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Attorneys Embracing Smartphones without IT Support of Their Firms


Attorneys in the United States have embraced Smartphones, but are only scratching the surface of these devices' capabilities, because of their firms' inability to offer IT support for these devices.

According to an ALM Legal Intelligence survey of 266 lawyers at both private firms and corporations, nearly 9 in 10 of the attorneys surveyed use a smart phone for work purposes and 40 percent use tablets.

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Photo credit: Ramon Vasconceles

Unfortunately, only 13 percent of the respondents are using Smartphones in lieu of their PCs. It turns out most just use them to check email when they are out of the office. This is surprising since, as mentioned previously in our blog, tablets are finding a role in the courtroom in voir dire (attorneys checking out prospective jurors' social media profiles) and exhibit management and presentation.

ALM says a major factor hindering the adoption of Smartphones and tablets for more robust use is the lack of technical support from law firms or in-house law departments.

"As a group, lawyers have not won fame as evangelists of technology," said Nigel Holloway, vice president of research at ALM Legal Intelligence. "But they have been using mobile tools long enough to know two things: don't expect miracles and any feature that can spur productivity should be leveraged for all its worth."

Surprisingly, only 18 percent listed business development as one of the three functions they use Smartphones and tablet computers. That means less than one-fifth of attorneys surveyed are using mobile devices to access social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with clients and colleagues quickly.

Security seems to be an issue surrounding lawyers' use of mobile devices. Nearly a quarter of respondents don't use a password and 17 percent couldn't state if or how their mobile device is secured. Less than 40 percent say their device can be wiped remotely, a key security measure.

The survey revealed that, although Smartphones and tablets are finding a role in the courtroom, they aren't always welcome. More than 40 percent of those surveyed said they have faced limits on smart phone or tablet use in the courtroom, including being told to turn off the devices. Attorneys say that even when rules permit use, judges sometimes discourage the use of mobile devices.


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