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Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?"  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


 Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?

As the Apple Watch is about to hits stores, the question remains: will lawyers use the Apple Watch? Or are we already too overloaded with devices, gadgets and distractions? My prediction is that the legal profession will take to the Apple Watch like a fish takes to water.

The reason is simple. The Apple Watch won’t clutter our digital lives; it will streamline them. This wearable technology will serve as an unobtrusive, immediate link to the truly important information that we need to know while filtering out the digital noise for later when we have time to sift through it.

Here’s the killer feature that will sell lawyers on the Apple Watch: the subtle notifications. Because of the unobtrusive notifications, many lawyers will quickly begin to use Apple Watches as part of their day-to-day routine. The watch will serve as a digital filter, allowing through only the most important notifications from their iPhones. Lawyers will be able to program their watches to permit notifications about phone calls or messages from only the most important people in their lives: their assistants, their work colleagues, their spouses, or a time sensitive call from a specific person.
Currently, with iPhones, it’s pretty much all or nothing. You either receive notifications or you don’t. So if you’re in court or in a meeting and are expecting a phone call, you’re forced to leave your phone on the table lest you miss the call. When you do this, you send the message that you’re not paying attention. Every buzz causes you to look toward your phone, creating a distraction and breaking the flow of conversation.

With the Apple Watch, you’ll be able to set notifications to vibrate and only allow specific calls through from your phone. That way, the watch will only vibrate when you get that call and you’ll be able to sense the vibration without even having to glance at your watch. And then, when there’s a break in the proceedings or the meeting, you can step out of the room and return the call.
Women attorneys will appreciate this feature even more than their male counterparts. Unlike most men, professional women don’t carry their iPhones in their pant pockets or in the inside pocket of their suit jackets. The pockets are simply too small. Instead, we place our phones in our purses or in our briefcases. This means we don’t feel the phones when they vibrate and oftentimes can’t even hear them when they ring. So in order to avoid the appearance of being rude, we tend to miss important calls altogether.

The Apple Watch offers the perfect solution to this dilemma. It will provide women lawyers with the ability to receive important notifications right on their wrist, even if their iPhone is tucked away and out of sight. So while it seems like such a simple fix, it’s an important one and one that will truly make a difference in the lives of women lawyers.

Of course, there will be many other uses for the Apple Watch, both for lawyers and the public as a whole. Importantly, the Apple Watch is in its infancy and its features will evolve over time, defined in part by the ways that we choose to use it. But I predict that it’s the filtered, silent notifications that will be the killer feature that makes it so appealing right out of the starting block. From there, who knows where it will take us? I, for one, am looking forward to finding out.


Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also 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 and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at [email protected].