Leon Carelli, Melanie Garner, and Janet Lewis, Locks Law
Locks Law is a personal injury law firm with locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. The firm frequently takes on class action lawsuits, and has achieved over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for its clients. With thousands of clients and cases to keep track of, and with a need to collaborate across multiple offices, Locks Law turned to the best technology available to run things more smoothly, stay competitive, and provide excellent client service.
For attorneys and staff at Locks Law Firm, the best part of their day is helping people.
“The type of law we practice here is meaningful to me,” says Leon Carelli, Chief Technology Officer at Locks Law Firm. “We help people, and we go up against entities and groups that other firms may think are too risky, or that its too hard, or it takes too much. So to be able to help enable attorneys to fight on behalf of people who might not otherwise be able to find representation is a great feeling.”
Locks Law has achieved over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for its clients. It’s cases include major class-action lawsuits regarding asbestos and mesothelioma, consumer issues, and concussions and sports-related head injuries for retired NFL players.
But with thousands of clients and open cases in class action lawsuits, keeping track of it all and ensuring key information and deadlines don’t get missed can be a challenge.
Searching for a better solution
Before Locks Law Firm moved to Clio, the system they used was clunky and difficult to navigate. Different lawyers in different practice areas at the firm used different solutions—none of which were easily customizable or integrated well with other tools—making the firm’s tech stack incredibly time-consuming for Leon to manage.
“As anyone will tell you at any firm in the country, it’s hard work to get everybody onto the same page when it comes to using a single, unified practice management system,” he says. “Every team works differently in a firm, and a lot of products will try to force the firm to fit to their structure rather than having a product that can adapt to the structure of your firm. That was one of the problems that we had with our previous practice management: For some people it worked great, and for others, they would never touch it.”
Another issue had to do with reporting. With thousands of cases and clients, Locks Law needed to be able to use data to guide decisions about its strategy and day-to-day operations to succeed, but with its previous system, reporting was incredibly difficult.
“It could take me multiple days to create a new style of report that I could give a few anointed people access to,” Leon explains. “These took really beefy systems to process, and if we wanted change anything, it wasn’t something that Janet could just go in and change—we had to completely alter and rebuild custom formulas and queries to that they could be reissued.”
For Janet, Locks Law’s Director of Sports & Athlete Relations, this lack of access to data was baffling. “The data was never meant to be something sacred,” she says. “Everyone in the office was working with these clients, so why couldn’t they easily get relevant data and reports?”
Moving to the cloud for ease of use, flexibility, security, and more
When the firm started looking for a new solution, Leon started searching for the best platform in terms of ease of use, flexibility, third party integrations, mobile access, and security. After a couple of years of looking at different solutions, it became clear that Clio was far and away the leader in all five areas.
“No one is even close in terms of practice management software for legal,” Leon says. “When it comes to third party integrations, mobile access, and security, no one is even in the same ballpark [as Clio]. That’s just a fact.”
Locks Law firm has long believed in the power of the cloud. The firm moved from Microsoft to Google Apps long before they were widely used in law firms. The firm made the choice to move to the cloud for many reasons, but a big one had to do with security.
“Unless you are Big Law, you will never have the spend you need to get the security levels available to many cloud platforms, platforms who live and breathe and die by the infrastructure they build, update, and maintain,” he explains. “It’s something that would be virtually impossible, and at best close to cost-prohibitive, in an on-premise system.”
There were also massive cost savings to consider in terms of licensing arrangements that allowed Leon’s firm to scale on demand. As a hypothetical example, instead of negotiating a 1,000-user contract at the beginning of the year (knowing he’d only need 600 licenses until his summer associates came in), Leon knew that with Clio, he could scale his licenses up when they were needed.
When Locks Law moved to Clio, it was on a four-month implementation timeline. For Leon, the entire process was easier than other experiences he’d had in the past: The data export and mapping into Clio were great, and the staff on hand to help with the process were tremendous.
For starters, Leon needed to hire far fewer external consultants to help with the transition compared to past experiences.
“We’ve done many other implementations with other software, and other database software, and we’ve frequently had to bring in outside consultants for multiple parts of the process. In this particular situation, we only needed to bring in a consultant for one particular data export from that advanced revelation software, just because it was a customized program and there wasn’t an easy way to access those tables,” he says.
Meanwhile, stellar support from Clio allowed Leon to continue to do his job while handling a massive transition to a new practice management software.
“Any time we had a hiccup or a problem or a question, it was a simple phone call or email to get our transition guy on the phone. It was great,” he says. “From my perspective, usually I have to do this myself, and to have someone on hand and on call through the whole process to make sure things would get done was a lifesaver for me.”
And, once the firm got up-and-running with Clio, the results were incredible.
Managing thousands of cases with Clio—seamlessly
From the beginning, the quality of the software and the level of support Locks Law received from Clio has made a huge difference in the day-to-day lives of those at the firm.
