How a Solo Lawyer Used Clio to Build a Thriving Legal Practice, Right Out of Law School

Hamra Law Group

2013

Year Founded

6-10

Number of Staff

2014

Started Using Clio

New York, NY, USA

Location

Hourly

Fee Types

Business

Employment

Practice Areas

Abraham Hamra, Hamra Law Group

Specializing in employment litigation and business formation, New York’s Hamra Law Group is a small, solo law firm with big, ambitious goals. Using a client-first approach, Hamra Law Group uses Clio’s cloud-based legal practice management software, Clio Manage, to enhance efficiency and offer a high level of service for local and international clients.

In 2019, Hamra Law Group won Clio’s Reisman Award for Best Growth Story. Watch the firm’s story here.

Big risk, bigger reward

When Abraham Hamra, Managing Attorney at Hamra Law Group, graduated from law school in 2013, he faced a big—and daunting—opportunity: He could try to work his way up the ladder at someone else’s law firm, or he could bet on himself.

By taking the initiative to start his own practice, Abraham was able to quickly build from practically nothing to a successful, established practice. 

“I took an initial investment of $250, and within my first year I hit $60,000 in revenue,” says Abraham. “By last year, our revenues grew to over $850,000. This year, we anticipate breaking $1 million in revenue.”

The New York-based firm—which focuses primarily on employment litigation, labor, and employment law—prioritizes growth by using technology to enhance productivity: Clio’s cloud-based legal software puts essential business tools in one centralized place, while streamlining everything from billing to client communication.

“Clio Manage was one of my very first purchases, and I couldn’t have achieved the growth that I have without this software,” Abraham says. 

With a foundation of hard work, an emphasis on client service, and the use of legal practice management software like Clio Manage, Hamra Law Group is driving sustainable growth at home and abroad.

“Clio Manage was one of my very first purchases, and I couldn’t have achieved the growth that I have without this software.”

A bracelet, a promise, and a big leap forward

Abraham’s family came to the United States from Syria as Jewish refugees in 1994, and this experience instilled a sense of determination in him that remains to this day.

“My parents always taught me the importance of grit, hard work, and growth,” Abraham says, reflecting on how those values helped him reach his goal of becoming a lawyer—even if it meant sacrifice.

“I hit a roadblock when I needed money to pay for my LSAT prep,” he explains. To help finance his legal education, he sold a special family heirloom—a bracelet given to him by his late grandmother. 

“It was hard parting with the last gift I had from my grandmother,” Abraham recalls. “However, I made a promise to myself that I would work hard not to waste the opportunity.” 

“Throughout law school and until this day, every time I get the inclination to slack off, I remind myself what I sold to be an attorney.”

Suffice it to say that now, his grandmother would be proud.

From law student to law firm owner

After law school, Abraham wasn’t sure of the path he should take—work for an established firm, or hang his own shingle?

“I always thought, ‘Maybe I’ll work for one to two years at an established firm, save up some money, and then move on and start my own law firm,’” he says. 

“At the time I was graduating, it was a really tight job market. I received a few offers, but they were just too low, considering I had a wife and a kid already.”

Abraham spoke with his wife about the situation, and how he was being offered a salary of about $45,000-$55,000 for a junior role at a firm. “I told her, ‘I don’t really like the area of law, but what am I going to do? I need to find a job to support you and our daughter.’”

But Abraham’s wife thought he shouldn’t take a job he wasn’t interested in—and his father, a lifelong entrepreneur, felt similarly:

“My father explained to me, ‘Once you start working for a salary range for somebody … what happens is you can give up on your dream of opening your own law firm for a very long time, because you will make do with the money that you’re making,’” Abraham says.

“He said, ‘Right now, you have nothing. You have no income, you have no money. Start now, and over time—within a year or two—you’ll build it and you’ll figure it out.’”

“At the time I was graduating, it was a really tight job market. I received a few offers, but they were just too low, considering I had a wife and a kid already.”

Building a practice, one step at a time

In 2013, Abraham started his first law firm as a sole owner: Abraham Hamra Law in New Jersey. That practice was small, so, when he was admitted to the New York Bar in 2014, he extended the firm to include New York.

Over the next few years, the practice grew—and evolved. For a time, Abraham partnered with two other lawyers, but eventually he ended up buying them out, resulting in the Hamra Law Group as it stands today. 

Through the ownership changes, the firm grew at a steady pace—and that growth continues to this day, as Hamra Law Group increases its stature and presence both in the US, and abroad. 

“We’ve moved from only representing smaller businesses to now representing mid-sized and larger businesses in addition to our small business clients,” says Abraham. “We’ve gotten some very large accounts, corporate accounts, in the last six months to a year.”

Some of these newer accounts are located in countries like Israel and China, where Abraham and his team help clients facilitate business transactions, litigations, and disputes.

At this point in his firm’s growth, Abraham feels proud of what he’s accomplished and considers himself fortunate.

“When you start with nothing and you make a little, you become very appreciative of that money, very appreciative of your practice,” says Abraham. “You become really optimistic, because now you’ve created this opportunity that you haven’t had before.”

“When you start with nothing and you make a little, you become very appreciative of that money, very appreciative of your practice,” says Abraham. “You become really optimistic, because now you’ve created this opportunity that you haven’t had before.”

