How King Law’s General Manager Streamlines Operations with Clio
Number of Staff
Started Using Clio
North Carolina, USA
Wills and Estates
Successfully managing a mid-sized law firm’s operations means wearing a lot of hats, but—as King Law’s General Manager Kimberly Mullinax has learned—it doesn’t have to mean juggling a lot of programs and software.
Since her firm implemented Clio’s practice management software, Kimberly has been able to focus more on working with the team, growing the business, and providing better client service. She’s also had to spend far less time chasing down data and documents in multiple places.
From difficult old software to an easier, better system
Kimberly has been part of the King Law team since the firm opened in 2002, so she witnessed the evolution of the firm’s operations firsthand as it grew to become a 60-person practice across North and South Carolina. Looking back, Kimberly recalls exactly how frustrating and time-consuming it was to work from an old, server-based system—before King Law switched to Clio.
“In our previous software, I was not in the office, if I was not hardwired in, I couldn’t see the client file. I couldn’t find my leases. I couldn’t find contact information a lot of the time,” Kimberly says. “I couldn’t see my calendar from my phone, because there was no app at that point. It was truly a struggle to operate unless you were sitting directly in front of a computer.”
Managing the firm’s 18 offices, spread across two states, made things even harder.
“It was very difficult,” Kimberly says. “You left home really early. You tried to be where you needed to be early so you had time to plug in, connect, open all your programs, and find what you needed.”
As soon as the firm implemented Clio, however, Kimberly’s job—and King Law’s operations as a whole—became easier and more efficient.
“With Clio, we can get everything from a tablet, from our cell phone, or essentially anywhere that there’s an internet connection. I don’t have to worry if the King Law server is down.”
Thanks to Clio, the entire office’s operations are streamlined, and time lost to manual data entry is shrinking. One example: The firm’s accounting department used to need a full day or more to complete its weekly billing. Now, that time has been reduced to four hours or less.
Putting everything the firm does in one central place
“Clio streamlines our office,” Kimberly says. “It’s the piece of the puzzle that helps us to fit together. Everybody uses Clio in a different way, but Clio is the central component that connects all of our locations and all of our employees.”
Clio’s central, cloud-based system is invaluable for helping Kimberly work with multiple departments at the firm and at multiple firm locations—and it’s the only program that she uses on a day-to-day basis.
“As general manager, there are a lot of things that I oversee—from human resources to facilities to marketing technology—and in order to keep organized, be efficient, and be where I need to be, I have to use Clio,” Kimberly says. “Everything that I do is in Clio.”
From Kimberly’s calendar tasks to client documents, contacts within and outside the firm, marketing agreements, and any other important files, Clio is her go-to resource for everything she needs each day. This is true for all of the firm’s support staff, she says, whether they work on the client intake side or the case management side of the business.
“Clio has improved the efficiency of all of our staff, and it has also allowed us to provide a clear picture to all clients with transparent billing. It allows them to know what work has been performed on a weekly basis,” she explains.
Finding the right fit—and making the switch
Looking back to the time before King Law adopted Clio, Kimberly’s main thought is that she wishes they had made the switch sooner. “Knowing now what I didn’t know, then, I wish we would have done it before,” she says. “Because Clio has been a game-changer for our firm.”
Once King Law’s partners decided to make a software change in order to continue to grow the firm, it took more than a year of research, evaluation, and listening to others in the industry to find the right fit.
“One thing that King Law really liked about Clio was it was a one-stop shop. We were previously using multiple programs and they all ran independently of each other,” Kimberly recalls.
During this research phase, the firm’s partners attended the Clio Cloud Conference, read Clio’s annual Legal Trends Report, talked to Clio Certified Consultants and lawyers at other firms about the software, and ultimately decided they were ready to make the move.
While transitioning to Clio meant the firm had to adapt to change—from learning new software to migrating the firm’s data—Kimberly says: “Absolutely, it was worth it!”
In addition to enhancing the firm’s overall efficiency, Kimberly says that turning to Clio has enabled the firm to grow in a major way. “Our attorney staff has doubled since going to Clio, and our revenue has increased,” she says.
With this in mind, Kimberly’s advice to other law firm managers and administrators that are considering legal software is to follow King Law’s lead: Take your time, do your research, and be prepared for change. The goal, she says, should be to make an educated choice for your firm—because finding the right legal software can change everything.
“Clio has made our lives much, much better here at King Law, as far as our staff and attorneys,” Kimberly says. “Again, it’s cloud-based, it completely turned our world upside down—for the good. From where we came from to where we are now, it’s two different worlds. We do everything almost in a different way … it’s a win-win for everybody.”
