If you had any lingering doubts about whether lawyers were acclimating to mobile computing, the results of both the American Bar Association’s most recent Legal Technology Survey and the 2014 ILTA and Inside Legal Annual Technology Purchasing Survey should put those doubts to rest. Lawyers are unquestionably adopting mobile technologies into their law practices at an incredibly fast pace, in large part because mobility offers lawyers increased flexibility and convenience.
For starters, the vast majority of lawyers now use smartphones, as Jeff Richardson of the iPhone J.D. blog recently reported, with 91% of lawyers surveyed for the ABA’s annual survey reporting the use of smartphones in their law practices. Consistent with last year’s results, iPhones continued to lead the way with 66% preferring iPhones, 24% using Android devices, and the remainder using either BlackBerrys, Windows phones, or other devices.
According to the survey results, tablet use is also on the rise, with 49% of lawyers reporting that they used tablets in their law practices. Of those lawyers, 84% reported using iPads, 10% used Android tablets, and the remainder used other devices.
Many lawyers indicated that they used their smartphones in a variety of ways designed to increase their efficiency. For example, more than half reported using their smartphones to access the Internet, email, telephone, calendars, contacts and to send texts. Another 7% used their smartphones to track expenses, and 4% used them to create documents.
The ways that lawyers used their tablets varied a bit from smartphone use, with more than 50% of lawyers reporting that they used their tablets to access the Internet, their calendars and contacts.17% used their tablets to create documents and another 10% used them to track expenses.
The results of the 2014 ILTA and Inside Legal Annual Technology Purchasing Survey included similar findings about the ways in which lawyers and their firms were using mobile technologies. The survey, which is sent out to 1,400 ILTA member law firms, included the results of approximately 20 percent of the firms that responded. Of those respondents, 35% reported that they purchased smartphones for their lawyers, with 63% buying iPhones, 39% buying Android, 28% buying BlackBerry, and 9% buying Windows devices. Of note, two years ago, 50% of firms refused to purchase iPhones and now nearly all that buy smartphones for their attorneys will purchase iPhones.
When it comes to tablets, 48 percent of responding firms reported purchasing them for their lawyers. iPads were the most popular at 44%, Microsoft Surface was next at 17%, Android was at 10%, Windows 8 tablet was at 6%, Kindle Fire was at 2%, and BlackBerry Playbook was at 1%.
Now that most lawyers are using smartphones and increasingly adopting tablets into their law practices, mobile apps are more popular than ever before, as Bob Ambrogi reported at LawSites. According to the ABA 2014 Legal Technology Survey, the most popular legal app was Fastcase, with WestlawNext coming in at a close second.
Without further ado, here are the top legal-specific apps most downloaded by lawyers:
- Fastcase 36.5%
- WestlawNext, 33.7%.
- Legal Dictionary App, 22.1%.
- Lexis Advance, 14.1%.
- TrialPad, 8.3%.
- Courtlink, 6.7%.
- LexisNexis Legal News, 6.4%.
- LexisNexis Get Cases & Shepardize, 6.1%.
- Westlaw News, 4.2%.
- TranscriptPad, 3.8%.
- HeinOnline, 2.9%.
- Federal Courts, 2.9%.
- Casemaker, 2.2%.
- Other, 28.5%
When it came to business apps, LinkedIn lead the way, but Dropbox followed closely behind. The most interesting aspect of the results about the uptick in the use of business apps by lawyers was how marked the increase was from last year, when Dropbox came in first with only 15.2% of lawyers reporting that they’d downloaded it. This year, 65.8% of respondents indicated that they’d downloaded Dropbox representing a 50% increase in just one year!
That means that as I predicted in 2011, 2013 was undoubtedly the year that lawyers moved to the cloud en masse, given how many lawyers are now using Dropbox compared to prior years. And of course, it was also the year that lawyers went mobile, as shown by the sheer numbers who now use the business apps listed below:
- LinkedIn 68.3%
- Dropbox 65.3%
- Evernote, 38.1%.
- DocsToGo, 20.8%.
- GoodReader, 19.9%.
- QuickOffice, 17.8%.
- LogMeIn, 15.1%.
- Box, 8.5%.
- Notability, 6.9%.
- Other, 16.3%.
So there you have it: proof that lawyers are indeed adopting to technology changes–and quickly. Lawyers are going mobile and moving to the cloud at rates never before seen, in large part because of the advantages offered by these tools. The mobility, affordability, and convenience of mobile and cloud computing cannot be denied and lawyers are wisely taking advantage of these 21st century tools.
And mark my words, wearables are next–especially now that Apple has announced the release of the Apple Watch next year. Smartwatches will lead the way in the legal field, in large part due to how tightly they will integrate with smartphones, but other types of wearables, such as Google Glass, will increase in popularity on the tails of rapid adoption of smartwatches. So keep your eyes and ears open and start thinking about how you might use the next generation of mobile–wearables–in your law practice.