You can’t get through a ten minute conversation with Clio’s CEO and co-founder, Jack Newton, without discussing Clio’s mission – to transform the practice of law, for good.
Jack needn’t even bring up the company’s mission. Talking to him alone, leaves you asking, “What makes you guys tick? What makes your team so enthusiastic and driven? What has made Clio such a driving force in legal innovation? You’re not legal professionals, after all.”
Jack will tell you, it’s the mission.
The mission is more than words. The mission, in every sense of the word, was palpable at last week’s Clio’s Cloud Conference in San Diego.
“[T]he word cult can carry a negative connotation, suggesting blind adherence to a religion or orthodoxy. But it can also mean, according to Merriam-Webster, a great devotion to an idea or movement, such as the cult of physical fitness. Wikipedia says cults often form around “novel beliefs and practices.”
Within the stilted environment of the legal profession, the ideas that prevailed at this conference were, indeed, “novel beliefs and practices.” Within the context of a profession known for its resistance to change, having 2,000 people together at one time who share a great devotion to such ideas made it feel a bit like a cult.
But, let me be clear: this is no blind adherence. These are professionals whose eyes are wide open to the future of legal practice and to the potential for their own firms. It is a cult in the most positive sense – a devotion to the idea of being better in their practices and for their clients — a devotion to innovation.“
And we’re not talking just practicing legal professionals. There were hundreds of legal tech companies and entrepreneurs represented. Not just hawking their wares, but getting feedback and raw enthusiasm from the lawyers they met in the exhibit halls or over a beer.
Talking to these legal tech entrepreneurs, many of whom left law firms when they saw an obvious problem needing a solution, you couldn’t help but feel tech and innovation are going to bring access to legal services in ways we could never have imagined.
I don’t know if they’re scared off by Clio’s mission, or its threat, but large legal companies, the likes of which you see at every other legal tech conference were conspicuous by their absence. LexisNexis, Thomson, Reuters, Walters Kluwer and Bloomberg Law to name a few.
Unlike other legal tech companies, Clio is literally a movement, with over 150,000 users in over 100 countries.
Its CEO sees the size of the U.S. market as one million lawyers – that means solo to the largest firms. The company is armed with recent series D funding of $250 million, placing its valuation at well North of a billion dollars, and is on track to a public offering.
As strange as it may sound to some large legal companies, the fastest way to build more of a following is to hang out with the growing thousands at Clio Con. My guess is that the legal professionals at Clio are more innovative and tech receptive than legal professionals at other conferences.
Large legal companies may also want to look at ways to integrate some of their products into Clio’s platform. I’d be very surprised if Clio is not the largest legal platform in the world, ala Salesforce in business, within the coming years.
Best of all though about Clio Con, year after year, is the Clio team.
“The Clio team is also one of the company’s best assets. One of the best parts about going to ClioCon is hanging out with all the upbeat, friendly Clions. Clio brought 140 Clions to the Clio Cloud Conference this year, which meant someone in a Clio shirt was always close by to lend a helping hand. Just like Clio as a software developer cares about its users, Clio as event planner obviously cares about its attendees. As a result, Clio Cloud Conference feels a bit like a celebration of lawyers and lawyering, even though there is plenty to learn, too.”
There is no other legal or legal tech conference that can match the Clio Con team in its enthusiasm, drive, passion and care. Perhaps it’s their not being legal professionals that enables them to see legal services – and service, in general, from a non-legal professional’s eye.
Beyond the boots on the ground, Jack’s prolific use of social media has rubbed off on his team members.
Whether I was on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn talking about Clio Con, members of the Clio team were engaging me. Marketing, tech leads, service, project management, sales and who have you, these folks love engaging people and understand the value of relationships.
I was struck by one Clio team member’s engagement of me on Twitter. That evening at a large social event I saw him walk by. I went up and introduced myself.
I asked him what made him join Clio and how he enjoyed what we was doing. He said he had known Jack for years and that Jack had been after him to join, throughout.
But only recently had he really come to see and feel the cause and mission that Clio and the team was was on – and how that was leading to such success.
After we talked a while, I told him the more I’m around Clio, I am struck by how special it is. It’s people, it’s values, it’s mission and it’s culture.
He acknowledged it all true, and told me that he’d follow Jack Newton to the end of the world, whether at Clio or elsewhere.
Inspiring for believers in Clio’s ability to change the practice of law, for good. Scary for entrenched competitors.