First let’s take a look at their listed features on each website’s self-labeled most popular. For PracticePanther this is the Business plan at $79 per user per month, billed annually (~$948). For CLIO this is the Elite plan at $99 per user per month, billed annually (~$1,188).
Here are their listed features. Let’s pick out any differences.
|Case Management||Case Management|
|Contact Management||Contact Management|
|Search, Option to Expand to Full Search||Full Text Search|
|Claims 256-bit military grade encryption, and a two factor authentication option||Industry-Leading Security, two factor authentication through Google Authenticator|
|Real-Time Notifications||Notification Bell|
|Custom Fields||Custom Fields|
|Daily Agenda Email|
|Custom Security Roles||User Permissions|
|Invoice Read Alerts|
|Document Templates||Advanced Document Automation|
|Task & Event Workflows||Advanced Document Automation|
|Automated Payment Reminders||Automated Bill Reminders|
|Intake Forms||Quick Document Automation|
|Recurring Payment Plans (must have Pantherpayments)||Payment Plans (must have lawpay)|
|Batch Time Entries, Expenses & Billing||Time & Expense Tracking|
|Calendar Rules||Advanced Tasks; Court Calendaring Rules|
|Trust Account Ledger & Reconciliation|
|Multiple Bank Accounts||Accounting|
|Check Printing||QuickBooks Online|
|UTMBS Coding & LEDES Billing||Advanced Billing|
|Flat Fee Reporting||Hourly & Flat Fee Billing|
|Quickbooks Online & PantherPayments||Clio Payments; QuickBooks Online|
|Dropbox, Box.com, & Mailchimp Sync||Unlimited Document Storage|
|Email & Calendar Sync||Legal Calendar; Google Suite Integration; Gmail Add-On; Microsoft 365 Business & Enterprise Integration; Outlook Add-In|
|Zapier & API||Third-Party Integrations|
|Live Trainings||On-demand Training; Tailored Live Training|
|Support||24/5 Support; Priority Technical Support|
|Data Migration||Data Migrations|
|Website Integration||Secure Client Portal|
|All-inOne App||Mobile Apps for iPhone, iPad & Android Devices|
|Attorney Revenue Report; Custom Reporting||Reporting; Advanced Reporting|
|Server Status Page shows similar uptime||99.9% Uptime Guarantee SLA|
I have sorted and matched up the offerings by feature as best as possible. Let’s first take a look at what PracticePanther has that CLIO doesn’t and try to determine if they are consequential or not.
- Internal Chat
- SMS Alerts
- Daily Agenda Email
- Invoice Read Alerts
- Trust Account Ledger & Reconciliation
Internal chat is a nice feature, but most VOIP phone services and email services like GSuite and Microsoft have their own versions of chat that a firm is probably already paying for, if not using. By offering it within the program, PP provides organization to the chats that may not exist with a third party.
SMS and Daily Agenda Alerts I would put in the same category of notifications I receive, read, and then ignore. More sources of push notifications generally can lead to having higher levels of noise and alerts to sort through without any clarity.
Invoice read alerts are a great feature and let you know when a client has viewed their outstanding balances. As far as I was able to find, CLIO does not have a version of this feature.
The last feature, Trust Account Ledger & Reconciliation, is a handy interface with a quickbooks account to perform some limited functions of the bank reconciliations within practice panther to create a 3-way trust reconciliation. This functionality requires an understanding of both the account software and Practice Panther. A knowledgeable book keeper can take advantage of these features. CLIO does not interact with Quickbooks in this way at all but this feature I consider to be fairly sophisticated and your accountant must be comfortable in both systems to make full use of this feature.
Now let’s take a look at the CLIO Only Features.
- Clio Launcher
- Firm Dashboard
- Matter Budgets
CLIO launcher is a nice feature and allows you to edit documents within the system instead of having to download, edit, and replace. This functionality may be replicated with one of the 3rd party cloud storage and document SAAS that is compatible with PracticePanther.
The Firm Dashboard in CLIO does have some nice productivity features and graphs and allows you to see utilization, realization, and collection rates over time for the firm. There is also a target billable hour metric for your own user login to keep track of daily, weekly, monthly, and annual billing targets. There aren’t a large amount of features, but they can be very helpful. One thing to note here is, if matters are shared outside the firm with another clio user, their time will be registered under the wrong user. This leads to some funky metrics where you have more billable hours than are actually possible and other distortions on the CLIO dashboards. PracticePanther has some custom reporting options and the ability to run certain reports but their metrics aren’t packaged as nicely and require some setup.
Matter budgets are a useful feature. This allows a matter to send out a notification when matter funds are expended past the threshold set in the system, including work in process. CLIO will notify whatever attorney or user is responsible for collecting more funds. This can be a powerful reminder to keep attorney fees covered by the advance fee deposits.
One big feature that isn’t mentioned in the feature list is CLIO has a standard field called “Practice Area” with a standard or recommended set of practice areas. PracticePanther handles this by using custom fields. The result is, this type of data structure isn’t as widely adopted in PracticePanther. Practice areas are a great way to view and prioritize what types of law are the most profitable for your practice.
Is there a free trial? PranticePanther has a free 30 day. CLIO offers only a 7 day free trial.
Overall, the biggest differences between CLIO and PracticePanther comes down to price and user experience. I wouldn’t label any feature from one or the other as a must have. Both are great practice management tools. However, some attorney’s love PracticePanther and hate CLIO and vice versa. In my opinion, they have a lot of the same features.
One of the biggest areas I didn’t cover was customer service. I have had very fine experiences with CLIO support and my experience with PracticePanther is too limited to form an opinion.