The law practice management company Clio is expanding into Australia, where it will offer both of its signature products, Clio Manage and Clio Grow, and open an office and a data center to support customers there and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
“As we think about our mission to transform the legal experience for all, that’s an expansive and global mission where we want to bring our technology not just to North America, but to EMEA and to APAC and beyond,” Clio cofounder and CEO Jack Newton told me. “So we’re really excited to formally expand with an office and a team in Australia.”
As part of its expansion, Clio has hired Denise Farmer as general manager of the Asia-Pacific region. Farmer has worked in the legal technology field for 18 years, most recently as general manager of practitioner services at e-settlement services provider Sympli, and for nearly 16 years before that, at LexisNexis Pacific, where she was most recently executive director of the Small Enterprise Group.
Australia is a natural market for Clio to expand into for several reasons, Newton said, including that it is a Commonwealth country, like Clio’s native Canada, and also that it is a very tech-forward market.
“We see really great partners in the broader Australian legal community as we think about creating the next generation of Clio products and innovating on the next generation of Clio products — having a really passionate and a very technology forward set of legal professionals in Australia to partner with,” Newton said.
New Competition for LEAP
Clio’s expansion into Australia brings new competition to a market long dominated by LEAP, which is the largest practice management company in that country, where it was founded in 1992.
In an interview last year, Richard Hugo-Hamman, executive chairman of LEAP, told me that LEAP has 61,000 users globally, including in the U.S., and annual committed monthly revenue of over $172 million, making it one of the largest independent legal software companies in the world.
LEAP is owned by Christian Beck, the Australian investor and entrepreneur whose company, Australian Technology Innovators Pty Limited, also owns the legal technology company InfoTrack and the practice management company Smokeball.
But despite LEAP’s dominance in Australia, not ever customer is happy with it. Just last week on LinkedIn. a lawyer who is a LEAP customer published a post in which he implored, “Can anyone help me escape the clutches of LEAP ….pleaseeeee !!” He asserted that he was locked in to a three-year contract despite having cancelled during a six-month money-back trial period.
Newton said that, over the last six months, as Clio has been laying the foundations for its expansion there, the company has seen an an extremely positive reception.
“And that’s everyone from the end consumer, the legal professional, to the legal technology consultant network that exists in Australia and even to the regulators and the law societies in Australia,” he said. “So I think there is significant appetite and demand for Clio to come to the Australian market and we’re really excited to address that demand with our announcement today.”
Same Platform, Local Data Center
The platform Clio is offering in Australia will be virtually the same as what it offers in the United States, including both Clio Manage and Clio Grow.
That said, certain aspects of the platform, such as trust accounting and reporting, will be tailored to conform to the requirements of Australian practice and the regional law societies.
Also, Clio is opening a local data center so that customers’ data remains in Australia. This will also help deliver faster performance for Australian users.
At launch, Clio Payments will not be available, but Newton said he expects that feature to become available soon after launch.
Newton said that Clio already has customers in Australia and that he expects further growth to occur, at least in part, organically and through word of mouth.
However, to further accelerate growth there, he added, Clio is investing in local staff for sales, support and customer success who understand the dynamics of the local legal market and the needs of local lawyers.
“Denise’s leadership will really help provide a lot of context for this new team in terms of the unique aspects of the Australian market,” Newton said.
Clio has also hired local software engineers and developers in Australia to help in further tailoring and developing the product to meet the needs of the legal market there.
Pricing for Clio in Australia will be roughly in line with North American prices, the company said.
Clio’s new Australia office will become the base from which Clio will look to expand more broadly throughout APAC, Newton said.
The strategy will be similar to Clio’s use of its Dublin office, which it opened in 2013, as a base for its expansion in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.