What was life like before Clio, and what is it like now?
“I started working for King Law in September of 2002, just a few weeks after Brian started the firm. I’ve been there through every transition, essentially, that the firm has had—from writing things on a calendar paper at the front desk to the most recent system we had prior to Clio. None of those other programs were cloud-based for us. We were going into two and three different systems to find calendar events and what had been done, and we were going into a separate system for billing purposes. Then, we were going into a different system to actually find the client’s file. And we have been a paperless firm since 2006—so the technology components were there, but it just was not a seamless system.
Before Clio, if I was not in the office, if I was not hardwired in, I couldn’t see the client file. I couldn’t find my leases. I couldn’t find contact information a lot of the time. I couldn’t see my calendar from my phone, because there was no app at that point. It was truly a struggle to operate unless you were sitting directly in front of a computer.
It also used to be very difficult working across multiple office locations before. You left home really early. You tried to be where you needed to be early so you had time to plug in, connect, open all your programs, and find what you needed. A lot of times, even though we were paperless, we were printing documents and preparing folders and notebooks and different things to take with us. It was very time-consuming. We had a lot of paper, and it was like, ‘What do we do with this now?’
We don’t have to do any of that anymore, because we can get everything from a tablet, from our cell phone, or essentially anywhere that there’s an internet connection. I don’t have to worry if the King Law server is down, or if there is a problem with this program and I can’t get to this document or if I can get to this other one. Those were all frequent problems we had.
With Clio I can take my laptop and I can go work from anywhere. During COVID, if I’m sick, you know, anything that may be going on, I can work from home if needed. With our system before, we simply did not have that capability.
Now, I utilize the Clio Mobile App on a daily basis. If I’m on the road, if I’m maybe in the office and have something coming up pretty quick, if I’ve got my cell phone, I can go on and record my time. I can update my calendar. I can communicate with clients or third-party vendors or whoever it may be. I can do that all from a cell phone, with 18 locations.”
What are some of the tangible benefits of switching to Clio?
“We have probably doubled our attorney staff since going over to Clio. It’s definitely much easier to train them and folks are up to speed quicker, and therefore they’re billing much quicker. The revenue comes in much more quickly, and billing is more efficient by being able to do the trust pulls automatically when billing is created—that allows us to get that money into our operating account the same day. It also allows the attorneys and case managers to see: Are they going to get paid for these services? Do we need to be having a difficult conversation with the client about fees if it’s an hourly billing situation? So those things definitely have improved over time. Our attorney staff has doubled since going to Clio, and our revenue has increased here.
Also, we do weekly billing here at King Law, and our accounting department would sometimes spend a full day or even more doing weekly billing. With Clio, we are able to see the client balance, we’re able to see the money in the trust account. We do our billing directly in Clio, apply the trust, money is transferred, and it syncs over to QuickBooks. We have now gotten our weekly billing down to about four hours.
Using Clio and QuickBooks together has strengthened our relationship with our CPA. It has reduced the amount of time that our accounting department spends on weekly billing. It has helped us to focus more on collections of any accounts receivable balances. It has allowed us to identify clients who may be in a financial situation where they’re not going to be able to pay their bill. It’s allowed us to recognize that (customers might need help with payments) early on and work out payment arrangements or set up payment plans—whereas before we weren’t doing that before. And it’s saving a lot of manual data entry that our accounting department was doing before.”
How does Clio help your firm operate more effectively?
“Clio streamlines our office. It’s the piece of the puzzle that helps us to fit together. Everybody uses Clio in a different way, but Clio is the central component that connects all of our locations and all of our employees.
That’s done through the basic features of Clio. We are able to bill consistently on a weekly basis, we’re able to collect, and we’ve seen increased revenue. It has improved the efficiency of all of our staff, and it has also allowed us to provide a clear picture to all clients with transparent billing. It allows them to know what work has been performed on a weekly basis. It allows them to see in real time what their money has been spent on, if they were an hourly billing client. It has allowed us to share documents immediately with clients, whereas before maybe it went into email, or maybe it had to be mailed to them through the postal service. It allows them to continually have access through Clio Connect. All of those components together have really helped us to provide a better service to our clients.
Clio has made our lives much, much better here at King Law, as far as our staff and attorneys. Again, it’s cloud-based, it completely turned our world upside down—but for the good. From where we came from to where we are now, it’s two different worlds. We do everything almost in a different way. Again, it’s change, and change is hard—but once everybody gets familiar with the system and knows how it works, it’s a win-win for everybody.
