hour, the Billing and Time-Tracking features are very helpful for being able to track your time.
Your documents and communications being in Clio Suite is helpful, because you can look back quickly, see what you prepared, and assign a time billing for it.
So, if I’m stuck in court for the day, I can answer questions, I can send emails, I can look at documents. If I’m in the middle of a court conference, I can pull out my iPad … It’s a lot better than carrying around a thick case file!”
What are some of Clio's app integrations that you use?
“The integration of Ruby with Clio Manage and Clio Grow has been tremendous for me, both in terms of billing clients and capturing new clients. With Clio Grow and Ruby, I no longer have to read through e-mails, contact potential clients and then open a note page in Clio Manage. I am able to go directly into Clio Manage, download the leads into the pipeline, contact the clients, take notes, schedule appointments, and send forms and documents.
Ruby answers my phone … and now, instead of reading the Ruby email, I can just open up Clio Grow. I can see who’s a new lead, open it up, and make contact with them as soon as possible.
I’ve also recently added the Kenect integration, and I love it because texts with clients go into the communication field in Clio, and I can bill right from there—whereas before, when people were texting my phone, I would say 90% of the time I didn’t bill them for the text messages. It was just too much of a pain in the neck to look at my phone and see who I was texting with, how many times we texted, and what the dates were.”
How does Clio Grow enhance the way your firm communicates with potential and existing clients?
“I knew about the importance of tracking your leads and following up and things like that—nut knowing it and putting it into practice is not always easy.
Clio Grow has forced me to follow up. So, if I have a conversation with a potential client and they’re supposed to get back to me with more information before we set an appointment, I now track that.
I have everything broken out into numerous categories. So, if someone doesn’t get back to me within a week, I will follow up with them and say, ‘Hey, how’s everything going? You were supposed to get back to me … I haven’t heard from you.’
Or, if I send someone an estate planning intake, now it’s easier for me to follow up: I automatically send them an email and I say, ‘Hi, how you doing, we spoke a little while ago and I sent you the intake—I was wondering how it’s going, or if you have any questions for me.’ Things like that.
So, Clio Grow helps me stay on top of and not lose certain opportunities.”
How has Clio helped improve your billing and payment collections?
“The billing is huge, being able to bill quickly and efficiently. As a family law attorney, I bill by the hour, so I need to get bills out on time so I can get paid—and I have to say that Clio’s sharing of bills has made getting paid 100% better.
I sent bills out the other day, and I’m still shocked when I have three clients pay me on the same day that they got the bill. I don’t have to print a bill and mail it anymore, I can just email it right to the client.
Within the past year, Clio added the outstanding bills feature, where now you can just click to send a reminder to people who owe you money. The outstanding bills feature has enabled me to follow up with people who haven’t paid their bill right away. And I find that it does help me get paid.
I like that it shows me the last time I followed up with someone about a bill, so I don’t have to remember, ‘Oh, did I send this to that person or not?’ I can look at the screen and it says ‘sent five days ago.’ So I know to give it a little more time before following up again.
I also use Clio’s LawPay integration, Clio Payments, because it lets me send my clients a link for them to make payments—and that is huge. My collections have calmed down tremendously. In the past year, I have not had to pursue a collection against anyone.”