Using Cloud-Based Law Practice Management Software in the Classroom

by Maggie Ambrose

Usually, I try to stay away from plugging a particular product, but I have to mention that incorporating Clio, a cloud-based law practice management software tool, into the classroom has been well worth the effort. This is not to say that Clio as a product is perfect or even that it is better than any other similar cloud-based software currently available on the market. Rather, it has been worth the effort in the sense that Clio can be obtained for free for the purposes of instruction in an academic institution, and it has proven to be useful in simulating a real world experience for students and as an interaction tool. This post is not a review of Clio as a product but is instead a review of how Clio and other similar software management tools can be used in the classroom.


Lawyer Fortune Cookie by slgckgc on flickr | CC BY 2.0

Benefits: Simulating a Real-World Experience

Most law students are hungry for a taste of what it will be like to be a practicing attorney. Students, and as a result standards in legal education, are pushing for and trending towards experiential instruction.

Simulating what it will be like for students to keep track of their time researching and writing with a eye towards billable hours can be a welcome addition in a advanced legal research course. Using a program like Clio gives students some exposure to logging and tracking their time using cloud-based software.

In addition, using a law practice software tool in a classroom setting also forces students to organize and structure their research and work in a way that can be shared with others. Until a certain point in their careers, students only need to be able to organize and save their work on their personal devices, platforms, and file systems in a way that makes sense to them. Using a cloud-based software program can help drive home information sharing and knowledge management principles in a way that is geared towards practicing law rather than studying the law.


Finger Mobile 8 by J E Theriot on flickr | CC BY 2.0


  1. Link to Clio’s Academic Access Program:
  2. Check with IT. Clio is a cloud-based program and you will want to take precautions to ensure you are not endangering or hindering your institution’s IT security policies.
  3. Nothing is for free. Although Clio can be obtained for free for academic purposes, Clio will send promotions to any student who signs up and try to hook the students who will one day be their customer base.
  4. Pick & choose. Decide early on which facets of Clio you want to use and which you want to ignore. Clio has many features, many of which are not suitable for academic purposes. Explore what is available and be selective when determining what to incorporate.
  5. Troubleshoot if used in multiple clinics/classrooms. Students who sign up for Clio with an email for one class, may have trouble signing up for another Clio account using the same email for another class, even if their account has been deactivated by the first class or clinic.  You will need to contact Clio to troubleshoot or have the student sign up for another account.
  6. International Students. If using Clio with international students, be sure to take a little extra time explaining billable hours and why time is logged and tracked.


About margaret.jane.ambrose

I work as a Access & Research Services Librarian at Cornell Law. I am also a Board Member of ALLUNY.
This entry was posted in Legal Research Instruction, Legal Technology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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