If anyone ever mentions the origin of the law firm management giant Clio’s name, they will tell you about Clio, the muse of history. Daughter of Zeus provides an apt namesake for a platform that helps lawyers track end-to-end case history. A bit of Greek mythology still ranks the seal.
This is also a retcon. The muse story might sound great, but Clio CEO Jack Newton told me at this week’s Clio Cloud conference that the name started out as a temporary placeholder, a portmanteau of “Client Organizer.” that no one really liked at first.
Over a long enough period, mythology can replace reality. Sometimes it obscures the truth, other times it takes on a life of its own and becomes truer than the truth as it replaces the foundation and stimulates future growth. Is Clio defined by the amalgamation of the notions of “customer” and “organization” or a nod to the classic majors? Both stories bring something to the table, but the first reads much more like a marketing pitch than a philosophy and whatever one thinks of the Clio Cloud Conference, it is a vision.
Or it would be if you could find the show. Nestled in the Nashville Gaylord Hotel for the first of a two-year span, ClioCon had to deal with a hotel whose architecture only makes sense if it’s designed to hasten the return of Gozer the Gozerian. It took me two days to find a barely marked door that took me to the second floor of my wing of the hotel. Though it’s built in a maze, the signage is paramount — as if the hotel itself faced a tight, court-assigned word limit and simply had to give up valuable direction.
Speaking of names, unlike the origin of Clio’s name, “Nashville” is a misleading and inappropriate name to give to this hotel. More than 10 miles from present-day town, the Gaylord is a sterile Cinnabon delivery device under a glass roof.
But I digress. The thing is, Clio’s annual event is once again all about the vision. I said of past iterations of this talk that Clio manages to string together an eclectic – and not always legal – set of speakers and by the end of the show, you feel like “hm…that South American poet is really about small law firm leadership!The keynote talked about “Antifragility” and framing a law firm around client engagement and satisfaction. Author Priya Parker talked about making meetings memorable Psychologist Robert Cialdini talked about influence…bringing us back to how lawyers communicate with their clients Former Acting SG and current Hogan Lovells partner Neal Katyal , gave the speech that seemed to fit the least with the theme, captivating the crowd with a speech to the Supreme Court But if you paid attention, he talked about building genuine trust with a client and how which he grew up as a communicator and n adopting the lessons of dramatic arts and improvisation.
Either way, the show presented a consistent theme and that theme was that the economic headwinds ahead will be overcome by lawyers who distinguish themselves by truly connecting with their clients through effective communication.
Newton told me that the guiding principle of the conference was to deliver content tailored to what customers are saying, either directly or indirectly through anonymized usage patterns. Are users in build mode? A panel by Kristin Tyler of Lawclerk titled “Hire for Success: Best Practices for Growing Your Team”. Questions about court transformation after the pandemic? A panel with Justice Scott Schlegel on “Innovation in the Courts”.
But it is clear that the Gaylord is a confusing labyrinth in contradiction to an event that thrives on networking and the exchange of ideas. As Bob Ambrogi said:
In its early years, ClioCon was at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Chicago, where the venue was intimate and had a number of nooks and crannies where people could sit and chat. Even though the conference has grown over the years to reach some 2,000 people in San Diego in 2019, I was impressed that Clio was somehow able to maintain that sense of intimacy.
Perhaps the loss of that intimacy is an inevitable price of success. Even as other conferences struggle to replenish attendance in the wake of COVID, this year’s ClioCon was the largest ever, with 2,000 attendees onsite and another 1,000 attendees virtually from around the world. With so many people, it will always be difficult to find a place to network, but the Gaylord seems determined to discourage it.
The growth of Clio definitely changes the conference. But if we can go back to the mythology a bit, maybe the intimacy of past conventions wasn’t really a big deal. Ten years ago, solos and small law firms adopting technology for the first time came together to celebrate being pioneers. The same group – plus a growing number of medium-sized companies – is now mainstream. Perhaps the event was never about networking at a more intimate conference and always about meeting businesses where they are. And the truth is, businesses don’t need to be held hands or praised for embracing technology these days, they now need to know where it fits into their customer relationships and that will always change the world. orientation of a conference.
Or maybe I invented a new myth that will be debunked in an article next year. What I know for sure is that if you are planning to attend for the first time next year – plan to add your perspective to build the mythology around this event – don’t ask me for directions , because I still don’t know how to move the place.
Joe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email tips, questions or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.