How Maria O’Donovan & Co Solicitors found unrivalled value with Clio
Maria O'Donovan & Co Solicitors
Started Using Clio
Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland
Setting up a small law firm often comes with big overheads. While utilising technology to streamline operations within a practice is a no-brainer for many, cost can be a major barrier to achieving that. Discover why Maria O’ Donovan, founder of Maria O’Donovan and Co Solicitors, in Co. Cork, Ireland, has found Clio to be the most cost-effective law firm management software on the market for her family law-focused firm.
How Maria O’ Donovan & Co Solicitors found unrivalled value with Clio
A passion for helping people is the greatest motivation for setting up a law firm—and it’s precisely why Maria O’ Donovan decided to set up her own practice in 2015.
With a small team of four based in Skibbereen, Co. Cork, Maria’s firm specialises in family law, employment law, and litigation, with Circuit Court divorce and separation cases making up the core of the business. As with any law firm, that means dealing with a lot of client communication, documentation, and, of course, compliance. In order to keep on top of all of that and more, Maria knew that legal case management software was essential. That led her to Clio.
While reviewing all of the case management software options on the market when the firm was initially set up, and comparing those against Clio, Maria made an observation.
“Looking at all of the other packages that were on offer from all of the other platforms, they’re really, really expensive,” Maria says. “The initial setup costs are just not feasible for a small law firm that’s just starting out.”
Clio’s price point, which starts from as little as €49 per user per month, along with its wealth of features, including cloud-based document storage and secure document sharing capabilities, stood out as the clear choice for Maria and her team, who began using the platform in 2016.
An innovative Irish law firm
Innovation is something that’s woven into Maria O’Donovan’s career. That’s led her to try things that few others are doing. For example, just two years after becoming fully qualified, she created a precedent in the High Court as the first solicitor in Ireland to obtain an order of service of proceedings via Facebook.
Already a trained mediator and experienced in dispute resolution, Maria has recently started another new venture called Elevation: a group coaching service that helps separated mothers to communicate better with ex-partners and improve parental relationships and the wellbeing of children.
As Maria puts it, “Elevation is another string to my bow that’s come from my passion for helping people in those awful situations—it’s a different way to do that.”
That kind of busy workload and drive to optimise the experience of legal clients means that staying organising and on top of tasks is key for Maria and her firm’s success. That’s where Clio comes in.
One platform, multiple user experiences
Everyone’s role in a law firm is different, which means that all staff members use Clio for different things. Within Maria O’Donovan and Co Solicitors, office manager Janine McEvoy is responsible for all of the day-to-day administration duties within the practice. That includes ensuring that all finances are in order at all times—and when there is only one person responsible for staying on top of accounts, rather than a whole team, it can be extremely time-consuming. Thanks to the visibility that Clio gives over invoicing, Janine is able to manage the firm’s accounts with ease.
Janine explains, “Being able to send the invoices through Clio is very useful. I know exactly what the client was sent as well as when they received it. Clients are also able to reply to invoices and say things like ‘I’ll pay you next week’, which is then stored in Clio Connect [Clio’s secure sharing portal]; that’s really helpful. Being able to reconcile payments with our bank account also makes my job much easier.”
Meanwhile, Maria’s daily tasks as principal of the firm consist of anything from court appearances to mediating cases with clients as well as focusing on business strategy. As she’s often on the go, being able to access documents as she needs them is vital—something that Clio’s cloud-based case management software enables.
“Originally, using a cloud-based system appealed to me because it meant I didn’t have to go and buy servers when I set up the firm, and having 24/7 access to files has really paid off.”
Besides being a boon to the firm in usual circumstances, it’s also meant that they can adapt quickly when the unexpected happens.
“In December 2020, I broke my ankle,” Maria explains. “I had to stay at home sitting on the couch for six weeks. Aside from getting over the logistics of court appearances and things like that, having Clio meant that I was able to keep working from home, even though I couldn’t get to the office.”
Connecting with clients and co-counsel
Another area where Clio makes life easier for the firm is in sharing essential details with clients, other firm members, and co-counsel and other legal professionals as needed. Thanks to Clio Connect, Maria and the team can share documents, bills, calendar events, and any direct secure messages that have been sent back and forth to clients.
“Being able to put documents into folders and then send that folder is definitely time saving,” Maria says. “There was actually a barrister in the last week who commented on how efficient Clio Connect was, saying, ‘What’s that? It’s amazing!’’”
Compliance and due diligence is also made easier with Clio—especially when it comes to taking on new cases. She says, “We can search for the other party’s name in Clio to see if they have phoned and given us information before, if we have had previous correspondence or communication with us—this helps us to make sure all boxes are ticked before taking on a new case.”
Starting out and branching out
Starting a new law firm comes with a certain amount of trial and error, but choosing Clio has been a solid investment for the practice—one that other new firms should consider, Maria says.
The software is user friendly and easy to get started on, Maria says. “I’ve found Clio to be pretty self explanatory.”
Should any issue arise, there’s quick support available at no cost, thanks to Clio’s 24/5 customer support services that is available by phone, email, or web chat.
“The customer support team is so informative and always get back to you,” office manager Janine explains. “My preference is web chat, because sometimes you have to walk away from your computer mid-conversation, and when you come back, there’s an email from the customer support agent with the information I need. They then follow up in a day or two to make sure the problem is resolved.”
With that support as well as training coming at no extra cost, Clio stacks up for Irish law firms, Maria says. That’s on top of the cloud storage Clio offers as part of its practice management software which cuts out the need for on-premise servers.
“Cost is definitely an issue for a smaller firm,” she says. “Being able to store a lot of documents on the cloud is massive, without any extra investment for hardware is a massive plus for us.”
When asks how she rates Clio for smaller firms, Maria says it’s affordable, convenient, and straightforward.
“I definitely think that for someone who is starting up a small firm, Clio is the best system on the market compared to the others. It’s the best value for money.”