How a solo lawyer reimagined small town law with Clio
Number of Staff
Started Using Clio
Olds, Alberta, Canada
Wills and Estates
In 2021, Elevator Law’s founder, Dan McPherson, set out to create “the model rural Alberta practice in the 21st century.” The world was changing rapidly, and his previous experience working in a brick-and-mortar law office no longer reflected the distributed possibilities for the work—or clients’ expectations.
To achieve his goals, Dan needed practice management software that would deliver a seamless experience in a distributed environment.
“I felt that there were tools out there that could leverage technology better, to do routine tasks in a better way. I saw the challenges of having a distributed team without a central hub for information.”
After hearing about Clio from a Law Society of Alberta Practice Management Advisor, Dan picked up virtual passes to ClioCon —Clio’s annual legal conference—to see what the buzz was all about.
“I got passes to ClioCon just to check out what Clio was all about, and I was really taken by what someone said in the chat comments: ‘This is so much more than a practice management software.’ I recognized very quickly that Clio was going to be the system that we were going to go with.”
Read on to learn more about how Dan saves time as a solo practitioner by using Clio’s automation capabilities for everything from client intake to trust accounting.
1. A solo lawyer with a global network
Being a small-town lawyer doesn’t mean you have to rely on small-town resources. Dan quickly realized that, with Clio, he was getting more than practice management software. His experience at ClioCon was simply the beginning. By meeting countless colleagues from all over the world at ClioCon, Dan quickly realized that by using Clio, he was joining a global community.
“An important part of my narrative is being a lawyer in a small town in Alberta. You don’t have a ton of resources, and you have to get really creative with learning new things and staying innovative. Clio presented that to me on a platter to say, ‘you can have that cutting-edge technology.’ To have all of that as a solo lawyer is tremendous.”
2. Leveraging Clio Grow and Kanban to modernize the client intake process
Working for yourself is an extremely rewarding experience—but it also opens up its own set of challenges.
“When you decide to hang your own shingle, your biggest fear is that the phone is never going to ring. The phone rings for the first time, and you’re very excited, and you rush to find a piece of paper, and you write notes down. And then the phone rings again, and again, and pretty soon you realize that the phone ringing isn’t going to be the scary part—it’s about consolidating all that information and managing all that data.”
That’s why Dan loves Clio Grow’s client intake capabilities.
With Clio Grow, new Elevator Law clients can give Dan everything he needs to get to work on their files through shareable online intake forms. Streamlining information gathering not only keeps Elevator Law organized (no more rushing to find a piece of paper when the phone rings!) but also provides easy access to client information, making it easier to work with clients and foster a strong lawyer-client relationship.
“Clio Grow became my starting point because, obviously, the first step is to collect the data, get the emails, and get the names. Remember that the client called, set a task, whatever the first step will be.”
Dan has taken Clio Grow one step further by harnessing the power of Kanban, a popular workflow management method to visualize how many leads they have at each stage, along with the maximum number of leads they can handle at a given time. This helps Elevator Law provide excellent service to clients and avoid overcommitting to files.
“We can see at a glance that we’ve committed to a certain number of files in Grow. We’ve been really trying to flex what we can do, to the point where we’ve installed massive TVs in our offices. Our daily routine is to come in, look at Clio Grow, and look at our board to see the different tabs between intake and hired.”
3. Perfect precedents for solo practitioners
In practice areas like wills and estates law, getting the right information is critical. Dan knew this and recognized that taking down client information with pen and paper means mistakes can be made that often aren’t noticed until clients come to the office ready to sign their legal documents.
“I came from this world where a lawyer walks into the room with a pen and paper, writes the client’s name down wrong, then gives the pen and the paper to an assistant to type up a will, who also types the name wrong. And then you sit down at the appointment to sign the will, however many weeks later, at which point it’s realized that the names are spelled wrong, and all that work gets scrapped. It just seemed to me that there was a better way to do this.”
Dan describes Clio’s document management capabilities as “tremendous.” By gathering information seamlessly in Clio Grow, Dan can quickly sync it to Clio Manage, making it even easier to get started on his clients’ legal work without repetitive manual data entry or uploading tasks.
From there, Clio allows users to collect information through custom fields to auto-populate documents, taking the guesswork out of filling out precedents, saving time, and minimizing errors.
4. Saving time with automated payments and trust accounting
Dan was an early adopter of Clio Payments—after all, as a solo lawyer, he “didn’t want someone who has to chase payments down.” Beyond getting paid faster, however, Clio Payments has helped Elevator Law manage their trust accounts with ease—taking yet another time-consuming process off their plate.
“There are so many moving parts in any given day, let alone getting the facts or the law right. Having that payment integration—this is a trust payment, this is going to a trust account—takes out those clerical errors. It’s easy to be wrong in your payments approach, so having an easy platform from the beginning to take payment and put the funds into trust or receive payment is key. Clio Payments is huge for that.”
5. Creating access to justice, one will at a time
Dan is passionate about planning, and his vision for the future involves “making a dent in the statistics on the number of Albertans without estate planning documents” while providing an exceptional client experience for Albertans. By doing so, Dan hopes to serve as a model for other solo practitioners.
“This work is harder for bigger law firms to tackle. It’s an access to justice issue, to have access to good legal representation in these rural communities. I think that there is a new chapter where I can work with clients all over the province with tools like Clio and being hungry to make that change. I know that the work is out there, and I hope to lead by example in how we conduct ourselves as a firm and the creativity we bring.”
Dan takes pride in his decisions regarding who he surrounds his firm with, and Clio is no exception. Dan is proud to be working alongside a Canadian company that shares his values. He fondly notes, “It’s one of the coolest things to me that Clio’s CEO, Jack Newton, grew up down the road from me, which I didn’t know about until I emailed him!”
Amongst Dan’s ambitious plans for the future, he notes, “Clio is going to be right alongside us. We’re growing, Clio’s growing, and I know we are going to continue to grow together.”
“They say change is the only constant. It’s very comforting to know that the software platform that we’ve chosen is going to be there for us.”