Below is our law firm’s submission for the 2019 Reisman Awards
ClearWay Law is changing the legal industry by creating a virtual law firm where clients leave satisfied, receive quality service, at a price they can afford. Internally, we work to have our staff and lawyers organize their work to fit their lifestyle. If they want to work from home in their pajama’s, we support that. We can about the quality of our work, not where the work is done. We believe we are a good fit for the Reisman Awards because we are changing the legal industry.
Everything ClearWay Law does must benefit our clients first and then our lawyers/staff, shareholders and society. This is similar to past winners of the Reisman Awards. We understand our clients may be uncertain about whether the benefits of paying for legal advice will outweigh the costs. Most clients only need a lawyer a few times in their life and may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with how law firms operate. Meeting these clients where they are, in their home or a nearby location, can make things easier for the clients. We rent shared office space near clients work or home.
A New Law Firm Is Born
ClearWay Law began operations in July 2018, offering separation and divorce, mediation and arbitration, estate disputes, family agreements, self-representation coaching and general litigation services.
Our firm operates remotely to save our clients’ money by lowering our own expenses. Our goal is for clients to leave feeling satisfied they received just those services they needed, without financing costly overhead expenses. Big boardrooms and beautiful views project an image of success at traditional law firms. But average costs for a single leased office in Toronto can be $20,000 or more a month. At ClearWay, our legal team work from home, meeting family law clients where they live or, where the discussion allows it, in coffee shops.
We utilize office and boardroom space in Toronto, Scarborough and North York as we need it, again reducing operating costs and making our fees more affordable for clients accustomed to traditional bricks and mortar law firms. The average cost to ClearWay to rent an occasional meeting room in a co-working space is around $200 a month. This flexibility gives us the capacity to meet clients in locations around Ontario, using referrals to lawyers in each community to upsize as demand for our services increases. Since June 2018, we have expanded from one lawyer to eight.
2019 Reisman Awards
Remote working also saves our staff and lawyers money. The ClearWay Law team who support our Toronto-based lawyers work in cities across Canada, including Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Regina and the Greater Toronto Area. Our staff provide services that are time consuming for the legal team, at a fraction of the cost: booking client appointments, preparing and sending invoices, processing payments, networking to meet new referrals, providing marketing and communications and maintaining our website.
It’s great for the environment — less paper used and less C02 from cars — and a time saver and stress reducer for our lawyers and staff. Working from home enables staff and the legal team to have the work-life balance and lifestyle they want, while reducing the cost of living in pricey real estate markets like Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto. Remote work is an attractive option for skilled workers who may otherwise face grueling daily commutes to reach major urban centers where they cannot afford to live.
A Technology Law Firm
We believe we are a good fit for the Reisman Awards because we merge technology with client needs by being cloud based and paperless. Clients can book appointments online 24/7 and upload documents using a client portal seamlessly to our lawyers. They can also chat online with administrative staff and our legal team using an app. Cloud computing simplifies legal processes that traditionally could take days, allowing lawyers to spend more time discussing client problems and solutions. Clio enables our staff and lawyers to access records 24/7, anywhere they work, via their iPhone, laptop, iPad or home computer. The law firm’s that win the Reisman Awards must use leading edge technology.
It allows for integration between team and individual calendars, online records and accounting functions. It’s important for ClearWay Law to know our numbers — inquiries per week via Web or phone, number of contacts that turned into consultations and consultations into files, the cost of acquiring a client and average revenues per client. Cloud computing gives us this information. Clio further encourages efficiency by enabling lawyers to communicate through instant messaging and e-mail, without the loss of time to small talk typical in a physical office.
The software from Clio allows ClearWay to be more accurate in our reporting to client. Clio technology creates seamless communication between intake, lawyers, and our billing department. Clio Grow (CRM) allows us to stay on top of leads. Using a CRM is extremely important in family law as the sales process can be long (months.) Many people reach out to a family law firm before they are serious about getting divorced. Clio Grow helps us improve our conversion rates.
Using cloud-based technology also enables ClearWay to respond to client concerns about “over servicing” of their accounts to generate high legal fees that often exceed what the average client wants or can afford to pay. Our priority as family law practitioners and ADR practitioners is to keep clients out of the courtroom as much as possible. Our lawyers’ coach self-represented clients to keep their costs lower, while providing them with the skills they need to advocate for themselves in the courtroom or boardroom.
We offer flat fee billing for standard services, which our lawyers discuss with clients at their initial, one-hour consultation. ClearWay charges $100 for this initial meeting and encourages clients to upload documents to the Cloud or bring them with them to this meeting to ensure clients and lawyers remain focused on outcomes and not process. ADR is discussed as an option from the outset and we promote the most effective and least time-consuming way of reaching resolutions to family or wills and estates disputes. The first meeting culminates in a recommendation on how to move forward.
Our Toronto Law Firm
Providing updates to our clients is an important role for our lawyers. Our team listens carefully to clients’ concerns, creates a plan with them and follows through on that plan to ensure outcomes are efficient and effective. We keep clients informed as their file progresses to ensure they understand the services they are purchasing and fees they are paying. Knowing ahead of time what their costs will be helps our clients make decisions. If they cannot afford the suggested services or prefer to represent themselves, they can choose to be coached instead.
This can be an attractive option in lieu of paying for legal services and those clients generally enjoy a more personally satisfying outcome from interacting with a client-centered, virtual law firm. It ensures consumers can make a choice they can afford and understand that ClearWay Law is committed to helping them through their legal challenges. Using the Cloud and Clio ensures this client communication happens as efficiently as possible. Clio will be a big part of ClearWay’s ability to scale across Canada.
Please consider us for the 2019 Reisman Awards!