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Success Round Table For Lawyers

The Impact of iPads - Lawyers, Law Firms, And The Legal Profession

     The launch of the new iPad has been surrounded with a lot of hype and a lot of hope for a "Go To" tool that will revolutionize the way we look at tablet style computers, information delivery,  and peripheral devices. Now the the iPad has had a few months on the market, Attorney Joshua Barrett of Black Helterline LLP discusses how the iPad works for him in the real world and where he thinks the future lies for for the iPad and its use in the legal field.


ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to GAL Radio brought to you by the Greatest American Lawyer Blog changing the way law is practiced through technology, innovation and creativity. Turning the business of law on its head and shaking things up to the betterment of clients, lawyers, law firms, and society. Now here is your host, Damien Allen. 
DAMIEN: Good afternoon and welcome to GAL Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the phone is Josh Barrett of Black Helterline LLP, in Portland, Oregon. Welcome to the program.
JOSH:   Thanks. Hi, Damien.
DAMIEN: Today we are talking about the impact of IPads, lawyers, law firms and the legal profession. You recently wrote on Tabletlegal.com that the IPads seemed to work well for you for a lunch meeting. How are you using the IPad, Josh? And what do you see is the great boon for this particular advice?
JOSH:   I think the great boon for me, anyway, and I think for a lot of lawyers is that it gives lawyers additional choices about how to deliver legal services. I mean it doesn’t need to be behind a desk and behind a computer all day. I know my clients need me in different places and at different times, and the IPad gives me choices about how and when I can deliver my services and in a way that works well for my clients.
DAMIEN: What type of things are you doing with the IPad in your profession?
JOSH:   The choices, you know, it’s interesting. It’s not a desk top or a laptop replacement and that’s not a failing. I use it a lot for managing all those little slices of time and all those little projects that come up in a business attorney’s practice.  While I like those days where you can sit down and crank out 8, 10, 12 hours on a big project, a lot of the practice is little, tiny, small answering questions, cranking out a quick agreement, responding to a letter, or a voicemail, and the IPad allows me to do that very easily and take advantage of those little slices of time throughout my day whether I’m off picking up the kids or between client meetings to get those little things done to move my clients’ businesses and their projects forward.
DAMIEN: Now you had mentioned this lunch meeting in the June article that you did on Tablet Legal. In February you said, “One of the greatest things about IPad that it may be the fact that there weren’t a lot of applications. It didn’t come with a million things it was going to be able to do right out of the box.” Now that you have actually had the machine in your hand and you have been using it, are you finding this idea to be the same, or are you finding it may be lacking something that could be there?
JOSH:   I think the real wave of apps has yet to crest. I think the last number I heard were 10,000 IPad specific apps in the store which is more rapid than the development of the IPhone apps initially was is my understanding, but the real interesting things I think have yet to come. I think good apps are those that are very specific purpose, do one thing or two things, and do them very well. I don’t mind popping between a couple apps in order to get a project done or to gather a couple of pieces of information or to do a couple of small tasks when each of those apps do those things very, very well. I think that’s a good app design decision, but what do I know, I’m a lawyer not a software designer.
DAMIEN: But ultimately you are the consumer using the end product so as a lawyer, what would make this device work better for attorneys in general?
JOSH:   Boy, that’s a tough one. I think one of the areas where I find the IPad stumbling, you know, the file management system that Apple designed that came with it is a complete clunker. I don’t even use it. Thinking things through ITunes, I use some of the third party file management solutions like Drop Box and Good Reader to manage and get access to the files that I need and those work quite well. I think the file system needs to still become more robust. The file system now is very much like the days when we had files on floppy discs and we had to keep track of where the most recent version was, or where you last copied it, and I guess only because I did that dance for a number of years that I am probably able to keep my files in reasonable check now. So that would be one thing, a more robust file management system that would really benefit attorneys just because dealing with those documents are our stock in trade and integrating well with some of the cloud solutions is going to be really important.
DAMIEN: I think at the lunch meeting you were going over documents with clients. You were making notes and at the end of the article you had mentioned that you would probably use a different platform, not a different program, easy to use right out of the box and you’re finding these things. What are the changes that you see the IPad bringing to you, your firm and to what you need to do in your every day attorney practice?
