Will lawyers embrace wearable tech, and the future?
Technology is changing at a rapid clip. Devices that were once a marvel less than a decade ago, like e-readers, smartphones and tablets, are now commonplace. Cloud computing is on the rise and social media use and postings, whether by parties, witnesses or jurors, is now a factor in the vast majority of cases being litigated in courtrooms across the country. The times the are a changin’ — and quickly.
The good news is that in some cases, lawyers are adapting quite well, especially when it comes to mobile computing. In fact, according to the results of the American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey, nearly 91 percent of lawyers use smartphones in their practices and 48 percent use tablets.
That’s an incredible amount of acclimation in a very short period of time given that the first smartphone, the iPhone, was released in 2007 and the first tablet, the iPad, was released in 2010. In other words, lawyers — who are traditionally slow to adopt new technologies into their practices — seem to be taking to mobile like a fish takes to water.
Well get ready, fellow attorneys, for the next stage of the mobile revolution: wearable technology.
And, it’s not just coming soon — it’s already here. Google Glass is now available to the public, smartwatches have been available for a number of months now, and Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch, was just released, with rumors of an iWatch release in the fall.
That means you can pick your wearable poison. Apple or Android? Smartwatch or glasses? Or perhaps you’ll choose both.
I predict that for most lawyers, smartwatches will initially prevail and that we’ll see a quick uptick in use once the iWatch is released, since the vast majority of lawyers still use iPhones (62 percent according to the 2013 ABA Legal Technology Survey results).
The reason smartwatches will be so popular with lawyers is that they offer an easy and unobtrusive way to filter only the most important information received on your smartphone. So if you’re expecting a priority email or phone call, you can program your phone to forward it to your smartwatch so that you’ll receive a subtle vibration on your wrist. This will come in handy when you’re in court, for example. So instead of causing a disruption in the proceedings, you can leave the room quietly and tend to the matter in the hallway with no one else the wiser.
Google Glass won’t be as popular at first, but over time I suspect that as new legal specific apps are released (the folks at Cornell’s Legal Information Institute are already working on some) and as forward-thinking lawyers find creative ways to use Glass in their practices, we’ll see lawyers increasingly using this technology as well.
I speak from experience. I recently obtained a complimentary pair of Google Glass for review purposes thanks to a helping hand from the kind folks at Justia, including Tim Stanley, Nick Moline and Vasu Kappettu. Glass is an incredible technology that offers tremendous potential.
Much like the iPhone when it was first released in 2007, Glass is a diamond in the rough and its utility will no doubt change over time as more apps are developed and users find creative ways to make it work for their needs.
So mark my words: The next stage of the mobile revolution has arrived. Learn about wearable technologies and be ready. Sure it takes time to keep up with rapidly changing technologies, but even so, it will pay off in the long run. Rest assured the time spent keeping up with new technologies will pay off down the road and is a far better option than the alternative: being left behind in the wake of inevitable change.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.