Thank you to Clio for once again being a sponsor of iPhone J.D., and this week there is big Clio news to announce: a brand new iPhone app, and a really great one at that. As you may already know, Clio offers web-based practice management, time & billing and client collaboration services (including document management) for small and mid-sized law firms. When you use Clio, your important client data is securely accessible anywhere that you have Internet access.
You have always been able to access Clio from a web browser, including Safari on an iPhone. I discussed that interface earlier this year. But Clio surveyed its users and learned that close to 70% of mobile Clio use was on an iPhone, and thus they worked hard to develop a native iPhone app. Yesterday, it became available on the app store, and it is now a free download that can be used by anyone with a subscription to Clio.
Given the recent release of iOS 7, the timing of Clio's app release could not be better. The Clio app has a beautiful and easy to use interface that fits like a glove with iOS 7. The graphics are clean and modern, and you will see the same icons that Apple uses in its own iOS 7 apps. Jack Newton, the CEO and co-founder of Clio, explains: “We designed the Clio iPhone app from the ground up to take full advantage of the new features and visual language of iOS 7, and deliver an unparalleled user experience as a result.” The app also works with iOS 6 if you haven't yet upgraded.
Start the app and you are asked to enter your pin for security. You then see your information in Clio. For example, one view shows you a list of your open matters.
If you tap on a matter you get more information, such as basic information about the matter, or an interesting timeline view which presents a graphical view of all of the activity on the file.
From any screen, you can swipe to the left or to the right to expose other panels. Swipe the screen from left to right and you see tabs for each function of the app: Matters, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Time Entries, Documents and Settings. Swipe from right to left and you see what Clio calls the Awesome Bar Awesome Dashboard [UPDATE: one of the software developers at Clio, Tys von Gaza, tweeted that they are instead calling it the Awesome Dashboard]. At the top of the Awesome Dashboard is a timer that you can start with the tap of a button to have your iPhone monitor and track your billable time on a matter. The Awesome Dashboard also shows you your upcoming events and tasks.
When you display Contacts you are shown all of your Clio Contacts. You can tap the + to add a new contact. If you tap the word Clio Contacts at the top of your screen you can then switch to a view of all of your iPhone contacts — the contacts in the iPhone's built-in Contacts app — and with a simple tap you can upload any contact on your iPhone directly to your Clio Contacts.
When you display the Calendar you see all of your events in Clio for that day. Tap on the event to change any information about the event, such as the start and end time, whether it is a recurring event, who is attending the event, the matter to which the event is billed, etc.
When you display Documents you see a searchable list of your Clio documents. Tap on any document to view it. The app lets you select and copy text in the document, but unfortunately there is currently no option to send the document to another app.
Perhaps one of the most useful reasons to have Clio on your iPhone is the ability to create time entries as they occur, even when you are away from your computer. There are multiple ways to enter time. First, you can simply swipe the screen from right to left to bring up the Awesome Dashboard and start a timer to have the iPhone determine how long you are working on a matter. A blue bar appears at the top of the screen (as shown on some of the above images) when your iPhone is tracking your time. Second, in the Matters view, you can tap the three dots to the right of a matter name and a pop-up menu will apeal; tap + Time to enter time for that matter. Third, you can swipe the screen from left to right to display Time. From there, you can manually enter a time entry, including selecting a matter and entering the amount of time spent. Right now the interface requires you to tap a button to manually display the Description and or Notes fields, but I'm told that this might change in the future. The Description field is a list of activities that you can edit on your computer so that on your iPhone you can simply tap a selection such as "Research" or "Meeting." The Notes field allows for a more traditional text entry, such as "research motion for summary judgment."
For more information on how this app works, here is a short two minute video from Clio that shows the app in action:
As you can tell, this 1.0 version of the Clio app is already quite impressive. Massachusetts attorney and prolific blogger Bob Ambrogi says that "Clio’s iPhone app is the most highly functional and highly intuitive practice-management app I’ve seen." And fortunately, it will get better. Minneapolis attorney Sam Glover of Lawyerist.com reports that the Clio app was developed in-house and there are six full-time developers at Clio working on the app. The folks at Clio tell me that fresh on the heels of this 1.0 release, the team is already working on features for the next version.
If you already use Clio in your law practice, then you'll want to download this app today to take advantage of the convenient interface to the Clio service. If you are an iPhone-using attorney at a small or medium sized law firm and you don't currently use law firm mangement software, you'll definitely want to take a look at Clio. The web-baed tools are powerful, and the new iPhone client makes the service even more useful.