What Was the Second Line at ClioCloud9?

It’s Thursday evening in New Orleans, Oct 4, halfway through the Clio Cloud Conference. Following Jack Newton’s opening keynote it’s easy to tell we’re on the front lines of legal tech. Some solid intel :

  • Lexicata and Clio GrowLos Angeles-based Lexicata — a client intake and CRM tool that’s optimized to work as an integration with Clio — has been acquired by the ambitious British Columbia-based legal tech company and conference host. The move effectively grows the practice management tool beyond its base fitness to deal with active client files and practice management (time keeping, document management, billing, calendaring, trust accounting), into the realm of what Sales Force can do. The newly minted Clio Grow is part of “a more comprehensive multi-product suite focused on the full client experience”. This is a coup for Lexicata, and a blow to other players like Client Sherpa and Lawmatics, whose products also emphasize intake and which also integrate with Clio.
  • 2018 Legal Trends Report:  Not to be confused with the ABA’s 700 page Legal Technology Survey Report, the (freely available for download) report from Clio uses actual usage data (aggregated and anonymized) from Clio’s US users in addition to lawyer and client surveys. This is the real hive-mind low down. What lawyers actually charge, why and when they discount bills, how clients want to communicate, why people avoid lawyers, and interestingly/sadly where lawyers sit on the Net Promoter Score scale in relation to other industries (hint: worse than banks and airlines, and a tad better than credit card companies).

The First Line

So yes, #ClioCloud9 is all about legal tech trends. Attendees tend to be lawyers solving real business problems with Clio. Numerous tracks relate to integrations, working efficiently with your mobile apps, automating processes and workflows, digital sales and marketing, legal accounting, security, future of law workshops, and what I like to call the ABCs of legaltech futurism (AI, blockchain, chatbots).

But there’s an undercurrent of something else at the Clio Conference. There are sessions on health and stress, social impact, inspiration and curiosity, and designing a more equitable profession. There are morning runs, yoga wellness meets, and a room with seven (yes, seven) human-actual massage therapists available for any and all attendees throughout the conference days. And that brings tom mind something else: the “second line” of the conference. That part that has nothing inherently at all to do with legal tech palaver.

The Second Line of ClioCloud9

Back to Thursday evening. Twilight is swift this far south, at least for Canadians acclimatized to October’s usual lingering dusk. Of the 1,500 attendees registered at #ClioCloud9, several hundred muster outside the cleanly Hyatt Regency. Some are dressed right for this heat, not the sterile AC inside. The plastic tambourines, set to strobe erratically in many colours, mostly purple, will soon provide the abundance of light. A half dozen police wait astride motorcycles further up the curb ahead, their red and blue light effects beckoning dominantly in the darkening street. They will be our escort from the hotel, down and around the street, and over to an after dark party at the Civic Theatre a short, winding distance away.

There are few percussive prodigies among us, but a gameness nonetheless pervades as the snares and horns kick up. A brass band is the “main line” of a New Orleans parade. Those who follow it are known as the “second line”. The police motorcycles rattle off to take position and close off our parade route. Blinky tambourines erupt, in and out of time to the raucus music, and wave in distraction as the band dances us off onto Loyola Ave. I’m going to say this kind of thing is a first for most of us tonight’s, which is a mob of lawyers, legal tech consultants, conference vendors, and Clio team members making up the second line.  

And that’s the metaphor for this conference, really. A second line behind the legal tech band. A human wellness, social justice driven one that’s represented in the non-tech, non-business sessions listed earlier, and typified by what happens on the last day of the conference. When Bryan Stevenson speaks.

The beautiful, agonizing, inescapable mercy, plus strength and feeling, of this man. I am so proud that a legal tech conference would close on such a message as he offered. I have no words, but I’ll crib some from a report I found over here by someone who also saw Bryan Stevenson speak once:

“Bryan A. Stevenson is a lawyer, social justice activist and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) which is a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners and others who may have been denied a fair trial. He has gained national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system, and pushing for reform in the administrating of criminal justice.

In describing his work and efforts to change institutional bias and the institutions themselves, Bryan described four key factors that have helped him succeed in tackling daunting challenges and overcoming them.

Proximity – If you want to tackle a challenge or opportunity and conquer it, you need to live inside and become intimate with it. You need to make it personal. Bryan’s term for this was Proximity, a Latin word which literally means nearness in place, time, order, occurrence or

Narrative — In addition to a proximate relationship, you need a story. Supported by fact and finesse, you need to craft the content and storyline that compels change and commitment. And stick to it!

Hope–- Every challenge or opportunity requires persistency in the face of obstacles and disappointments. Hope is the greater equalizer that keeps those that want to change their world on the path to do so.

Discomfort — Change also requires being comfortable with the uncomfortable, embracing discomfort as a norm and an expected part of the experience.”

I will not be diving immediately into the tech books I encountered at this year’s ClioCloud9. But I am seeking out a copy of Just Mercy, and looking for the second line.


– Find Nate Russell on Twitter

Comments are closed.