Archive for September, 2008

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The Next Big SaaS: Clio

Posted by: admin on September 29th, 2008

I had a chance to use Clio over the weekend and wanted to share my initial thoughts on the product. I begin with my usual caveat: I only used this product as a demo, only for a few hours and with limited data. I have not used it for any real length of time. If you are a former or current user of Clio, we welcome your thoughts in the comments.

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Themis Solutions Inc., the company that owns Clio, is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. With cooperation from the Law Society of British Columbia, the company has developed its flagship product Clio which is a web-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) practice management system. The program is, of course, available to Mac and PC users alike. Much like its cousins, Clio seeks to fill the niche market of small and medium size firms. 

Christy Burke was my contact for Clio and I was unable to attend the scheduled demo that I had set up with her. After my apologies were sent off, Christy made a test server with demo data pre-populated. After spending a day tinkering around, I am impressed. If I were to describe Clio in one word, I would say, “complete.” 

The Usual Suspects

Here are the features you would expect: A pleasant user interface that takes it cues from the “Keep it Simple” mantra, matter/case management, time tracking, billing and reporting with customized invoices bill reminders, client/contact management that looks intuitive, task scheduling with all the drag/move and drop functionality of a desk top program. One can export from Google, Outlook or iCal calendars into Clio. Also integrated is Trust Accounting that allows one to maintain trust and bank transaction records. This is the big package. What most would be looking for in a Practice Management System.

Still More

But the one feature that made this an exciting release for me: Document Management. We have heard the document management rumbling before. We want something that allows secure access to documents online, save unlimited document versions, and does everything else. It appears Clio was listening and integrated this feature before the launch. 

This is interesting to some folks, so I include it: Practice Performance Metrics allow one to track current, expected, and target billing figures daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. For some firms, I am sure this will be a welcome bonus. 

So many times on the listserve, I hear the cry, “I just want a program that will handle everything. That has accounting integrated. That has a solid calendaring system. That allows me to track clients documents. Is it so much to ask that it does everything?” Perhaps your time has come. I, for one, have not seen a program so close to fully integrated. 

 

If A, Then B

The single criticism to Clio is that overall interface is a bit busy. It isn’t deafening. Just a little busy. This would stand to reason, given the amount of features included. This is also the issue with ruling by committee. When so many voices clamor for one thing, it gets included. It might not be useful to the criminal defense lawyer, but the family law attorney can’t live without it. So often, the SaaS company gets this statement, if you include X, I will sign up today. You hear enough people ask for X, and sales folks are at the programmers door asking why we can’t include X now?  

Price

Clio is being offered at the introductory price of 50 dollars a month for an attorney and 25 dollars a month for support staff. 

I Still Worry

I know who you are. You don’t trust cloud computing. You remember Red Gorrilla and all those angry customers. To you I say, go back to your parchment paper and feather quill pen and trust no one. Seriously though, I understand that certain folks cannot trust a company to hold such valuable data. They alone are the best person to protect that data. I would assume, as a reader of this blog you surf the net. As such, your computer is fire-walled, encrypted with password protection and that you perform multiple redundancy back-ups throughout the day. That you then do test on the back-ups, ensuring they are consistently mirroring your data. That you do not allow anyone into your office unless they have been fully authorized (and you ran a background check on the lady that empties the trash, because sometimes she gives you the stink-eye).  

My point is, these are concerns you can outsource. Per my discussion with all the SaaS companies I have reviewed, Clio follows the same policies, Clio uses password protection with bank-grade 256-bit SSL encryption. Data is backed up daily to a secure, offsite data center, and daily third-party audits are performed to ensure data security. Clio can restrict access to confidential files or client records by individual or by group via rights-managed security. And, most importantly, if you wish to download all your data back to your hard-drive, Clio provides a way to do this as well.

Finally

I doubt that last paragraph convinced any of you that truly distrust internet software.  I understand. For those of you on the fence, you should visit Clio’s website and set up a demo. This SaaS is one of the most promising releases of the year.

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Updates

Posted by: admin on September 25th, 2008

In the last few days Circus Ponies Notebook (Preferred trial notebook system for Law With an Apple) released 3.0 update. It looks great. I ran into a hiccup when installing and received an almost immediate response (thanks Jayson) that fixed things right up. This is the true Mac experience. See all the new goodies included in the latest build here. If you poke around the site a bit, you will see there is a 30 day free demo and online video tutorials on the software. Check it out.  Also today, Evernote released their latest update. Includes Delicious bookmark import, email notes from the iphone, new location based searches and more. Check out the latest from Evernote here.  

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Choose Wisely

Posted by: admin on September 20th, 2008

Blackberry v. iPhone showdown.

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The Brilliant Ad Campaign is…

Posted by: admin on September 18th, 2008

over.

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OT: Boredom Overtook Us…and He Began to Speak

Posted by: admin on September 17th, 2008

Sometimes you just need a time killer. Check out Feist. It is free.

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More on iPhone Forensics

Posted by: admin on September 12th, 2008

Full article from Wired here.

 On your iPhone or your iPod touch, when you press the Home button, there’s a nice little animation that takes you back to the home screen.

To create that animation, your iPhone takes a screenshot of whatever it is you’re doing, and uses it for the transition. Sounds innocent, right?

Not so much, says data forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski (thank you, clipboard). The screenshot is presumably erased from the iPhone after the application closes, but is any digital file really gone after you delete it? Survey says no.

Forensics experts have mined for these screenshots, successfully recovering evidence against criminals accused of rape, murder, and drug deals. They can also recover data from the iPhone’s keyboard and web caches, too. In his presentation, Zdziarski also demonstrated how to bypass an iPhone’s passcode in order to own the device and access personal data. Time-consuming? Sure (it took JZ about an hour and involved a custom firmware build). Impossible? No. As with all things digital (and networked), your privacy is largely illusory. Time to go Don Draper on this one and just use Field Notes books, my stack of business cards, and the rotary dialRead full article from TUAW.  

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Just Bought a Mac?

Posted by: admin on September 8th, 2008

Wondering how to get up to speed on all those Mac-centric nuances. No need to fear. Visit My First Mac. A great site with a ton of webcasts for the uninitiated user. Everyone loves a good webcast. Also of interest for new users is  TUAW’s Mac 101. This series even has some great insights for the more seasoned user.

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New Browsers

Posted by: admin on September 2nd, 2008

Yeah, I like Google. I think they have become something so big that they may lose sight of what they were. In the meantime, I still enjoy a number of their services. In todays news, Google launches a browser?!? Okay. I don’t always dig the interface, but the products are usually rock-solid. We’ll check it out tomorrow. 

UPDATE: For now, Mac users are out in the cold. 

“We’re releasing this beta for Windows to start the broader discussion and hear from you as quickly as possible. We’re hard at work building versions for Mac and Linux too, and will continue to make it even faster and more robust.”