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Morgan Smith

Why You Should Join the Growing Number of Attorneys Using iPads

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.


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