Jack Newton: CEO & Co-Founder, Clio
#BakersDozen is a series of interviews with leading professionals in the fields of law, consulting, finance, tech, and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in the legal business?
I’m a technology guy with a computer science master’s degree in machine learning. Back in 2007, my co-founder and I saw the impact the cloud was having, and we were looking for an industry that could benefit from its transformative influence. The legal industry jumped out as a great opportunity to do that.
What surprised us was how the legal industry, despite being a really huge space, really hadn’t been fundamentally transformed by technology like other industries. In many respects, legal hasn’t changed all that much in its 4,000-year history. We saw the cloud as a medium that could catalyze that transformation, and that was the genesis of the idea that led to Clio.
What we saw back in 2007 was that a huge portion of the market was made up of small-to-medium sized firms, but the majority of technology at the time was targeted at large firms. We saw the cloud as a great way to deliver even more advantages than what existed for the bigger firms, but to also make them accessible to small and medium-sized firms.
What has been your greatest success in the legal services field and what did you learn from it?
My greatest success is launching the first cloud-based practice management system in the world, ushering in the age of cloud computing for legal. The learning from that success was that, to enable that kind of change and transformation in an industry, you need to try and lead the narrative rather than be dragged along by it.
When we launched Clio in 2008, we quickly realized that the security and ethics of cloud computing for lawyers would be a fundamental issue for us to address, and to get ahead of—especially with the number of large, on-premise players sowing campaigns of fear, doubt, and uncertainty in the marketplace. We made a decision to quarterback education around cloud computing for lawyers: we wrote some of the first white papers on the implications for legal professionals, and I embarked on a national speaking circuit. I also founded the Legal Cloud Computing Association (LCCA). We’re still in the early days of the overall adoption cycle, but we’re certainly well-poised to see the majority of law firms embracing cloud computing confidently, with a clear mandate around security and ethics going forward.