Lawyers Love The iPad?

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Trialpad for iPad

The incredibly broad and ever-increasing appeal of the iPad is an impressive thing to see. It started out as a big consumer hit and soon after it had huge traction in the enterprise. In the last couple of years we’ve seen it being used by local governments, businesses of all types, educational institutions ranging from K-12 all the way to blue-chip universities. It’s big in the healthcare arena too.

The legal profession is another area where it seems to be gaining momentum. David Sparks at MacSparky certainly noted a trend in his recent post titled iPad Lawyers:

I’m back from spending several days in Chicago for the American Bar Association’s annual TechShow conference. As always, I had a great time and met many readers and MPU listeners, which is kind of awesome.

While last year, the iPad was a novelty at the conference, this year it almost appeared to be standard issue. Almost everyone had one. During my talk about technology at trial, I looked out to a packed room and was able to count the number of open laptops on one hand. Just about everybody else was using an iPad.

I’ve seen other evidence (though perhaps not Here’s Exhibit A Your Honor level evidence) of this trend as well. My brother is a lawyer (and a damn fine one) and he won’t object if I mention that he’s generally a huge luddite. But he now uses a first-gen iPad and enjoys it a lot. I wouldn’t be shocked if he updates to a newer model soon. I have some other lawyer friends who I know use iPads and I’ve seen a number of commenters here mention that they’re in the legal profession as well.

It strikes me that the iPad offers a great combination of features for lawyers, who rely so heavily on information and documentation. A lightweight, portable, instant-on device that can pack an enormous amount of information and present it elegantly and efficiently, along with all its other myriad capabilities, should be a hugely useful tool I would think.

That’s my impression. I’d love to hear thoughts on this from any of you who are in the legal profession – please share in the comments.


Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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3 thoughts on “Lawyers Love The iPad?”

  1. I do a fair amount of consulting work for law firms and am increasingly seeing attorneys leveraging the iPad platform as a means to practice better law and better manage the practice. Many applications already in common use by law firms are offering iPad apps as a portal to office-based case files and administrative systems. There also is a growing collection of legal profession-specific applications that are seeking to supplant laptop computers in trial war-rooms and the courtroom. These are appealing, but often require changes in information technology policies or infrastructure to work properly — changes that many law firms are not yet prepared to make.

    However, the greatest appeal of the iPad for many of the attorneys I have spoken with is the opportunity to substitute the iPad as a unified communications device, a convenient means for light document editing and a means to organize, search and access voluminous documents without the need to cart around boxes and boxes of files. With a little creativity, attorneys have found ways to do this effectively with non industry-specific applications and without the need for their firms to support the platform officially.

    Unfortunately for many attorneys, the cost of the iPad and any associated accessories and data plans will be their own to bear as few firms seem ready to reimburse for these expenses. However, with the iPad appealing as a legal tool to even older, less technology-enthusiastic partners, reimbursement policies for iPads seem likely to change as time goes on.

    One other potential driver for more formal adoption and support of the platform by firms relates to compliance and security matters. Where the firm does not support use of the iPad by its attorneys, it often becomes necessary for the attorneys to forward e-mails and post documents via means that may not protect firm, client and matter data sufficiently. From a security perspective, this increases the potential for loss or misappropriation of that sensitive data. From a compliance perspective, this complicates being responsive to eDiscovery requests and could put the reputation and the assets of the firm at risk.

    The bottom line? iPads likely are too appealing and a powerful a platform for the legal profession for firms *not* to move towards adopting and supporting them. However, individual attorneys and firms alike should approach doing so as a strategic initiative rather than simply adding an incremental technology.

  2. I’m a lawyer and use my iPad frequently (posting this with my iPad right now), but until MS decides to put out an MS Office app the iPad just won’t match a laptop for work productivity. In a transactional practice I must have read/write track changes capability, and none of the existing document apps offer this feature. Many lawyers I’ve spoken to relayed the same frustration.

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