Business of Law

Clio Cloud Conference 2016 promises fun and a roster of well-known speakers

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Clio CEO and founder Jack Newton says that he tries to bring the fun and innovative spirit of Silicon Valley to his company’s annual Clio Cloud Conference. Last year’s installment, for instance, featured a session on how to meditate and an opening address dance party, while the 2014 version had a “Zen Room” where people could go for peace and quiet away from all of the legal industry professionals and thought leaders in attendance.

The fourth annual Clio Cloud Conference, which takes place on Sept. 19 and 20 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago, promises more of the same. The ABA Journal is one of the conference’s media partners. Conferencegoers can expect to attend sessions on technology and the future of law; using data to make more informed decisions; and improving firm efficiency, among many others. The conference has also lined up a deep roster of well-known speakers, including keynote addresses from entrepreneur and best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk; Bloomberg Law vice president and general manager Melanie Heller; and attorney Kimberley Motley, who became the first foreign litigator to try cases in Afghanistan.

Motley, whose life was the subject of a 2015 documentary film, Motley’s Law, tells the ABA Journal that she will talk about her career and her experiences in Afghanistan. When she arrived in the country in 2008 to help train defense lawyers, she never imagined she would still be there eight years later. Motley says she was struck by how arbitrary the Afghan criminal justice system could be, so she stuck around to represent numerous Westerners and other foreigners marooned in the country’s prisons. She has since broadened her practice to the point where she has cases on every continent except for Antarctica. Most recently, she joined the defense team challenging the sodomy conviction of former deputy prime minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim. “Originally, I went over for the money,” she admits. “Then I decided I’d represent foreigners. Then it became Afghan men. Then women. Then companies. Now it’s pretty much everyone else.”

Despite the fact that she’s speaking at a techno-centric conference, Motley admits that she doesn’t rely on technology all that much. “I travel to a lot of third-world countries, so I have to prepare for the possibility that there might not be internet access,” she says. “My office is where my backpack is.” Instead, she imagines that her speech will focus on how she established and grew her practice. “There was no playbook, no roadmap for me,” she says.

Conference-attendees will also hear from Newton, who plans to unveil several new offerings from Clio. The “Legal Trends Report” will extrapolate data from Clio’s users and deliver regular reports on things like how much lawyers are billing, what practice areas are growing, and what states have higher rates than others. “We’re able to leverage the activity of over 40,000 legal professionals on Clio to see certain patterns and trends,” says Newton, who emphasizes that they don’t have access to individual lawyers’ data because it is encrypted. “We’re like the guy that stands at the ticket gate, holding the clicker to see how many people are coming in. We provide benchmark data in order to help people make better decisions.” Newton believes the Legal Trends Report will fill a void when it comes to survey data, saying that many contain out-of-date information or are based on small sample sizes.

Clio also plans on unveiling a few new features for users, including greater automation capabilities for immigration and intellectual property lawyers. “Our goal is, always, to make Clio a more effortless experience for our customers,” says Newton, echoing the theme of last year’s Clio Cloud Conference. “With these product updates, we are continuing that commitment.”

Other speakers include Ken Adams, author of Manual of Style for Contract Drafting; Andrew Arruda, CEO and co-founder of Ross Intelligence; Sarah Glassmeyer, an attorney and librarian who was named one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels for 2016; Jules Miller, co-founder of Evolve Law; R. Amani Smathers, legal solutions architect at Davis Wright Tremaine, De Novo; and Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase.

And, if that’s too overwhelming for conferencegoers, there will also be a “health and well-being” room where they can take part in physical and mental activities designed to boost cognitive performance, as well as a movie theater where people can watch their favorite shows. “Our goal is for everyone to have a great time and to have fun,” says Newton. “Hopefully, we can keep people excited until next year’s conference.”

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