29 May iPads in Court: The Legal Digital Revolution
A quiet revolution is befalling the traditionally technophobic legal profession. In the form of the Apple iPad, lawyers up and down the country are starting to change the way they do business.
However, whilst the iPad offers real benefits for the legal profession, this isn’t without some tribulations and challenges. So let’s examine the iPad’s true potential. What are its advantages and disadvantages, and how real is this potential revolution?
Goodbye Blackberry and Goodbye Laptop
More user friendly than the clunky Blackberry and more mobile than the laptop, the iPad is a truly mobile electronic notebook. Not only can legal professionals browse the web, read and edit documents on the move but they can also handle all emails using one lightweight, stylish device.
The battery life of the iPad is also superior to most laptops – an important consideration for those who are constantly on the move.
A Reference Library on the Move
While ease and convenience are important, it’s the possibility of a truly mobile reference library that really highlights the potential of the iPad. Apple users have access to millions and millions of apps, which could soon become a mobile reference bank for lawyers. The business category already includes over 463 applications.
Although the law category is much less developed (with only six apps listed), it has real potential to be a great resource. With several publishers looking into this medium and the lower costs of downloading apps, this could transform the way lawyers access and retrieve information.
More Flexible and Mobile Working
The iPad heralds a move towards more flexible and mobile working in the legal profession.
A consumer and a professional device, the iPad allows lawyers to bring a little bit of their personal life (books, music, photographs) with them when travelling for work. In addition, it encourages and allows professionals to work remotely with more ease.
Not only can lawyers review documents and access emails anywhere in the world but they can also host virtual meetings and (re)arrange their schedules away from the office. As long as you can access the internet, you can set up your virtual desk just about anywhere.
The potential of the iPad is not without challenges, the biggest of which remains security. For the potential of mobile working to be truly realised, it’s essential that ‘thin client’ technology works well on the iPad.
This means that client information is stored on a corporate network and not on individual devices – critical in case an iPad is stolen or lost. Presently this remains an area in need of some work. The Citrix system that provides this service for BlackBerry and other operating systems is still being trialled.
However, an Apple enterprise wide version of the iPad operating system is due for release later this summer.
Issues related to communications present another limitation for the iPad. Newer models are now working on LTE/ 4G mobile phone networks, but this isn’t yet available everywhere and 3G remains much slower.
In addition, networks are feeling the strain of customer demand for mobile data, leading some carriers to ration data. Whilst coverage of LTE is improving daily, data demand will remain a constant challenge for providers and this may change the way data is provided. For the legal professional on the move, this is an important consideration.
Finally, the iPad still possesses some usability constraints. Whilst the new iPad air is much lighter than previous models (0.96 pounds), it remains too heavy to hold for long periods of time.
In addition, the touchscreen keyboard on the iPad is also not suitable for fast typing for most users. Whilst it’s possible to purchase a WiFi keyboard for the iPad, it’s worth remembering this will be much slower than conventional keyboards.
In addition, the iPad cannot presently multi-task, so you can’t surf the web and edit a document simultaneously. Therefore in reality, lawyers still need a laptop and a mobile phone.
The digital legal revolution is not without hurdles but it does have real potential to transform the way the legal profession works.
At Tricostar, we can help realise this potential. Providers of cloud-based shared service solutions, we can help you resolve issues of security and data storage for your iPad use. For more information, get in touch with us today by calling +44 (0)208 292 2660 or contact us online.