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2011 holiday gifts for the tech-savvy lawyer

DrThis week's Daily Record column is entitled "2011 holiday gifts for the tech-savvy lawyer."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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2011 holiday gifts for the tech-savvy lawyer

If you’re in the market for gift ideas for the tech-savvy lawyer in your life, look no further. This holiday season, there are lots of options, whether you’re looking for something inexpensive, such as a book, or are looking to go all out with the purchase of a smart phone or tablet computer. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.* 

First, if you’re in the market for a smart phone, the newly released iPhone 4S is a strong contender because of its built in speech-to-text dictation system. This means that every time the keyboard pops up, whether in an email, text or web search, you have the option to dictate input rather than type it, and your speech is then immediately, and accurately, transcribed for you. Additionally, the Siri Assistant function makes it esy for you to dictate emails,texts, appointments,reminders, web searches, and more. Over time this function should improve, making the iPhone and other smart phones that follow suit, indispensable to the legal practitioner.

Another great gift for the lawyer in your life is a tablet computer. Although there are a number of non-Apple contenders, including the Kindle Fire and the Samsung Galaxy, the iPad is considered by many to be the best tablet available right now. In fact, according to the  2011 ABA Legal Technology Survey, the iPad is used by 89% of lawyers who use a tablet device for work-related tasks. 

There a good reason for this statistic--of all tablets, the iPad offers the best selection of work-related apps that make it all the more functional for mobile lawyers. A few non-legal apps worth considering include my PDF annotation app of choice, SignMyPad, my favorite note taking app, Sundry Notes, and Zite, a news reader app that I use nearly every day. 

There are also a growing number of iPad-only apps designed specifically for the legal profession, including Fastcase, Trial Pad, Trial Touch, Exhibit A, RTLC: Evidence, Jury Tracker, iJuror, Jury Duty, ExhibitViewiPad, The Deponent App, iPleading, Mobile Transcript for iPad, LawStack, LawBox, and CaseManager. 

If you’re looking for iPad accessories, my iPad case of choice is the JavoEdge Axis case. Another option is to buy a case that includes a built-in keyboard--the perfect choice for a lawyer on the go. The Logitech Keyboard Case for the iPad2 comes highly recommended and is one that I’m considering buying in the very near future. 

Finally, last but not least, books always make good presents. There are a number of useful technology-related books for lawyers that were published over the last year, including “iPad in One Hour for Lawyers” by Tom Mighell and “Virtual Law Practice: How to Deliver Legal Services Online” by Stephanie Kimbro. Other books of interest include: 1) “Chef Supreme,” a cookbook that is a group effort authored by the spouses of the United States Supreme Court Justices in honor of Martin Ginsburg, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s late husband, 2) the newly revamped “Solo by Choice,” written by my co-author Carolyn Elefant, and 3)  for Harry Potter fans, “Law Made Fun Through Harry Potter,” by my other co-author, Karen Morris.

And, if these suggestions aren’t enough for you, you can always check out The Billable Hour (thebillablehour.com), a website that offers unique gifts specifically tailored to lawyers and legal professionals.

* All of the suggestions above are based on my personal experience and preferences, but rest assured--I haven’t been compensated monetarily by any of the vendors for these recommendations, although a few of the iPad app developers did allow me complimentary access to test out their apps.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and GigaOM Pro Analyst. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA in late 2011. 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 nblack@nicoleblackesq.com. 

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