January 21st, 2013 by Gwynne Monahan
Meet Moira Dickinson of Dickinson Law Offices, a family-run boutique intellectual property firm in Texas. The Dickinson Law Offices primarily focuses on patents related to oil and gas drilling and service equipment. Most of its clients are mid-sized suppliers for parts and services for larger companies and multinationals. The Dickinson Law Offices provides full service legal work, with old style family retainers.
Why a patent attorney?
I remember what my father said about being a patent attorney: “I get to meet with somebody and talk to them about the thing they’re most excited about. I see their enthusiasm and their passion, and then I get to sit down and translate what they’ve created into the written word.”
And patent law is broken down into essentially Claims and the Specification. Claims are very much like poetry, each word has a specific and subtle meaning, and must be chosen with care. Specifications are the prose, telling the story of what you invented. You need to present it in such a way to convince the examiners of your client’s invention.
So what did you use before Clio?
Several things, mostly TimeSlips as that’s something we inherited. We didn’t love it. We looked into writing our own AppleScript programming, or using some amalgamation of freeware or whatever was out there as well as some database we created. We spent a lot of time looking and thinking about what would work for our practice.
The thing I like about Clio, and the thing I tell anyone, is that Clio and the staff are incredibly responsive.
Clio is small, personable and the people really pay attention to what we say and are willing to really work on it. We really like the responsiveness aspect of Clio. It doesn’t have every single thing we need, but we’ve never had such great customer service.
Clio is such a contrast to other software programs. We dropped QuickBooks because we could not get customer service on the phone. Or if we did, they weren’t very helpful.
What problems did Clio help your firm solve?
It’s the issue of getting everything in one place and having it accessible. And for smaller practitioners today, accessibility is essential.
Our biggest issues were time keeping and the ease of billing and tracking of receivables, and having it cloud-based as well. For a while I was commuting between California and Texas, so having work accessible from the cloud is great. And having a system that works on Macs is huge. I love the integration with Google Mail and Dropbox.
Also key was the ease of startup. That was big. Getting our information into Clio was fairly easy, and that was nice.
What did you find to be Clio’s most valuable feature?
Customer service. Absolutely.
It’s not the program, it’s the people.
You can get everything Clio does somewhere else. It’s not that it’s is new, but the customer service aspect is huge. The fact that you can trust the people running the program is incredible, and not something you find with a lot of companies. Other companies are small and responsive, but don’t have longevity, which is a problem for legal services. Or larger companies that you can’t get on the phone, but you can trust to be there for a long time.
It’s incredibly rare to have a company like Clio that is small enough to be responsive, yet large enough to trust they have continuity. Hands down, that was the selling point for us, and continues to be.
Are there any benefits from Clio that you didn’t anticipate?
The unexpected thing was actually having the familiarity with, a sense of connecting with the people of the company. I knew Clio was small when we first signed up, but I never expected the level of service we got. It’s been a great surprise.
Rian. Catherine. Angus. I can name off the top of my head the people who delivered exceptional service. I usually don’t remember names, but I can remember them. And every person I’ve spoken to regarding any glitch has been responsive, and easy to understand, even when the answer is “that’s a really interesting idea, but there’s no way we can do that right now.”
Have Clio & “the Cloud” changed the way you practice law? If so, how?
I practice from home one day a week, and my father is near retirement age and would like be part time, and telecommute from some warm place. My brother and our paralegals need flexibility for their families. This flexibility is integral to our long term plans, and Clio makes it possible.
How has Clio improved your firm and the service you offer your clients?
It’s made it easier for everyone in our office to keep track of time. For clients, it’s specific and detailed information on the invoice. It’s helped us so that we can help them.
Would you recommend Clio to your colleagues?
Absolutely, and I do.
Mac or PC?
Anything else you’d like to add?
We really like Clio, it’s 75% the people and 25% the program. We didn’t have to write our own software, the cost is low compared to most programs, and the amount of improvements and change has been really remarkable. Keep it up!