Living their vision: how a criminal defense firm increased revenue while taking more pro bono work with Clio

Chartier & Nyamfukudza, PLC

  • 2017

    Year Founded
  • 6-10

    Number of Staff
  • 2017

    Started Using Clio
  • Lansing, MI, USA

    Location
  • Hourly

    Fee Types
  • Criminal Defence

    Practice Areas

Chartier & Nyamfukudza, PLC, a criminal defense litigation firm from Lansing, Michigan, are the recipients of the 2022 Legal Impact Award, which celebrates law firms that embody Clio’s mission of transforming the practice of law for the better. As the only “people’s choice” award in the Reisman Awards, Chartier & Nyamfukudza, PLC was selected through popular vote.

So, how did Charter & Nyamfukudza, PLC capture this elusive award?

Living their vision for social justice

Ask anyone at Chartier & Nyamfukudza why they do what they do, and they’ll respond with “social justice”. It’s something that they put into practice with their values every day. The firm focuses exclusively on criminal defense work, and their mission shines through in their pro bono exoneration work.

Last year alone, Chartier & Nyamfukudza exonerated three wrongfully convicted individuals, one of whom had been in prison for over 26 years. With results like these and a mission to drive such impactful change, it’s no surprise that Chartier & Nyamfukudza received the 2022 Legal Impact Award.

As Chartier & Nyamfukudza’s legal software provider of choice, Clio is honored to support them in their mission. Since partnering with Clio, Chartier & Nyamfukudza has grown their business (with a five-fold increase in revenue) and streamlined their processes, including intake and task management, allowing them to put more time towards their criminal defense clients and pro bono advocacy.

Read on to learn more about how Clio helps Chartier & Nyamfukudza with their criminal defense work.

Why Chartier & Nyamfukudza trusts Clio with their critical practice

Clio has been an integral part of Chartier & Nyamfukudza since the beginning. The firm became a Clio customer the day it launched in 2017. Over the last few years, Clio has helped Chartier & Nyamfukudza streamline their intake process, minimize administrative work, and grow financially—all while better serving their clients.

Essential work requires the best tools

When representing a client can make a difference between freedom and incarceration, you need the best tools and support available. Chartier & Nyamfukudza realized this early on—while working in court with another criminal defense lawyer who used Clio, partner Mary Chartier was blown away by Clio’s capabilities and decided to make the switch.

“That was the moment I realized we needed Clio. I saw everything my colleague could do with Clio on his laptop from the courtroom. He could assign tasks, he could easily calendar. I was stuck writing things down on a pad and paper and hoping I remembered everything. I went back to the office to tell people what we needed to do.”

Before committing to Clio, however, Mary and Takura asked paralegal Lizzy Sailor to do some research. If they were going to commit to a new platform, they wanted to ensure they were going with the best one.

“We looked at Clio and Clio’s competitors across the board and decided that Clio was the best one. It had the best reputation. It had the most to offer us. We always want to be affiliated with the best, never the second best. We went with Clio and we’ve never looked back.”

More time, more impact

Since adopting Clio, Chartier & Nyamfukudza can focus on their cases’ strategic, high-level aspects, rather than administrative tasks, while streamlining necessary administrative tasks. As courtroom litigators fighting for their clients’ freedom, focusing on advocacy and strategy—while streamlining administrative tasks—is essential for them.

“Clio helps keep us focused on the strategic and the really important parts of a case. When you look at your day as a lawyer, what you imagined when you were in law school with defending clients. It wasn’t doing administrative functions that can be more easily and quite frankly, better done by Clio.”

No task left unassigned

In any law firm, staying organized is key. That’s why Chartier & Nyamfukudza loves Clio’s task management features. No matter where they are, Charter & Nyamfukudza staff can easily update their tasks and calendar schedules, and receive alerts regarding new tasks assigned to them. This keeps everyone on top of their to-do list while freeing up time for more pressing legal work.

“Task Management with Clio is my favorite feature by far, because it allows us to stay organized and it prevents that, oh my goodness, did I ask someone to do this moment, which I used to have multiple times every day before Clio?”

Client intake for clients everywhere

The criminal justice system has many challenges—but that doesn’t hold Clio back. As Chartier & Nyamfukudza has seen, Clio helps streamline client intake and management regardless of where clients are physically located so attorneys can get them the help they need as quickly as possible.

“In the criminal defense area, you need to move quickly. Generally, when someone is contacting us, they’ve either been accused or they’ve been actually charged. We don’t have time to wait to get basic information from the client. With Clio Grow, staff can send out a customized intake form and, even if the client is incarcerated, they’re able to get that information from either the client or their family. It’s critical to have that client’s background, history, and immigration status because some offenses can result in deportation. We would not get that critical information as quickly if we were not working with Clio Grow.”

Helping more clients while increasing revenue

Chartier & Nyamfukudza attributes Clio’s help with administrative tasks and client intake to a five-fold increase in revenue since starting with the software. By automating routine tasks and getting client information into Chartier & Nyamfukudza’s system quickly, their attorneys can help more clients and get them the help they need faster.

“Since moving to Clio, we’ve had enormous growth financially. Our revenue has skyrocketed. I attribute that in a very large part to Clio and the ability to stay organized. The billing function is unbelievably easy, and it’s really easy to invoice clients. Clients generally want to pay. We just need to make it easy for them. And Clio does make it easy for them. We’re making more money. We’re able to enjoy our lives more, and we’re better able to serve our clients.”

Criminal defense and Clio: partners in practice

Criminal defense firms have unique needs in the legal community. Their attorneys often work from the road, the courthouse, an incarceration center, and anywhere in between. Their clients face serious and life-changing charges, regardless of whether they are incarcerated. When a client’s freedom is on the line, every opportunity to streamline tasks and track information is critical. That’s why Mary Chartier recommends Clio to every criminal defense lawyer she comes across.

“Using Clio has helped us exonerate people who have been wrongfully imprisoned because it has enabled us to really focus on what matters when you are releasing someone or trying to release someone from prison. It’s an all hands on deck, years-long labor of love and Clio has enabled us to focus on that work and stay organized so we make sure no stone is left unturned. My advice for other law firms considering Clio would be to get Clio. There is no other advice. Get Clio and get it quickly.”

A mighty team with a mightier vision

The team’s vision for the future extends far beyond the walls of the law firm. In addition to continuing helping individuals through their criminal defense work, the team has their sights set on changing the system as a whole by advocating for generational reform of our justice system and reducing the stigma surrounding wrongfully charged individuals.

“We’re giving back to individuals by giving them their lives, by freeing them from prison. On a broader scale, we’re really trying to be a voice for true reform in the system—not superficial reforms that make people feel good, but real reforms. The criminal justice system in the United States absolutely has to be reformed. I don’t think there’s any facet that cannot be improved. We do far too little in the United States to ensure the rights of our defendants and to keep the government in check.”

Mary and Takura know that they need a strong team behind them to achieve their goals. That’s why Chartier & Nyamfukudza prioritizes its team. By being selective with clients and focusing on team culture, they have fostered an amazing work environment with many talented, long-term employees. By fostering team culture, the Chartier & Nyamfukudza team is doing the best work of their careers and will continue to fight for their clients well into the future.

“I’m really proud of the work we do for our clients. We’ve succeeded on cases where people thought there was no way we would ever be able to win in court. And, of course, I’m very proud of the innocent men and women we’ve worked to release from prison.”

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