Welcome back, and we are going to continue the theme about using your practice management system (PMS) for more than just time and billing. In our last article, we talked about leveraging the calendar in Clio or in your PMS to schedule calendar events, sync to your Outlook, Microsoft 365, or Google Workspace account, as well as use that same calendar event to convert to a time entry. All of this will save you time.
Today, we will describe how you can utilize Clio’s custom field function or similar functions within your own PMS to customize your system specifically for your firm. Custom fields are an underutilized feature, but they are so powerful. They can add incredible value for capturing client and matter data in the one place.
Let’s talk about what custom fields are and how they can be used. Consider an estate planning law firm that is utilizing Clio. There are lots of little pieces of information that are initially stored everywhere. This information might be in a Word intake form sitting in the client’s folder either on a piece of paper or in an electronic form; they might be on sticky notes on someone’s desk; Or in someone’s email or worse, in their head.
To gather and store this firm specific information that you need to keep track of for a client or matter, Clio gives firms the option to create Custom Fields. Examples of some useful custom fields would include:
- Client’s (spouses or children’s) dates of birth
- Social security numbers
- Life insurance company and policy numbers
- Employment information
- Opposing Counsel
- Previous marriages
- Beneficiary information
- Description of the problem
- The list can go on and on.
Clio organizes their custom fields into two types – contact and matter custom fields. Contact custom fields include personal information with specific fields that are most pertinent to your firm and practice area. Some examples include social security number, dates of birth, children and other information that does not often change about the person. Matter custom fields include information specific to the matter including items such as bank account information, policy numbers, beneficiary information and other information that are specific to the issue that the firm is trying to solve for the client.
The custom fields in Clio are created under the Settings-Custom Fields area:
By creating and using the custom field functions within Clio, all that information can be gathered into one place. In Clio, there are a variety of types of custom fields that can be created depending on the type of information that you want to gather:
These custom field types allow a firm to gather information in a variety of formats including Yes/No, Dates, Email, Dropdown list, and Text in short or long form. For more information on the types of custom fields and how to use each of them, check out this Clio Help article here.
Custom field information can be gathered during the intake process, pushed from your Customer Relationship Management system, filled out by your client (Check out Clio Grow here!), synced with Clio or even inputted by your staff during the course of the matter. The important part is that all that information stays in one place and becomes your single source of record for anything to do with the client or that matter. No longer do you have to grab the paper file to find out that information because it is right at your fingertips in Clio.
Custom fields can also be grouped together with similar fields to create Custom Field Sets (click here for more information on creating custom field sets) that can be organized by practice area, by content of custom field and even can be mandatory when you are creating a matter in Clio. Many of our firms using Clio have hundreds of custom fields to help really customize Clio just for their firm.
But we are just getting started. By leveraging custom fields, firms can use that data they have gathered to create and populate documents. Check out the next post in this series when we talk about how to use the document assembly features in Clio to make document generation a snap!
Custom fields are a key piece to customizing your PMS for your firm. It is only to your benefit to have all of your client and matter information available to you anywhere – from court, to the beach, to your house and even in your office.
This function should be available in your practice management system and if it is not, you are missing out.
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