Why You Should Join the Growing Number of Attorneys Using iPads

 In Legal Graphics, Tools and Tech

I’ve been giving a number of presentations at law firms on the use of iPads for attorneys, with a focus on new apps for the courtroom and mediation. I generally start the presentation by asking how many attorneys own an iPad, with about one-third saying they do. Of that group, many say it’s mostly used by their kids for games, and they have not really started using it much for work. Part of the issue, say the attorneys, is that the IT people in their offices say either that an iPad cannot be supported by their network, or more simply (and perhaps honestly) that the IT people don’t really know how to support the iPad.

With this background, I found the comprehensive study released by the ABA on attorneys’ use of technology very interesting. Kevin O’Keefe summarized the study done by Jeff Richardson as follows:

  • In 2012, 33% of all attorneys report using a tablet for law-related tasks (more than double the 15% in 2011)
  • 91% of the 33%, or 30% of all attorneys, are using an iPad

Lawyers are embracing the iPad for many of the same reasons people of other professions are: to perform simple day-to-day tasks.

  • 80% regularly use an iPad to read email and use the Internet
  • Over 50% regularly use their iPads to work with their contacts and calendars
  • Roughly a third use iPad research apps
  • 21% of lawyers regularly create documents with their iPads, 29% do so occasionally

This study is in line with what I have found in my unscientific polling at presentations (which is probably skewed toward those who do not use it for work yet, which is why they are attending the presentation!).

I dare say that never has a product like the iPad exploded on the scene and developed such a huge attorney following in two short years. However, since the technology is still so new, app writers are just now releasing some really good apps for attorneys (see my previous blog post on suggested apps and my post on e-briefs for the iPad).

The iPad’s most powerful aspect is being able to have all of your case information and documents in one easy place to find for yourself (as the attorney) and to present to anyone like a mediator or juror. This allows real-time, instant visualization of a case from the documents, to the photographs, to the graphics and animations—all seamlessly.

In light of the ease of use and wide availability of good programs being developed for the iPad, I am firmly of the opinion that it (and perhaps its Google counterpart the Nexus 7) will continue to expand greatly in the legal field. Attorneys can take control of the devices from their kids, and start using them for the office, mediation and trial.

I had the pleasure last week of helping out an attorney friend of mine who picked up a trial that started Monday. I got a call on Friday asking about using the iPad for trial. The attorney mentioned that he had the first generation model, which I told him will not project wirelessly. As a favor, I ran by the store, picked up what he would need for presenting wirelessly (outlined in my prior post), went over to his office and set it all up. He was excited, and I cannot wait to hear how it all goes. My bet is that an iPad will be part of his trial plan (in varying forms) for all future cases and trials. Once you get used to it, the iPad is really convenient, intuitive and helpful.

As you can probably tell from this post, I genuinely enjoy showing attorneys how to optimize their iPads for use in case presentations and law practice management. If you’d like more details, I’m happy to make a presentation at your firm (just contact me). You can find additional info in this article I recently wrote for The Recorder legal newspaper, on iPads at Trial.

I’d be curious about attorneys’ experiences with using the iPad at work—its limitations as well as its benefits—if anyone would like to share in the comments below.


Showing 8 comments
  • Remy C.

    A employee of the Greenwich Apple store told me today that only Generation One iPads are allowed in the court room, that only generation 1 have been approved, and that Gen 1 used are now coveted by lawyers for that purpose. Is that true? Because I’m trying to sell mine. Apple no longer updates Gen 1 operating software, so little by little, less and less things works on the Gen 1. But if a lawyer can put my old Gen 1 iPad to good use, make me an offer! – See more at: http://epcasebook.com/putting-the-ipad-to-work/#sthash.8Z3Neya8.dpuf

  • Sharon Sipes

    I use the new iPad every week day as a public defender for parents in child welfare proceedings. I create folders in NOTABILITY for each client hearing for the day and include pdf’s of the last order or any other document I might need. I created a PDF ‘form’ for hearing notes. After each hearing, I simply email the note to my secretary to be filed in the clients digital file or to begin any task I want her to do as a result of the hearing. If my client has email, I also email them a copy of the note to remind them of the proceeding.

    I do have a second ipad 2 to use during trial. On one iPad I use TrialPad for organizing witnessess and documents to be used with each one. I can also project from that iPad when appropriate. I use my other iPad for taking my notes or quickly looking up a statute, case law, or anything else I might want to research on the fly. I have our statutes, court rules, rules of evidence, etc. on the iPad as well. I almost exclusively use hand written notes on the iPad which has replaced a legal pad.

    I use my iPad with Skype for mediations with clients who are out of state or to have them present during hearings. When consulting with clients in the office, I use the iPad, with Apple tv and a monitor, to review discovery with them.

    So far, I haven’t come across anything I need to accomplish during hearings, trial, mediations, or consultations, that I can’t get done with my iPad. I’m a fan.

  • Carrie Smith

    Appreciated your post about the iPad. What are your thoughts on the security of DropBox? I’ve heard conflicting reports whether it is appropriate to put confidential client information on DropBox. Thanks.


    • Morgan Smith

      Some have concerns about the security of Dropbox, which I believe is that the folks at DropBox itself could have a key that would allow them to unscramble user’s data. I don’t know how serious this is, but my office does use Box.net, which is a competitor that tout’s much stronger security. I honestly think either are fine, especially for trial exhibits that are going to be public shortly anyways. Thanks for the question.

  • Justine

    Thanks to a growth of business/ productivity Apple apps, iPad has become a new professional device!

    In business/productivity app, I’d like to recommend a great one which integrated an interesting concept; saving time from your notes. This app, Beesy, generates automatically ToDo lists from a smart note taking. Also, the advantage is you can easily generate professional minutes from your notes and send them by email. Besides, you can browse your ToDo by actions,projects or people. You save a lot of time at meetings.

    I strongly recommend Beesy for people which often have meetings and want to appreciate them again 😉


    Great post,


  • Gene

    Did you see this post yet? http://www.thelegaldepot.com/must-have-ipad-apps-for-lawyers Looks like there are at least 5 great apps for lawyers on ipads.

  • Thomas Curcio

    Thank you for the blog. I am planning on purchasing IPads for my assoicate and I to use use for trial and mediations. More and more of my colleagues are doing so. Currently, my office computer and laptops all run Microsoft and a series of LexisNexis case management software. Will an IPad work smoothly with none Mac programs? Thanks. Tom.

    • Morgan Smith


      It really depends on the program. If you’re talking about Word documents, they can be opened in the Mac App Pages without any problem and Excel documents open and work in the Mac App Numbers. You can also save in the Microsoft format with either of these programs. You should also checkout the onlive app that allows you to run any microsoft office program (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc) on an iPad. Although you must have an internet connection for it to work since a remote server does all the actual computing and work.

      You should also definitely try Dropbox if you have not already, since it allows for easy transfer of documents between the PC and iPad. Anything in your Dropbox is available on both your iPad and PC and can be modified and saved with the above programs. Well worth checking out.

      Thanks for the comment.


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