Daily Dispatch

The iPad for Lawyers: End of the PC?

By | Mar.28.11 | Daily Dispatch, Legal Technology, Productivity, Workstyles

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or stuck on a deserted island for the past month, you’ll have likely noticed the fanfare that accompanied Apple’s recent unveiling of its latest “must-have” toy, the iPad 2. The new tablet device sold out within hours the day it was released, and it appears the iPad 2 sales will easily surpass the 15 million first-generation iPads that have been sold.

In his presentation introducing the iPad 2, Steve Jobs proclaimed that we are now living in the “Post-PC Era,” meaning that the personal computer—that’s right, the box that’s sitting on your desk right now—is a thing of the past. Does that mean we all need to rush out to buy and start using an iPad? Not likely. But it’s definitely worth asking whether an iPad can help you provide better service to your clients. For many lawyers, the answer is yes!

In this three-part series of posts, I’ll discuss the iPad for lawyers, some of the best apps that lawyers can use in their practice, and the accessories you’ll need to complement your tablet computer. But first, let’s build the business case for buying an iPad. To do that, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you carry rule and procedure books to the courthouse for trials and hearings? When I practiced law, I would always stick a copy of the rules of procedure and rules of evidence into my briefcase before heading off to court. Now you can store these manuals on your iPad, and thousands of other legal reference books as well, all on a light, easy-to-read device.
  • Do you read and mark up case law, pleadings, discovery, contracts, transaction papers, or other documents in your practice? The iPad is a terrific tool for reading PDF files—really, most any file. Even better, there are apps that allow you to annotate and mark up files. You can even sign documents, or present them to your clients for their signature, right on the iPad.
  • Do you pick a lot of juries, or present evidence frequently at hearings or trials? There are now apps for the iPad that help you with jury selection. You can also connect the device to a projector and show exhibits to the judge or jury in court.
  • Do you have telephone conferences with clients, opposing counsel or others? With the iPad, you will soon be able to turn those teleconferences into face-to-face video conferences. The iPad 2’s camera will likely spawn a number of meeting apps that make it dead simple to see someone when you’re talking to them.

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, then you should seriously consider whether an iPad can help you in your practice. In the next post, I’ll talk about some must-have apps that are useful for any lawyer.

Tom Mighell is the author of  The iPad in One Hour for Lawyers and the related blog iPad4Lawyers. A Senior Consultant with Contoural, Inc., he helps companies and in-house counsel with records management and electronic discovery issues. Tom blogs at Inter Alia and is co-presenter of The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast.

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