When I first began contemplating this article last year, the idea was "The iPad a Year Later: How Are Attorneys Really Using Them?" Of course, the iPad has been on the market for two years now, but let's just say that I'm glad I didn't try to get a head start by writing this article in advance. The iPad landscape has changed so much in the last year; it's hard to believe that it's such a young platform because it has evolved and matured quickly, and law firms, corporate America, and consumers alike have adopted it in droves.
Here are a few quick statistics I've uncovered.
|In roughly two years, there have been three significant iPad releases: the original iPad on March 12, 2010; the iPad 2 on March 2, 2011; and the new iPad March 7 2010. (Wikipedia 2012)i|
As of the end of 2011, Apple had sold an estimated 55 million iPads, and they are estimating they could sell as many as 65.6 million in 2012. (Gustin 2012)ii
Of course, the devices themselves are only part of the equation. The available apps also add to the power of the platform. As of April, there were reportedly more than 600,000 apps available in the App Store (Kingsley-Hughes 2012)iii and in March, Apple reached yet another milestone: the 25 billionth app was downloaded. (Murphy 2012)iv
The iPad quickly overcame the initial skepticism that pegged it as nothing more than a toy, a fad, or a gadget. Of course, you can use it as a toy, a gadget, an eReader, a high-def media player, a camera, a music player, a video recorder you get the idea but it's obvious that it's all that and more. Within the first 90 days of its release it had penetrated 50% of Fortune 100 companies, and that number has continued to increase. (Wikipedia 2012)v It's now uncommon to go into a meeting where at least one person doesn't reach for an iPad, and you're likely to run into more than one.
And lawyers? According to an ABA technology survey conducted last year (prior to the release of the iPad 2, which was a significant upgrade over the first generation), 13% of attorneys had an iPad. (Richardson 2011)vi That is a very impressive number when you consider how slow attorneys have traditionally been to adopt new technologies. So why the iPad? First, it's cool; second, it's ultraportable; third, it's very versatile, and finally, it's cool. The size and cool factors have definitely been huge contributors to the device's overall success, but it is its versatility that is going to prove its legitimacy and contribute to its overall staying power.
The lawyers themselves were the first to embrace the iPad; after all, the initial target audience was the consumer. Overnight, there was a lightweight portable device that could be used for accessing the Internet, taking quick notes, and checking email, and the screen was large enough to make the device very functional. Many attorneys, as well as other consumers, saw the potential for this new device immediately; others were a little more skeptical, but in time, they would be swayed too.
As one senior partner in my firm put it:
|"I am a diehard PC guy. And I was not a fan of Apple in general ... until I bought the iPad.
As a funny aside, I actually bought the iPad for my wife and kids. But when I brought it home, I set up my work account just to see how it worked. I never let my family touch it after I saw the way it worked. I went out and bought them a Kindle Fire and 2 iTouches [iPod® touch] ...."|
The attorneys I know who have iPads are in love with their devices, and they have become diehard fanseven if they weren't in the beginning.
But the real question is, has the iPad really changed the way attorneys work? I surveyed three key partners in my firm who were early adopters of the iPad. All three indicated that the iPad had exceeded their expectations, and all felt that the iPad made them more productive and allowed them to do more with their time. The most common uses were the usual suspects: email, Internet, calendaring/scheduling, and, of course, there were the typical personal uses: music, movies, bill paying, books, and news. I was surprised how unanimous the sentiment was that the iPad is a viable alternative to a laptop. It was deemed suitable, even preferable, for tasks such as short document reviews, presentations, remote access, depositions, and some legal research.
Generally speaking, the key apps seem to be the native apps: Safari®, email, and calendar. There are some specialized apps people have adopted such as: Instapaper, The Wall Street Journal, Kindle, Nook, the Citrix Receiver, and DocstoGo; but overall, legal apps have had a lower adoption rate. There was reference to WestlawNext, but there was no legal app that seemed to have awed people yet. It was mentioned that many legal apps have failed to live up to expectations; however, it's important to remember that this is a young market and there's still a lot of trial and error as vendors rush into this new space. In addition, with the enhanced features of the newer iPad models, new possibilities are constantly materializing: such as video-conferencing, document scanning, and dictation.