During COVID, we were able to begin using video conferencing, something that we had never really used before with our firm. It allowed us to also meet together as a team, and I know Clio now has the opportunity to link the Zoom accounts and those types of things, but COVID allowed us to realize that, yes, we may have 18 offices, but we can still provide legal services without meeting people face-to-face. So that really did change a lot of how we operate.
There’s one particular case that we provide services for where I’ve got four different attorneys working on it from four different locations, but with Clio, I don’t have to see that client face-to-face, there are four attorneys who don’t have to see each other on a regular basis face-to-face, and they’re all able to contribute to the case.”
Was it worth the investment to make the switch to Clio?
“Absolutely, it was worth it! Anytime you make a change, there are going to be some hard decisions that have to be made. But in the end, once we got through the trenches and the technical things, migrating the data over, we brought over 40,000 client matters and contact information. We had to reconcile it with the accounting system and then bring over client balances to Clio. We had to convert client files that were saved electronically and bring those over and save those into open matters in Clio, that all takes time. It’s very technical, but once it was done, it was fantastic.
I’m able to open Clio, search for a client matter, and I’ve got all the accounting information so I’m not calling my accounting department to ask about the payment history for this client. What’s their AR balance? Do they have money in trust? I’m not calling somebody to say, ‘I can’t get to my documents—do we have this on paper anywhere?’ So to be able to see all that in one place was fantastic … Knowing now what I didn’t know then, I wish we would have done it before, because it has been a game-changer for our firm.”
As the firm’s General Manager, how does Clio help you day-to-day?
“As general manager, there are a lot of things that I oversee—from human resources, to facilities, to marketing technology—and in order to keep organized, be efficient, and be where I need to be, I have to use Clio. Everything that I do is in Clio.
From calendar tasks to what I have done with activities and all of my documents from personnel files to signed leases, to who to contact if there’s an emergency, to marketing agreements, anything along those lines, all of those documents are saved in Clio. Clio is the only program that I typically use on a day-to-day basis here at the firm.
For me personally, I use the features within Clio every day. I’m using the calendar, I’m using the documents, I’m using activities. Even though I am in a non-billable position, we ask our staff to track everything they do that is work related. That allows us to see, number one, what’s happening within all of our offices. It helps us to document the progress on client cases, and it also helps us in the decision-making process when we want to scale the business.
Our motto here at King Law is, ‘If it’s not in Clio, it didn’t happen.’ There are so many different things within Clio that allow you to keep track of what you do. From the time, to the calendar, the client files, the documents—if work is being done for a client or even for administrative type matters—there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be in Clio, because there’s a place for it. That’s the way we treat it.
If it weren’t for Clio, I wouldn’t know where I needed to be, or what I needed to do. And it also allows for a lot of transparency. I’m not always in one location. King Law is unique. We are spread out across western North Carolina and the upstate of South Carolina. It is not uncommon for me to be in one location in the morning and another location in the afternoon, state to state. So Clio allows for folks to see where I am, what I’m doing, how long I plan on being there. They can send secure messages, they can scan documents and alert me that they’re there, and I’m able to use the Clio Mobile App. So there are a lot of different features that are useful for me, and also allow transparency for folks who may be in one office or the other to communicate with me, or know, without even speaking to me, where I’m at or what I’m doing.”
How did the firm research new software, choose Clio, and make the transition?
“The overall theme was the partners saying, ‘It’s time to make a change so that we can continue to grow this firm.’
So they began researching, and several of them went to the Clio Cloud Conferences for a year or two, just to figure out what this program is about. They were hearing great things. They were listening to podcasts. They were talking to other firms. They were part of a mastermind group with larger firms and smaller firms. Clio was a topic that just kept coming up and they were curious. It took a while and we did lots of conversations and invested lots of time to make sure it was a good fit. But once they were on board, it went pretty quickly after that. At King Law, like I’m sure a lot of firms, we were always trying to be on the technology forefront, and Clio was the best well-rounded option for us at the time.
With the problems we were having with the server and the previous software—whether our work was not immediately available to us, or maybe the server had an issue, or, ‘Oh, it needs to be updated, this is going to cost you $5,000,’—with the cost savings and the time efficiency, it was time to make a change, and Clio was the best fit when it came time to make that change.
The transition was pretty seamless. Even in our prior software, they were tracking their time and their activities, but the process was a little bit different. So the hardest part with going over to Clio was just learning the software itself, but all of our staff within a day or two of using it all felt very comfortable with how to utilize it and they loved the layout. It was very user-friendly.
We researched for probably a year or more before we made the decision to actually pull the trigger and decide we’re going with Clio. And then we took a whole quarter to talk about implementation and the migration of the data and what that was going to look like for our team. Then we created in-house teams … We had an accounting team, we had a management team, and we had a technology team—and each of those teams met together to prepare as well as all the groups together.
