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Lawyers and mobile devices trending higher

Survey results show iPhones are now the norm

By Nicole Black
Dolan Media Newswires

Mobile_technology_350Of all the technology trends, lawyers have adapted to mobile devices the most readily.

Smartphone use has been on the rise for years now, tablets are increasingly being incorporated by lawyers and judges into their workflows, and wearable technology, such as smartwatches, will no doubt make inroads in the legal profession as well.

The results of two recent surveys confirm that lawyers continue to adopt mobile technologies into their practices, but the numbers stabilized somewhat this year.

First, according the American Bar Association’s 2014 Legal Technology Survey, the percentage of lawyers who reported using a smartphone in their practices remained the same as last year at 91 percent. According to the survey results, lawyers in large firms were the most likely to use a smartphone and solos were the least likely: 96 percent of lawyers in firms with 100 or more lawyers reported using a smartphone, as did 95 percent of lawyers in firms with 10 to 20 lawyers, 89 percent in firms with two to nine lawyers and 86 percent of solo attorneys.

Another interesting finding is that 66 percent of the lawyers who use smartphones prefer the iPhone. Of the remainder, 24 percent use an Android device, and the rest use either a BlackBerry, Windows phone or other device. Of those devices, 74 percent were owned by the attorneys and only 28 percent were purchased by their firm.

Lawyers report using their smartphones for a variety of uses: more than half use their devices to access the Internet, email, telephone, calendars, contacts and to send texts; 7 percent track expenses; and 4 percent create documents.

Tablet use by lawyers increased ever so slightly, according to the survey, up 1 percent to 49 percent in 2014. The number of iPads used by lawyers declined slightly in 2014, down from 91 percent in 2013 to 84 percent in 2014. The rest of the responding attorneys use Android tablets (10 percent), Windows tablets (6 percent), or another device (3 percent). More than 50 percent of lawyers report using their tablets to access the Internet, their calendars and contacts, 17 percent report using their tablets to create documents, and 10 percent use them to track expenses.

Many of these numbers comport with the findings of the 2014 ILTA and Inside Legal Annual Technology Purchasing Survey, which is sent out to 1,400 ILTA member law firms, with 20 percent of the firms responding.

Thirty-five percent of responding firms indicated they do not buy smartphones for their lawyers. Of those that do, iPhones were purchased by 63 percent, 39 percent bought Android, 28 percent bought BlackBerry, and 9 percent purchased Windows devices. Interestingly, according to the survey results from two years ago, 50 percent of firms at that time refused to purchase iPhones and now nearly all do; a statistic that is most definitely a sign of the times.

When it comes to tablets, 48 percent of responding firms indicated that they purchased them for their attorneys. Of those firms that purchased tablets, iPads lead the way at 44 percent. Microsoft Surface followed at 17 percent, Android was next at 10 percent, Windows 8 tablet at 6 percent, Kindle Fire at 2 percent, and BlackBerry Playbook at 1 percent. The remaining 52 percent of firms had either no support for tablet purchases or a BYOD policy in place.

Finally, when respondents were asked about the most exciting technologies or trends, the Internet of things, which includes artificial intelligence and wearables, came in as one of the top responses.

So next year, keep your eye out for the wearables, which are the next iteration of mobile technology. Given how lawyers quickly have embraced smartphones and other mobile tools, I have no doubt that wearables will be next.

Nicole Black is a director at MyCase.com, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is the author of the ABA book “Cloud Computing for Lawyers,” co-authors the ABA book “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier,” and co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a West-Thomson treatise.


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