Jason Atchley : Legal Tech : Are Tablets Replacing Lawyers’ Laptops?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Jason Atchley : Legal Tech : A Tablet Revolution – Are Tablets Replacing Lawyers’ Laptops?

 

iPad rEvolution

Virtualization could be the key to lawyers abandoning their laptops for tablets.

Alan Cohen, Law Technology News

February 07, 2014, 03:46 PM    |0 Comments
 
Jay Waxenberg at desk.
Jay Waxenberg
Photograph by Maggie Soladay
Come April 3—a date ingrained in the memory of FedEx drivers everywhere—it will be four years since Apple’s iPad hit the market. In that time, lawyers in increasing numbers have come to embrace the tablet, and to a lesser extent similar devices based on Google Inc.’s Android and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows platforms. Their IT managers, skeptical at first about integrating “consumer” hardware into the enterprise, have largely come around, too. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is no longer an anomaly at major law firms, but a trend.
But how, exactly, are tablets being used? And what role should they play within firms? To be sure, the numbers point to a hot technology: 61 percent of firms responding to The American Lawyer’s 2013 technology survey reported that more than a quarter of their attorneys are now using tablets. Yet are most tablet-toting lawyers really doing core legal tasks on their iPads? Or are those uses restricted to a much smaller group of power users? In other words: Just how much lawyering do lawyers do with their tablets?
It’s a question of particular relevance now. Many firms put off their hardware refreshes during the recession, stretching out the lifespan of their desktop and laptop PCs. A fledgling recovery—or perhaps the inability to hold off those purchases any longer—has many thinking about their next round of equipment. Can tablets replace laptops? Should they? Or would it be the wrong move at the wrong time—and perhaps backfire miserably?
To gain some insight on these issues, we spoke with six law firms that have, to various degrees, embraced tablets. One of them—Proskauer Rose—began letting lawyers opt for a tablet and desktop, in lieu of a laptop, about two years ago. The others support tablets but leave it to the lawyers to buy and bring them in. All of these firms, however, are thinking hard about the place tablets should occupy in their technical infrastructure and their attorneys’ toolboxes. They’re asking the same questions we are, but it turns out they’ve identified some other key questions, too. Not all of these have easy answers. But as the firms discuss and debate them, the thinking, and the strategies, that are emerging may prove helpful for other firms looking for the right path—and the right role—for tablets.

ARE TABLETS REPLACING LAPTOPS?

We expected this to be the question that stirred things up. Talk to a vendor, attend a LegalTech show, or simply strike up a chat with a lawyer-turned-tablet-evangelist (and there are more than a few of those) and you’ll get the impression that tablets are “revolutionizing” the practice of law and putting laptops out to pasture. But ask a law firm technology manager what the bulk of their users are actually doing with tablets and you’ll likely get a very different answer.
“What I have seen is lawyers using iPads for email and document review,” says Philadelphia-based Lisa Mayo , director of data management at Ballard Spahr, which counts some 250 iPads in use by attorneys and staff. “They’re mainly reading and [doing] minor editing. They’re using annotation software, marking up a document and emailing it back to their secretary. Note-taking apps like Evernote are picking up in popularity. And they’re using Nuance Communications Inc.’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking for voice recognition.”
Power users ratchet things up—adding a keyboard for more intensive editing, even doing some discovery review or creating presentations for the courtroom. But their ranks are still fairly thin.
“We clearly have a few folks who want to see what they can actually get done on an iPad, who are willing to work at making their iPad an actual replacement for the desktop and laptop,” says Columbus, Ohio-based Brian Donato , CIO at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, where about 100 of the roughly 370 lawyers are using tablets. “But that is a small number. The most common use case is a person who optimizes [his or her] iPad to do the things they need most when they travel, like having a notebook of PDFs they can search and annotate.”
As one might expect for a device that’s more suited to presenting content than creating it, usage “intensity” varies with practice areas. Litigators, for example, tend to be content creators, drafting memos and arguments, and are still likely to need a laptop. “They need the full keyboard and the screen,” says Daniel Nottke, CIO at Kirkland and Ellis, where 1,000 of 1,500 lawyers presently use tablets. Even at Proskauer Rose, where some 80 percent of the firm’s lawyers have opted for the desktop and tablet configuration, according to Jay Waxenberg, a New York-based partner, chair of the personal planning department, and head of the firm’s technology committee.
Waxemberg says there’s still a laptop lifeline, in the form of loaner machines. Litigators, in particular, are availing themselves of it. “I’m not sure people are using [their tablet] as a replacement as much as using it as another tool that is a bit more portable,” says Waxenberg. “If you’re a litigator on trial, you might need to access thousands of deposition documents and use search engines that aren’t yet on the iPad.”

Read more: http://www.lawtechnologynews.com/id=1202642118072/iPad-rEvolution#ixzz2sk6P31Uf

 
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