Partnering with Clio, right from the start

“One disadvantage of starting a firm right out of law school is not knowing how to handle administrative tasks like billing, invoicing, client intake, and generating reports on hours billed,” Abraham says.

His relationship with Clio grew out of necessity: He was overwhelmed with administrative tasks, and he needed legal software to relieve the burden.

His perception of Clio Manage started with, “Hey, this is a good time tracker.” Then it transformed to, “Hey, this is really good at storing contact information.” And, “This is really good, because I can just create an email list to send to my clients.”

In other words, Abraham says, the more he’s used Clio Manage over the years, the more new features and services he’s implemented into his practice—with positive results.

“I started really trying to learn more about all the advantages of Clio. I don’t think I’ve scratched even half the surface,” he says.

“Clio, to me, is the mecca of law. You cannot operate a law firm efficiently without using Clio.”

“Clio, to me, is the mecca of law. You cannot operate a law firm efficiently without using Clio.”

Software for law firm efficiency

How does Clio Manage help fuel Hamra Law Group’s success? 

As Abraham puts it, “Clio cuts away with all of the nonsense, and just keeps everything efficient.” 

“If I need a contract done, the contract is right there. The client’s info is right there. I can access everything I need to, I can handle billing on the software. If one of my associates is working on the matter, I can see everything the lawyer’s tracking. It just makes things simple.”

Here are some of the specific ways that Hamra Law Group uses Clio Manage to become more efficient, client-friendly, and profitable.

From old school to new school

Before Clio Manage, Abraham spent a lot of time using Excel to try to organize aspects of his practice—things like tracking billable hours and logging contact information.

“I would enter everything into Excel, as to how much everybody’s billing or whatnot, as well as their contact information for the client. I would do that old school, manually,” he says.

Now, Clio Manage allows Abraham to coordinate his firm’s operations, all from the same place. 

“A ton of our processes have definitely changed due to Clio Manage,” Abraham says. “Way fewer old-school techniques like pen and paper, which is what, honestly, I was used to—not even Excel. And Clio Manage has taken over all of that, from invoicing to keeping track of my employees.”

Streamlined invoicing

One of the most significant improvements that Clio Manage has made for the firm involves invoicing.

Before he started using Clio Manage, Abraham says, “We would invoice the client, print it out, mail it to them, and wait for it to get there. Now, I don’t have to do anything. I can just put in their contact information, email them the invoice, and go from there.”

In the past, Abraham recalls struggling with getting his clients to refill retainers or pay invoices.  “Clients would say they didn’t receive the mail, and to resend it,” he says. “This process took tens of hours each month.”

“Clio Manage helped solve this problem by allowing me to share invoices and retainer requests by simply clicking a button, saving me hours of work a month on mailing and emailing invoices and retainer requests.”

Abraham also appreciates that, from the client’s perspective, Clio Manage’s integrations with InvoiceSherpa and LawPay make the invoicing process smoother.

“Most people don’t want to pay their lawyer,” he says. “So, you’ve got to make it as convenient as possible for them to actually pay.”

With Clio Manage, the process is easier: “They can make a payment directly by the click of a button. Without Clio, receivables would drop dramatically.” 

A convenient, secure client portal

Always looking to improve his clients’ experience, Abraham has rebuilt his website—and it links directly to Clio Manage’s client portal, Clio Connect. This secure portal gives his clients a convenient, confidential way to access and share information with their lawyer.

“It just gives clients that piece of mind that—if they can’t reach their lawyer by phone, or they don’t feel like calling on the phone at the moment—they can log in and see what’s going on.”

Better reporting

As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets managed—which is why Abraham now uses Clio Manage to generate reports and data insights.

“For instance,” he says, “I’m generating reports on my associates, and on my co-counsels—I’m able to track and see their productivity. And these things are essential.”

Making international business run smoothly

Clio also empowers the firm’s growing international business model by allowing Hamra Law Group to operate across time zones and continents.

As Abraham explains, “I can keep track of what my affiliates are billing my clients. I can see how much time they’re spending on documents. We don’t need to establish a full share, but we can share a billed client. They can write notes, let me know what’s going on.”

A small firm’s big picture

Abraham cares about people just as much as he cares about winning cases. He sees his clients in the context of their lives—their children, their livelihoods, their dreams for the future—and he works hard to make sure they and their families get the representation they deserve.

“If I’m representing a client on a litigation and they call me with a situation, I’m there to give them my advice, my two cents,” he says. “If it helps them, I’m very happy because honestly, one, I believe that’s how you should behave as a human being, and two, that’s the smart way to do business.

Abraham believes that putting clients front-and-center doesn’t take away from the firm’s bottom line; on the contrary, he prioritizes his clients to drive his firm’s success.

For other lawyers who are following or want to follow a similar path to Hamra Law Group’s, Abraham says: “Focus on the business. Focus on the growth. Be optimistic, and set real goals that are hard to achieve.” 

He also encourages lawyers to be bold—to have the courage to start new firms, or take their existing firms to the next level.

“Jump into the deep end,” Abraham advises. “Don’t try to dip your toe in, don’t go slowly. Just jump in and start swimming.”

“Clio cuts away with all of the nonsense, and just keeps everything efficient.”