Lawyers’ use of mobile computing climbs in 2013
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Lawyers love their mobile devices!
But don’t just take my word on it. Instead, consider the results of the American Bar Association’s latest Legal Technology Survey Report, a multi-volume report which is issued annually and focuses on technology trends in the legal industry.
According to this year’s survey results, lawyers are using mobile devices more than ever. Not surprisingly, solo practitioners were the most likely to use mobile devices, with 85 percent reporting use of mobile devices in the law practices in 2013, up from 77 percent in 2012.
The most popular mobile device was a smartphone, with nearly 91 percent of lawyers reporting that they used them in their law practices, up from 89 percent last year.
Lawyers overwhelmingly preferred iPhones, with 62 percent of those lawyers surveyed reporting that they used an iPhone, up from 44 percent last year. Androids were the second most popular smartphone, with 22 percent of respondents using an Android phone.
Not surprisingly – especially in light of the recent news that the company that manufactures BlackBerry phones is seeking a new owner – BlackBerry use continued to decline, with only 6 percent of lawyers using them and only 1 percent using Windows Mobile.
Like smartphones, tablet use also increased at an impressive rate. Nearly half of all lawyers surveyed reported using tablets in their law practices, with 48 percent of lawyers now using tablets, up from 33 percent in 2012.
And, like smartphones, Apple is their brand of choice. In fact, 91 percent of lawyers who used tablets preferred the iPad – and of the 9 percent who didn’t use the iPad, more than half used an Android device.
In other words, lawyers are going mobile at an incredibly fast rate, especially when you consider the fact that the iPad was first released just three years’ ago and today nearly 50 percent of lawyers now use tablets in their law practice.
However, not all lawyers are taking appropriate steps to secure their mobile devices. For example, in 2013, not all lawyers password protected their devices, although 91 percent reported that they did, up from when only 89 percent last year.
Unfortunately, far fewer lawyers took the security precaution of enabling the remote wiping of their phones; only 25 percent enabled that feature in 2013. While not an impressive statistic, at least it represents an increase from 2012, when only 18% of lawyers reported enabling that feature.
So, what apps are lawyers using the most on their mobile devices? According to the survey, the most popular law-related apps used by lawyers were Fastcase (26.5 percent), Westlaw (7.7 percent), and Lexis (7.7 percent), and WestlawNext (7.3 percent). Other legal apps used by lawyers surveyed included the ABA Journal, LawStack, American Bar Association, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, PLI and Lexis Advance.
The top three most-used non-legal apps lawyers reported using were: Dropbox (15.2 percent), Evernote (9.8 percent), and LinkedIn (8.6 percent). Other non-legal apps used by lawyers included Dragon Dictation, Documents to Go, the Wall Street Journal, PDF readers, and QuickOffice.
And, not surprisingly, since solo attorneys use mobile devices the most, they also download the most apps, with 43 percent reporting that they downloaded apps in 2013, up from 30 percent in 2012.
So there’s no question about it. Lawyers are embracing mobile computing more quickly than ever before.
But what about other types of technology? Well, the ABA survey covered that as well, so tune in next week to learn if lawyers are as receptive to using cloud computing in their law practices as they have been with mobile computing.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.