A New Paradigm in Technology Conferences
At the end of September, I had the opportunity to attend the first ever Clio Cloud Conference, now known as ClioCon, in beautiful downtown Chicago.
As with everything Clio does, this conference was over the top. From a fantastic venue and incredible food to excellent speakers and an extraordinarily engaged audience, Clio’s first appearance in the conference arena should have other conferences looking to see what they did and how to replicate it.
Many would consider this conference a typical User’s Conference with its direct focus on one product, but this conference was not typical. It focused not only on Clio the product, but on cloud computing as well. It also talked about where legal technology is going from here, which is a topic sorely missing from many of today’s legal technology conferences.
Day One of the conference brought an amazing group of cloud enthusiasts to the room. From the founder of FastCase (Ed Walters) and Lawsites (Robert Ambrogi) to the author of the Lawyerist (Sam Glover) and MyShingle blogs (Carolyn Elefant), the speakers and audience were top notch.
Jack Newton, Co-Founder of Clio, started out the conference with a history of the five years of Clio, the upstart in the legal cloud computing community. It was quite interesting to see their development through their short five years. Jack ended with the announcement of a release of their long-awaited iPhone app, something that Clio users have been clamoring for since their inception.
Just a quick note on the app – the wait was worth it. It has a great interface and slick look and feel. Unlike some cloud apps that only provide partial functionality, this one seems to have most of what you would want.
After the buzz of the release of the iPhone app, the conference continued with three tracks for attendees to choose from. The conference’s first track included four different topic areas conducted by cloud computing thought leaders over the course of the two days including:
- Practicing in the Cloud
- Extending Clio with Integrations
- The Future of Law
- The Future of Legal Technology
The second track, Clio University, gave attendees the ability to extend their knowledge about the specific product beyond what they knew. Attendees had the opportunity to learn everything they wanted to know about Clio from the basics through client collaboration and integration with other products. The Clio University sessions were well attended and taught by the same folks that answer the phone calls when you call support. While some of the sessions were a bit elementary, like Accounting 101, most expanded the knowledge base of most users’ experience with Clio.
Part of what made this conference different was the third track. Clio, ever the innovator, included an “Unconference” track. This track allowed attendees to interact directly with Clio developers for ideas and future innovations. Attendees could share ideas, explore new features in development and talk with developers on how to extend Clio to fit their needs.
But one thing really made an impression – The Sticky Wall.
The conference included a wall of sticky notes to allow the attendees the opportunity to directly complement and criticize Clio and its works. These items included the things they like about Clio, improvements they would like to see, as well as a wish list of items and fixes that they would like Clio address.
The extraordinary thing about The Wall was that Clio took some of the “low hanging fruit” and fixed these problems overnight from Day 1 to Day 2. Clio has always been very responsive to customers’ needs in the past but this was above and beyond. With the developers on site, problems were solved.
If the answers to the attendees’ questions weren’t in the sessions, they were to be found in Clio’s Smart Bar. Jack Newton said “We are too humble to be called Genius. We’re Canadian.”
The speakers continued the conversation and had us looking forward into the future of legal technology. The Keynote sessions came from Doug Edmunds from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Ed Walters of FastCase who engaged the audience about the future of legal education and technology and how we got to where we are today, while Andy Daws of the firm Riverview Law in the UK showed us where firms might be heading.
In my opinion, the entire Clio staff should receive high marks for their efforts. From the buzz they created before the opening remarks to their accommodating nature, they were “all in” for this conference. They taught the classes and the developers sat with us at lunch. The staff was encouraged to interact with the attendees and they did. It is rare for staff to actually meet customers and receive positive feedback for their work. More companies should get the developers from behind the keyboard.
As a long time attendee of tech conferences, I was pleased to see a tech savvy, engaged and informed audience. The attendees were looking for something more than what typical legal tech conferences have offered in the past and they got it. I certainly did!
Clio has set the standard for legal conferences with an excellent quality and caliber for the future. They are planning a conference next year, and attendance will be limited as it was this year to about 400 attendees, so book early. This conference, with the buzz it created (it trended on Twitter) will not be open for long. Hope to see you there!