The Mobile Lawyer In 2017

These days, lawyers are increasingly incorporating technology into their law practices. However, even in 2017, not all lawyers fully embrace technology. But, interestingly enough, most lawyers nevertheless use mobile devices. It’s a peculiar dichotomy that has existed for years now.

Starting in the early 2000s, lawyers had the reputation for being “crackberry addicts,” and for good reason. Lawyers, especially large firm lawyers, seemed to be perpetually attached to their Blackberrys. In large part, the reason for Blackberry’ popularity with lawyers was 24/7 availability and access to emails.

When the iPhone was released in 2007, the gradual shift from Blackberrys to full-fledged smartphones began. The 24/7 access to information that lawyers enjoyed was amplified when smartphones were combined with the power of cloud computing. Using tools like legal practice management software, lawyers could now view more than just emails on their devices. Lawyers could also access documents, case-related information, client communications, and more. Mobile computing made it possible for lawyers to practice law from virtually anywhere, giving them more convenience and flexibility.

So it’s not surprising that according to the to the results from the American Bar Association’s latest Legal Technology Survey Report, mobile lawyering is more popular than ever in 2017.  Nearly all lawyers surveyed (94%) reported “regularly or occasionally using a mobile device for law- related tasks at home.” Interestingly lawyers’ use of mobile devices varied by practice area, with employment/labor lawyers leading the way at 87%, followed by intellectual property lawyers at 81%, and litigation attorneys at 80%.

Using mobile devices while in transit is also popular with lawyers, with 91% reporting that they do so. Of those lawyers, litigation attorneys were most likely to use mobile devices in transit at 44%, followed by intellectual property lawyers at 38% and commercial lawyers, also at 38%. Employment/labor lawyers followed closely behind at 37%.

Interestingly, mobile devices were the most popular computing device used by lawyers when in their office, with 70% using smartphones at work. 66% reported using desktop computers in their office, 51% used laptop computers, 25% used tablets, and less than 1% used e-readers. Solo attorneys were the most likely to use laptops at work, at 61%.

Lawyers use their smartphones while away from the office for a vast array of functions, with accessing email being one of the most popular at 89%. Accessing calendars and contacts follows closely at 75% and 73% respectively. Other popular functions include time and billing and expense tracking. Small firm lawyers were most likely to report using their smartphones for time and billing  (21%) and expense tracking (22%). Solo lawyers were close behind with 18% using their smartphones for time and billing and 20% using their smartphones for time tracking.

40% of lawyers reported downloading a legal-specific app to their smartphone with legal research apps being the most popular.  And that same percentage of lawyers, 40%, reported that they’d downloaded a general business app their smartphone as well, with document storage apps being the most popular.

iPhones continue to be the smartphone of choice for lawyers, with 73% of lawyers using iPhones, 23%  using Android phones, 3% using Blackberrys, and 2% preferring Windows Mobile.

When it comes to tablets, iPads are the most popular with attorneys at 84%. Android is next at 10%, followed by Windows Mobile at 5%, and Windows Surface at 1%.  Lawyers use their tablets when they’re not at work much like they do smartphones, although they tend to create documents more often using tablets. 93% use email, 50% access their calendar from their tablets, 42% view their contacts, 47% create documents, 21% track expenses, 20% use trial presentation apps, 23% use them for time and billing, and 22% for web conferencing.

Because mobile tools provide lawyers with so much flexibility, 78% of lawyers surveyed reported that they telecommuted from work within the last year, and 33% reported that they did so at least once per week. Solo and small firm lawyers were the most likely to work remotely at least once per week at 39% and 35% respectively.

Without a doubt, 21st century lawyers are increasingly mobile. Whether they’re using smartphones, tablets, or laptops, they’re able to work from anywhere, with easy access to all of their law firm’s important information. Lawyers can accomplish nearly anything on the road, especially if they’re using law practice management software, including tracking time and billing, calendars, contacts, documents and other case-related information, or communicating with clients using a secure client portal. Because lawyers have everything easily accessible on their mobile devices, they have more options than ever and can work remotely at anytime, day or night. In other words, with the convenience and flexibility offered by mobile computing, the sky’s the limit for lawyers in 2017!



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