Will Lawyers Join the Mobile Revolution?
Posted: November 15, 2012
Fairly or unfairly, lawyers sometimes have a reputation as being technophobes. But with mobile technology rapidly changing the way business is done, it should be no surprise that mobile technology is starting to affect the practice of law which, in turns, affects the object of the practice of law — clients. Applications for smart phones and tablets, many of which are specifically intended for lawyers and legal professionals, are already helping to make legal work more efficient and economical, despite the technology being in its relative infancy. Nevertheless, it remains unknown how quickly and to what extent lawyers will take advantage of the developing technology.
As was the case when personal computers became standard issue for lawyers, mobile apps have had their first and most significant impact on legal research. There are now many apps, even a few free ones, which can provide instant access to cases, statutes, court rules, law dictionaries, and other sorts of legal reference materials. LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Findlaw are some of the noteworthy makers of the most common legal research apps. These apps are very beneficial to lawyers who are away from their desktops or laptops and need immediate access to these resources. There is no need for the lawyer to remember to carry around their pocket U.S. Constitution or Federal Rules of Evidence or haul around much more hefty tomes, as those can now all be at their fingertips. Just as the cell phone made your lawyer far more accessible, mobile apps have made the legal research your lawyer does far more available.
One other category of mobile apps for lawyers that are also very helpful are those made to assist lawyers while they are in court. There are specific apps such as Trial Pad, a trial presentation and legal file management app that can be used to present and annotate evidence trial. A trial is almost always a very labor intensive endeavor that can be very expensive for clients. A wise deployment of mobile technology may help make trial preparation more efficient and may in some instances trim down the size of a trial team. There is also an app called iJuror designed to assist trial lawyers with the fast-paced, somewhat hectic, but vital task of jury selection. Clients are often involved in this aspect of trial, so an app to make what is happening during jury selection more organized and transparent to clients is welcome.
There are also mobile apps that can be used to generate a wide variety of legal documents, useful for lawyers and non-lawyers when there is no time to spare to memorialize agreements and events. One app called Sign Here can be used to create a range of documents on the fly, from non-disclosure agreements, to bills of sale, to promissory notes. Sign Here can even be used to instantly generate a lottery pool agreement, for those times when you and your friends suddenly decide to jointly invest in lottery tickets in hopes of winning the next big jackpot.
A tech savvy lawyer can also make effective use of mobile apps for the general market as well. For example, file management apps such as Dropbox, and note-taking apps, such as Notability, can lessen the voluminous piles of papers lawyers often haul around. For lawyers who travel abroad, even communications apps such as Skype can reduce the international telephone call bills that some firms pass along to clients.
As mobile apps become more sophisticated and ubiquitous, they will only have an even greater impact on the speed, staffing, and resources devoted to legal work. If businesses and other consumers of legal services start noticing more efficient and cost-effective legal work thanks to lawyers using mobile apps, lawyers will have deservedly shed their technophobic reputation.