JOSH:   The apps are constantly evolving. I check the app store every few days and even some of my favorite apps that I love how they work right now get updates with a little tweak or a new feature, and I like to see that. In the case of that particular meeting, I think if I had to do it again, as I mentioned in the blog post, I would use I Annotate just because of it’s annotation and notation features and document access features have become more robust since the initial version, and I would allow me to both share the documents I was reviewing with the potential client and make notes, highlight provisions of interest to the potential client, and deal with that all in one app in more interactive way. I think that would have been a better solution than that particular situation, though. All things considered, I’m certainly not unhappy with how it went, and if I had to do it again, the other combination of tools would have worked fine. One of the things that’s great and it’s very much like practicing law is there are usually a number of different ways to get any particular project done and I have a WI-FI only model, and sometimes I don’t have WI-FI so I need to find other ways to make sure I have the documents in the right place when I’m going to be in a place without WI-FI and it works just fine. Like anything else with a little thinking ahead, just like when you grab your laptop, you have to think, “Well I need a power cord, or I need the modem.” I have to think about gees am I going to have WI-FI wherever I end up. I’ve actually given some thought to jail breaking my IPhone, because there are some apps that allow use of the IPhone to create a WI-FI hot spot much like the Android apps that allow to do that, and that’s one of the things I’ve considered doing to, again, capture these little slices of time when I don’t have WI-FI to be able to get a little something done and to help a client out in those in-opportune times.
DAMIEN: And as the case with any initial launching of a product, we have to wait to see what the revision launch, the 2.0 version is going to bring too. Is there a wish list that attorneys have that when 2.0 drops that they are hoping something else is going to be on the IPad?
JOSH:   I think there are so much unexplored potential on the apps side right now. I haven’t really given a ton of thought to what the 2.0 hardware would look like. I think the display possibilities like was just rolled out with the new IPhone could be implemented in some way on the IPad and would be pretty amazing. I think some of the input alternatives for the IPad could mature a little bit. There’s some USB support for some types of input, but I think that could mature a little bit, and again, that might be something that’s solved with applications rather than hardware. I find the device very sturdy and I’ve not had many times except for being someplace where there is no WI-FI where I’ve been disappointed with the hardware configuration. It withstands the use and abuse of my two kids as well, and it makes the trip to and from work each day without a problem. So I’m very happy with the performance of the device with it’s weight. You know it fits well into my workflow both as a tool and just getting around town it’s not cumbersome or a burden which probably lends to why it has fit well into my workflow. To be perfectly honest, it still probably, oh gosh, a good 50% a tool I use at home for sharing photos or quick browsing the internet. It’s not just a work tool for me. It has a lot of functions and maybe that is sort of what I really like about it is it allows me to in the middle of playing games with the kids, I don’t have to stand up and go into the office to deal with a client matter, I can quickly deal with it on the IPad and then get back to something fun.
DAMIEN: Of the other attorneys that work within your firm, is there anyone else using the IPad?
JOSH:   There are no other IPads in my office right now, though there is a lot of interest and a lot of folks that stop by to poke at it and prod at it. There are some of the stereotypical generational and technology use differences in my firm. I’m sort of an early adopter for a lot of these things, but I know a couple folks are interested in picking one up, but so far I’m out there on the bleeding edge all by myself.
DAMIEN: Well we know it’s a long way from replacing the ubiquitous yellow pad, but it definitely is looking to be one of the new Go To tools at least here in the upcoming future for attorneys to have yet another way to present and to file what they need to file and to look up what they need to look up and do what they need to do.
JOSH:   Exactly.
DAMIEN:  Well we’d like to thank you very much for joining us today.
JOSH:   No problem it was fun.
DAMIEN: We’ve been speaking with Josh M. Barrett of Black Helterline, LLP, of Portland, Oregon. You’ve been listening to GAL Radio. We’ve been discussing the impact of IPads, Lawyers, Law Firms, and the Legal Profession. Everyone have a great afternoon.
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Great article. I've heard similar thoughts from time pressed attorneys. Also, some say useful for simply checking emails and checking a few things online while the PC is booting up (sometimes takes several minutes).

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