Communication was key during the transition process. Again, we had lots of questions. Clio was very helpful in answering those questions and at one point we even said, ‘Do you have someone that can consult with us or talk us through some of these processes?’ Clio was able to make some recommendations for folks for us to talk to that had experienced what we were about to be going through.
Everyone was honest, and there was support available basically around the clock if we needed it. There was also a Clio consultant in our area who was able to come on-site during the process, which was very helpful, and also a local attorney to western North Carolina. So she was even able to help us identify things that maybe we hadn’t thought about.
There were numerous calls with people at Clio, saying, ‘Okay, here are the things you need to be thinking about. How do you want to address them?’ We were meeting again sometimes two or three times a week in teams here at King Law to address those issues, and once we were ready to move forward with that launch date, things moved pretty quickly.
As with any change, there probably were some hiccups along the way, but it was nothing that set us back. The folks at Clio were very helpful, and if whoever we were speaking with wasn’t exactly sure or it was something that they needed to bring someone else in, they never hesitated to do that. They were very good in pointing us in the direction and helping us think about things we maybe hadn’t considered.”
How does Clio help your firm’s support staff be successful?
“So for support staff, we want to break that up into two separate groups. We have an intake team, and then we have a team of case managers.
With our intake team, our intake schedules for all 27 attorneys and all 18 locations, we’re able to see each other’s calendars. So if I’ve got a client calling—whether it’s a new client or a prospective client or an existing client—it helps me identify where the attorney is, where their case manager is, and who is going to be the first person that can handle this call. Because our goal here at King Law is to give same-day service and reply to everything on the same day or within 24 business hours. So having that calendar transparency in our staff, keeping their calendars updated, allows us to better serve our clients.
Our intake team, again, is using Clio for scheduling or checking conflict of interest, and processing payments. They’re setting up the matter, they’re doing time entries, documenting when the call came in and what information was shared with them, and they’re adding that as a note to the Clio matter.
So in the line of work that we’re doing here, a lot of what we practice is family law. It is not uncommon that you’ll get a temporary order and then go back to a permanent order later. Those documents, especially when it comes to child custody or support, are documents that clients tend to go back and look at for years to come, until their children are 18. You need that legend and you’ll need those documents for school and daycare and other events and sporting activities that your children play. If we share those through Clio Connect, the client always has those, so they’re not panicking the night before the child starts school. They can log into their Clio Connect account and they can see that, if we shared a temporary order and now we have a permanent order, we can update those documents and they are always at their fingertips. We’re not having to mail out paper copies or snail mail. They’re not getting lost in their Outlook inbox that maybe they can’t find six months from now. We’ve found it very valuable to be able to share documents with clients.
And then once the potential client has become a client, the case manager is doing their case manager meeting, and they’re filling out any needed information into the customized fields. They’re drafting skeleton documents, whether that be a complaint or a demand letter or an opinion letter, and then scheduling a time for the client to meet with the attorney to finalize documents before filing.”
What would you say to other law firm administrators who are researching different legal software options?
“Keep speaking up! How is your current software impacting your efficiency? How is it hurting the revenue of the business? How is making the change to new software going to improve the revenue of the firm? I know those are the factors our firm looked at. How’s it going to affect the budget, how’s it going to help us scale as a company? Is it going to reduce our overhead in any way?
Do your research to find a firm that is either similar numerically structured to like yours or similar in size, and schedule a time to talk with them. Have a list of questions, and ask those questions.
There are folks at Clio that will also answer those questions. If there is a Clio Certified Consultant in your area, get a relationship with that consultant—many times they will come to you and demonstrate and work through and allow you to see how the program works.
If you have an opportunity to go to the Clio Cloud Conference or participate in that virtually, I would recommend that. There’s a lot of positive feedback that comes from that, which will address some of the questions that you may have. Schedule an hour, find somebody to talk to, get the background information and then continue scheduling time answering questions, and watch Clio videos that can be found online.
Build a relationship with a consultant and begin thinking about what you are willing to change from your old system, because we did have to make some changes in our policies and procedures. Change is hard and you have to prepare for that. It’s not something that you can do in a week or even a month. We researched for probably a year or more before we made the decision to actually pull the trigger and decide we were going with Clio.
And then we took a whole quarter to talk about implementation and the migration of the data and what that was going to look like for our team. Then, create teams in-house if you can to help that process. We had an accounting team. We had a management team, and we had a technology team—and each of those teams met together to prepare. So make sure that you’ve got time and that you’ve done your research before making the change.”