The Mobile Lawyer: 7 Things that You Might Be Surprised to Know

Posted by Gaby Isturiz on Oct 23, 2015 8:00:00 AM


mobile lawyerFrom interviewing witnesses, to taking depositions and appearing in court, the nature of an attorney’s  work has always been mobile. With the advent of smartphones, tablets, wearables and other mobile devices, technology enables attorneys to work the way that they want to work.

We’ve known for quite some time that attorneys are heavy users of mobile solutions, but the results of The American Bar Association 2015 Technology Report might surprise you. While some of the information contained in the report is fairly predictable, we learned some things too.   Take a look at our key takeaways:

#1: For attorneys, recording time on a PC is a diminishing practice.

In this day and age, there are certain activities that people engage in on their mobile device that they are unlikely to perform on their PC. For example, when is the last time you sent a tweet using your laptop and browser? Checking Facebook and Instagram is another example of this. It turns out that only 30% of attorneys report using time and billing functions on their laptops regularly (down from 36% last year). While laptop use goes down, use of mobile apps for time and billing activities are increasing. Seven percent of attorneys are using time and billing apps on their smartphones regularly, up from 6% last year.   Furthermore, 10% of attorneys are using time and billing apps on a tablet, an increase from 8% the year before.

#2: Attorneys are relying on Apps to complete their work.

Aside from time and billing, many lawyers are using mobile apps in general to help them in their work. Approximately 41% of attorneys are using legal apps, with the most popular being Fastcase and Westlaw Next. Both apps are used to conduct legal research. Meanwhile, a slightly higher number of attorneys (44.6%) are making use of general business apps such as LinkedIn and Dropbox as part of their legal work.

#3: Attorneys prefer smartphones to laptops for conducting legal work.

Currently, 90% of attorneys are using their smartphones for legal tasks. That’s even more than those using laptops, which is just below 80%. Tablets are a little less prominent, with a little under half of the attorneys using them for work while away from the office.

#4: Texting is the new Email.

In the era of “instant communication,” texting is replacing phone calls and email as the standard means in our personal and business lives. According to RingCentral, 80% of people use texting for business. Attorneys are no exception, as 63% of attorneys use text or sms for law related tasks regularly, and 18% do it occasionally.

#5: Smartphones, yes, but Apps? Not so much.

If 90% of lawyers are using smartphones for work, but less than half are using apps, then what are they using their mobile devices for? The most common use is e-mail, with 89% of lawyers saying they check e-mail on their smartphones regularly. Keeping up with contacts was also popular (over 73%). Furthermore, 75% of attorneys reported using the calendar function and 38% reported regular use of the phone’s camera as well.

#6: Attorneys are all over the place.

It’s clear that use of mobile legal technology is going up, but just how much impact is it having on where attorneys work? Over 73% of attorneys report telecommuting from somewhere other than their regular office, at least some of the time. Of those attorneys, 18% reported telecommuting at least two or three times per week. 

Now that we know how many attorneys are telecommuting, the question is, where are they telecommuting from? This provides a better picture of what their reasons are for logging in somewhere besides the office. The vast majority of telecommuters (almost 80%) are simply working from home. Meanwhile, nearly 40% are working from hotels, indicating travel for either business or pleasure. Over 25% of attorneys are telecommuting from other people’s offices, implying some type of work out in the field. 

#7: BYOD and iPhone Adoption continues to increase.

 Not surprisingly, organizations everywhere realize the importance of mobility in business productivity as well as an intrinsic part of our personal lives.  BYOD policies continue to be adopted with 76% of attorneys using their personally owned devices. Also, the iPhone continues to be the most popular device for attorneys (68%) followed by Android (24%).

Mobile technology is making it possible for lawyers to do all sorts of things they couldn’t do before. No longer are they chained to a desk or forced to spend late nights in the office to handle their caseload. As more and more lawyers embrace mobile devices and apps, they can work on their own terms and their own schedules, from wherever they need to be. These are the mobile lawyers, and they represent a brighter, more flexible, more efficient future for anyone practicing law.

What surprised you about the findings discussed here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Topics: Mobility