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Lawyers cast their verdict on the iPad 2

Lawyers cast their verdict on the iPad 2

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By Sylvia Hsieh
Lawyers USA

The second generation iPad has been on shelves for less than two weeks and lawyers are starting to submit their verdicts on it. So says the jury …

Guilty … pleasures, that is.

(Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)
(Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

The iPad 2 is thinner, lighter and faster than the original. On paper, the small difference in weight from 1.5 to 1.3 pounds may seem minor, but lawyers – at least those who have it glued to their arm most of the day – say size matters.

“I use my iPad as if I’m carrying a legal pad, so it makes a big difference,” said Brett Burney, founder of the legal technology consulting firm Burney Consulting in Cleveland, who blogs at

The iPad 2 is also thinner, down from a half an inch to 0.35 inches in thickness, making it feel even more like a legal pad.

Also helping shed weight is the new “smart cover” that attaches with magnetic hinges, rolls into a stand for the tablet and doesn’t add the bulk or weight of a traditional case.

“With the iPad you need something to protect the big piece of glass. The cases are nice but they basically double the thickness and add to the weight. The smart cover completely protects the front but is so incredibly thin that it’s basically nonexistent,” gushed Jeffrey Richardson, an attorney at Adams & Reese in New Orleans, who blogs at

The smart cover costs $39 for polyurethane or $69 for leather in assorted colors.

The faster 1.2GHz processor in combination with the latest iOS 4.3 software improves the response time from the original iPad. That slight bump-up in speed, for example, eliminates the lag time when marking up PDF documents with a stylus, said Richardson.

Another new feature is the ability to project what’s on your iPad onto an external monitor, projector or TV screen. In the past, this was only possible with certain apps like Keynote or iAnnotate.

Lawyers who want to make presentations from their iPad 2 can get full mirroring as well as high resolution on a digital screen using a new adapter Apple sells with a connector for high-definition screens.

Hung jury

Even with the new specs, some lawyers aren’t convinced it’s worth it to upgrade.

Daniel Friedlander, a land use attorney who snatched up the original iPad the first week it was on the market in April 2010 and tested it out in court hearings by the second week, has decided not to upgrade to the iPad 2.

He says that some of the new bells and whistles, like the super-speedy graphics and the front and back camera, are not legal-specific tools that justify spending the money.

“For a lawyer, unless you’re doing video conferencing, I don’t really think it’s beneficial to upgrade. … The (first generation) iPad is sufficient for what I use it for – research, writing, and browsing the Internet,” said Friedlander, an attorney at Jackson DeMarco Tidus & Peckenpaugh in Westlake Village, Calif.

Burney agrees that not every lawyer with an iPad needs to upgrade.

“I don’t know if size and speed alone would push everybody to upgrade. If somebody is using it constantly (or) if you complained about the iPad being too heavy, then, yes, the iPad 2 is a justifiable upgrade. … If you just pick it up nonchalantly, I’m not convinced it will make a big difference,” he said.


Burney added that if the iPad 2’s screen had been upgraded to the crisp, “hyper real” Retina display of the iPhone 4, he would have recommended the iPad 2 as a must-upgrade.

But Richardson says the improved performance is reason enough for him to line up and shell out for the new model.

“I’m definitely going to get one. The new features are enough to justify for an attorney, and it’s easier to justify spending $500-600 when it’s part of your practice. If you already have the iPad, you know how much you use it in your practice,” he said.

As a compromise, though, Richardson said he won’t purchase the 3G feature on the iPad 2 (an extra $130 on top of the base model price of $500). Instead, he will let his new tablet piggyback on his iPhone 4’s personal hotspot.

“I don’t want to be paying AT&T twice for a data connection. It’s a little bit inconvenient, but I think it’s worth (the savings),” said Richardson, who has been testing this set-up with his old iPad’s connection turned off and reports it has been working well.

Nolo contendere

For lawyers who don’t already own a tablet, it’s no contest that the iPad 2 is already way ahead of other tablets – at least for now.

RIMM announced on March 22 that its tablet, the highly-anticipated 4G Blackberry Playbook, will be available in stores on April 19 – a likely rival of the iPad for the attention of Blackberry-toting attorneys.

Other tablets, such as the Motorola Xoom, are already on the market, but lag behind in the number of apps for lawyers.

Even if 90 percent of iPad apps are junk, said Burney, that still leaves about 20,000 useful ones.

“That’s a crazy number of apps considering the iPad has only been on the market for less than a year now,” he said, adding that new legal apps are cropping up every day, including an app that allows lawyers to fill out PDF forms, such as workers’ comp forms or court-generated forms, on the iPad.

“It comes down to apps, and the iPad has such a big head-start. Even if the Playbook was released today, they have a lot of catching up to do. The iPad is already on its second generation,” said Burney.

Questions or comments can be directed to the writer at [email protected]


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