For example, Leon explained that with other systems, he’d have to contact the provider himself every time someone in the firm needed help with the program—but Clio isn’t like that. Firm members can easily contact Clio support via live chat right from the app, or by phoning in.
“I cannot explain to you how much of a help that is to the workload of my IT department,” he says. “We’ve been able to build out better and more robust video conference and video deposition support. The time for things like that came from the ability to have Clio be supported by Clio, and that’s something you could never do with most on-premise systems.”
Now, training new staff is also a cinch, thanks to useful and easy-to-digest content on Clio’s support site. “The video resources at Clio are the gold standard,” Leon says. “[They’re] clear, concise, short videos that show you ‘here’s how you do things step-by-step,’ and for anyone who’s ever had to manage a training program, that’s invaluable.”
Managing it all with flexible software
Now, staff and lawyers spend less time and energy keeping cases organized, because Clio’s flexibility allows them to manage what’s most important to them.
For Melanie Garner, an Associate at Locks Law Firm, document management in Clio has been a game changer. “I think the thing that I like the most about Clio is being able to set it up the way I want it set up,” she says. “I can name folders things that make sense to me and not some pre-categorized thing that doesn’t make sense.”
Meanwhile, Custom Fields make it easy to keep track of critical details that are unique to certain types of cases and wouldn’t typically be included in other systems. For example, Janet uses Clio to manage Locks’s class action settlement with the NFL, and she’s created fields for things like which years someone played in the NFL, which team they played on, and whether they’re eligible for a Baseline Assessment Program (BAP) appointment to determine if they’re suffering from neurocognitive impairment.
In the past, she’s only trusted her own spreadsheets with this information—but now she’s starting to switch because she trusts that everything is in Clio.
This functionality also makes reporting simpler and more accessible for anyone in the firm. Users can change the columns on their main matters, contacts, and billing pages in Clio (and more), and then bookmark a link to that page in their browser, allowing them to generate and run their own quick reports. They can also export these pages to CSV if they’d like to dig in further, or prepare a report for a meeting.
“They’re ready to go to a meeting without ever having needed to contact IT to generate a custom report, and that saves a tremendous amount of time on my end,” Leon says.
Finally, Leon will wax poetic about “the simple beauty of a secure and open API” like Clio’s. This allows him to easily and securely integrate other programs the firm uses with Clio, keeping everything the firm does in one centralized platform. Locks Law has integrated Clio with Vonage, Google Apps, and other programs via Zapier.
Discovering the benefits of an intuitive solution
For Melanie, the ease-of-use of Clio can’t be overstated. “I think everything is just a lot easier, more streamlined, and user-friendly,” she says. For example, Melanie works mainly on contingency cases, but she’s found Clio to be a lifesaver on cases where she needs to track billable hours.
“I was working on a case that had billable hours during the time that we made the switch to Clio, and it was 1,000 times easier to input my time,” she says. “It was great to just have it all there in the same program that I have up on my desktop all the time anyway, rather than a completely separate program.”
The fact that Clio is cloud-based has also made a huge impact on Melanie’s day-to-day, since she and most other attorneys at Locks frequently travel out of state.
“Being able to log in remotely and quickly access anything just as easily as we could as in the office, is huge,” she explains. Whether via her laptop or Clio’s mobile app, she’s able to quickly check the address of a client she’s meeting with, or look up information in the middle of a court hearing.
However, there’s one part of Clio that Locks Law wasn’t expecting, but that has made a huge difference in how the firm runs each day: The Firm Feed.
“One thing that I did not expect to be a major thing that I liked about Clio, but to this day is one of the points that I bring up when I talk about the platform, is the Firm Feed; the ability to go into any matter, overall for the entire firm, and see what has been done recently in that file and by whom,” Leon says.
This comes in handy when one of Locks’s thousands of clients calls in and isn’t sure who they spoke to last: Their receptionist can quickly look at the Firm Feed, see the name of a paralegal who recently logged something in Clio, and know who to reach out to for more information.
“When you’re dealing with thousands of cases in class actions, you’re dealing with a lot of people, and it’s impossible for one person to know who everyone should be directed to just in terms of an incoming call. The Firm Feed is something that makes that accessible to everyone in the firm,” Leon said.
Delivering incredible work
As a lawyer, the biggest part of Melanie’s job is helping people. “I think that’s probably the best feeling in the world, to be able to help our clients achieve what they are trying to achieve,” she says.
For Leon, the best part of his job is empowering the lawyers at his firm to do that work, and with technology like Clio, the possibilities are endless. Whether he’s making sure thousands of cases stay organized, or facilitating a remote appearance for a client at a court hearing, it’s all rewarding.
“For me, it’s a win when my attorneys are able to do something they’ve never been able to do before, or that other firms seem incapable of doing, or have to hire multiple outside vendors to do,” he says. “It makes our attorney’s lives easier. It helps our clients live their lives while going through litigation, and it feels good to be able to facilitate that.”