The Firms' IT Departments
Beyond the individual attorneys, the demands surrounding the iPad are influencing initiatives at the firm level. Once the attorneys began to see the potential for iPads they began forcing the hand of most of their IT departments. IOS devices in the form of the iPhone have been around for several years with the first release in 2007 (Wikipedia 2012)vii, but IT departments have been heavily invested in RIM® BlackBerry® technologies. The iPad has been the impetus for IT to take a serious look at Apple products, and the users are demanding that IT find a way to support their iPhones and iPads.
IT Departments in several firms caught this wave early and proactively embraced the change. Shortly after the iPad 2 came out, Proskauer Rose announced an iPad 2 program where they would begin making iPads available to all of their attorneys. Apparently the program was a hit; shortly after the program was announced, 500 of their 700 attorneys had opted for an iPad and a desktop over the use of a laptop. Other firms have instituted similar iPad initiatives. Holland and Knight gave iPads to their associates as holiday presents, and Patterson Belknap gave $675 Apple gift cards to their associates last summer. (Donovan 2011)viii Other firms have iPad support initiatives in place but do not proactively provide the devices at least not yet.
From Consumer to Producer
Several firms are moving into the field of developing and providing their own apps. Firms such as Latham and Watkins, Arnold & Porter and Littler Mendelson have all produced apps. Among the firms on the 2011 Amlaw 200 and Global 100 lists, there have been 26 apps developed. They range in focus from recruitment to the presentation of general firm information to providing legal resources. (Law Firm Mobile 2012)ix This area is guaranteed to see a flourish of activity in coming months; it's very likely that there are initiatives in your firm centered around apps as well.
The iPad has been a real game changer. It is technology that is accessible and friendly, and as one of the partners I surveyed said, "It's a godsend; I turn it on, and it just works." At this stage, people are still exploring the boundaries of what is possible. By far the heaviest usage is still in the area of information consumption, but people are beginning to produce and create with their iPads as well.
People are still very excited about this new platform, and that's not waning anytime soon. They want to share the innovative uses they've found for the device. Anecdotally, I was surprised by how fast I received responses to my random survey. I emailed three top partners at 6:30 in the evening; by the next morning I had received responses from all three, and that's almost unheard of. I have no empirical evidence, but I would almost guarantee that if the inquiry had been centered on their laptop or BlackBerry the responses would have been much slower coming in if I had gotten any replies at all.
The people I surveyed each had a different model and different plans for how to continue to integrate these devices into their work, and more importantly, their lives. The iPad has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Unlike the laptop, desktop, Blackerry, etc. it helps us manage our lives as a whole and doesn't create silos for work, for play, and for family. It's a rare occurrence when attorneys discover, adopt, and bring the technology to IT, but then again, the iPad is the consumer's device.
i iPad Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2012). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipad#First_generation/
ii Gustin, Sam. (2012, March 18). How Many iPads Can Apple Sell? | Business | TIME.com. Business | The latest news and commentary on the economy, the markets, and business | TIME.com. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://business.time.com/2012/03/16/how-many-ipads-can-apple-sell/
iii Kingsley-Hughes, A. (2012, April 6). 600,000 apps in Apple's App Store, yet I can't find anything I want | ZDNet . Technology News, Analysis, Comments and Product Reviews for IT Professionals | ZDNet. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/600000-apps-in-apples-app-store-yet-i-cant-find-anything-i-want/19549
iv Murphy, David (2012, March 8) Apple's App Store Hits 25 Billion Downloads: How Many Per iPhone? | News & Opinion | PCMag.com. (n.d.). Technology Product Reviews, News, Prices & Downloads | PCMag.com | PC Magazine. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2401122,00.asp
v Wikipedia, ibid.
vi Richardson, J. (2011, July 11). 2011 ABA Technology Survey suggests around 300,000 U.S. lawyers use an iPhone, around 130,000 use an iPad iPhone J.D. iPhone J.D.. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://www.iphonejd.com/iphone_jd/2011/07/aba-technology-survey-reveals-increase-in-smartphone-use.html
vii Wikipedia, ibid.
viii DONOVAN, K. (2011, April 22). Law Firms Turn to iPad for Work NYTimes.com. Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds DealBook NYTimes.com. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/04/22/the-rise-of-the-legal-ipad/
ix Law Firm Mobile. (2012, March 28). Law Firm Mobile. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://lawfirmmobile.com/
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