Small Firm Lawyers in 2019:
More Mobile Than Ever

Since the release of the iPhone in 2007, lawyers have been increasingly mobile. This is because when mobile tools are used with cloud computing software, lawyers have the flexibility of accessing law firm data no matter where they happen to be. When law firm case files are accessible from a mobile device, lawyers are no longer confined to their law offices and are able to practice law from just about anywhere.

Because mobile tools provide lawyers with so much convenience, it should come as no surprise that in 2019, lawyers are more mobile than ever before. For evidence of this fact, you need look no further than the results of the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey. In it, there are lots of interesting, insightful, and sometimes surprising statistics about lawyers’ use of mobile tools. So without further ado, let’s dive in and take a look at how lawyers are using mobile tools as part of their day-to-day practices.

Mobile devices used by lawyers

It used to be that desktop computers were the norm in law firms. But these days, lawyers are increasingly seeking to use a more mobile option: laptop computers. In fact, according to the Report, while the primary computer used for work-related purposes continues to be a desktop computer, with 59% of respondents reporting that’s the case, 38% now use laptops as their primary computer. Interestingly, large firm lawyers are the most likely to use laptops as their primary computer, with 55% of lawyers from firms with 500+ lawyers reporting that they did so in 2018. In close second were lawyers at firms with 100-199 lawyers at 51%.

Lawyers also report using tablets more often for law-related purposes. The iPad was the most commonly used, at 77%, followed by the Microsoft Surface (22%), and then the Samsung Galaxy (5.7%). Most lawyers owned the tablet that they used (83%), while 19% reported that their tablet was owned by their firm. Nearly half of all lawyers – 49% – reported that they used their tablet for law-related purposes while away from the office.

Lawyers quickly adopted simple cell phones into their practices in the 90s, so of course lawyers love the significantly more advanced cousins of cell phones, too. So much so that a whopping 95% reported that they use their smartphones outside of the office for law-related purposes. The vast majority of lawyers own their own smartphone (87%), and 15% report that they use a phone owned by their firm.

The most popular type of phone used by lawyers was iPhones, with 72% preferring it. Androids were next at 27%, followed by Blackberrys (2%) and then Windows Mobile (1%). Notably, despite the prominence of iPhone use by lawyers, 43% of lawyers surveyed reported that their firms supported multiple platforms for smartphones, rather than just one type of smartphone.

How lawyers use their mobile devices

Lawyers use their mobile devices in many different ways, depending on both the device and their reason for using it. But regardless of why or how they’re using them, mobile devices provide lawyers with much-needed convenience and flexibility.

Let’s start with smartphones. 82% of lawyers surveyed reported that they used their smartphones every day for work-related purposes while outside of their primary workplace. 11% used them a few times per week, 4% used them a few times per month, and only 4% reported using them outside for the office for work purposes rarely or never.

Since fewer lawyers use tablets overall, it’s not surprising that fewer lawyers use them outside of the office for work-related reasons. 27% report using tablets every day, 31%use them a few times each week, 23% use them a few times each month, and 18% rarely use them.

50% of lawyers have downloaded a legal-specific app to their smartphone, with legal research apps being the most popular. Similarly, 50% of lawyer have downloaded a general business app to their smartphone. Dropbox was the most popular, with 77% of lawyers reporting that they’d downloaded it. LinkedIn was next at 63%, followed by Evernote (37%), LogMeIn (15%), and DocsToGo (14%).

One of the top ways that lawyers use their mobile devices is for telecommuting purposes. Notably, the majority of lawyers surveyed, 72%, reported that they telecommuted, with lawyers from larger firms being the most likely to do so. 100% of lawyers from firms of 500+ lawyers shared that they telecommuted, followed by 90% of lawyers from firms of 50-499 lawyers, 70% of lawyers from firms with 10-49 lawyers, 69% of lawyer from firms of 2-9 lawyers, and 66% of solos.

Finally, as voice-enabled apps become more commonplace, they are increasing in popularity with lawyers. 17% of lawyers report using them regularly, 19% use them occasionally, 32% seldom use them, and 32% never use them.

Does your firm support mobile device use? How does your mobile device use compare? Are you more or less mobile than your fellow lawyers?

If you’d like to learn more about using your mobile devices as efficiently and effectively as possible, make sure to check out this webinar recording: Top 10 Apps for Lawyers.

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