Here is a recent Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.
Top Gadgets for Lawyers Working From a Home Office
It’s been more than a year since the start of the pandemic, and what a year it’s been! The good news is that as we head into the spring, the light is finally visible at the end of the tunnel as vaccination rates increase. As a result, sometime in the near future we may finally be able to head back to our offices on a full or part-time basis.
Of course, we’ll be returning to the offices in what will be a “new normal.” While we don’t know what that will look like, one thing is for sure: it will almost certainly include more remote work. This is because lawyers now know remote work is possible and have more trust and familiarity with the cloud computing technologies that support it. One way or another, working from home will undoubtedly be commonplace on the other side of the pandemic.
For that reason, the New York State Bar Association recently held a CLE that focused entirely on gadgets for the home office, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the panelists. During that presentation I shared a few of my favorite remote working gadgets. Since many of us continue to work remotely during this stage of the pandemic and will continue to do so at an increased rate even after the pandemic ends, I decided it would be worthwhile to share some of the gadgets I discussed in that presentation.
First, you should definitely invest in a Wi-Fi mesh router. I recommend either Amazon’s Eero mesh router or Google’s version. These routers are perfect for the home office because the mesh network, which is made up of individual Wi-Fi points that “talk” to one another, has an extensive reach. Setup is quick and simple, and you can control the router and change its settings using your smartphone.
Next, you’ll need a good portable laptop stand - or two. My favorite all-around stand is the Aidata LHA-3 LAPstand Aluminum Portable Laptop Stand. This is a fairly lightweight laptop stand and weighs 1.8 pounds. It has three different settings, so you have options when it comes to the placement and angle of your laptop. It folds flat for easy storage and fits right into your laptop bag when traveling. It costs $29.99 on Amazon.
Another option to consider is the Moft “invisible” laptop stand. I prefer the version that attaches to the bottom of your laptop via an adhesive backing, but it’s also available in a standalone version as well. This stand weighs only 3 ounces, and when not in use it folds nearly flush and lays flat at 1/9 of an inch. It can be folded into two different height settings, and costs $24.99.
I also recommend that you consider investing in a standalone touchpad instead of a mouse. I prefer the Apple Magic Trackpad 2, but there are also many different PC-compatible touchpads available at Amazon and elsewhere. The reason I prefer a touchpad over a mouse is because it offers a more ergonomic way to interact with your computer’s interface, and ultimately puts much less stress on your hand and wrist. An added benefit is that because it’s flat and thin, it’s much easier to transport whether for travel purposes or otherwise.
Another gadget to purchase for ergonomic reasons is portable keyboard. Typing using your laptop’s keypad can cause stress to your hand after a while; that’s where a wireless keyboard comes in. I use Apple’s Magic Wireless Keyboard since it’s a full-size keyboard that is lightweight and portable. No matter what brand you buy, a wireless keyboard is a must-have for remote-working lawyers - especially if you plan to travel a lot once the pandemic is over.
I would also suggest you invest in a pair of wireless earbuds. I prefer Apple AirPods, but there are plenty of other brands available that work well, too. I guarantee that once you use wireless earbuds and are able to engage in unencumbered, hands-free phone conversations, you won’t be able to recall how you got by without them. Trust me, they’re well worth the price you’ll pay.
Next, consider adding a little light to your workspace with a desk lamp like the multi-function TaoTronics LED lamp. This adjustable desk light has a built-in Qi wireless charger for your devices, along with a USB port. It’s also dimmable with fully customizable color and brightness settings, and includes a timer along with memory functionality. It can be yours for $59.99 at Amazon.
Finally, but not least, consider investing in a portable charging station. I own the udoq Multi-Device Charging Station, but there are plenty of other choices available. A charging station is a great gadget to have in your home office, since it provides a convenient and orderly way to keep your devices charged. Wires are typically hidden behind the device, and you simply dock your mobile devices when you walk in the door and charge them as you work.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase law practice management software for small law firms. She 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 Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at email@example.com.