Lawyers and iPads: What Will Law Firms Do Differently in 5 Years Thanks to Going Mobile?



by Shawn Gaines on July 24, 2015

Community , Law Firm , Legal & Industry Education , Mobile

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There’s no shortage of new mobile apps hitting the scene on a daily basis. Statistics vary, but 2013 estimates pointed to about 20,000 apps being added to Apple’s App Store each month. In 2014, according to adjust, you were looking at 60,000 apps. My iPhone tells me I have 58 apps installed on my own device, and I can confirm at least half of those don’t involve birds and/or anger.

This growth is touching every vertical, and more and more apps for legal are hitting the market—from productivity to research. We’ve made a number of updates to our own mobile app, Relativity Binders, since we released it back in 2013, some based on feedback we’ve received from folks using the app in new, unique ways we didn’t anticipate.

With all this runway for mobile applications in legal today, we wanted to see how experts in our space are anticipating mobility impacting law firms over the next five years. So what will firms be doing differently in the near future thanks to mobility?

 

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Patrick Burke, senior counsel at Seyfarth Shaw

 “Mobile technology will continue to change the way law firms build their infrastructures. Although mergers have created centralized law firms, decentralized data will continue to create more decentralized physical locations. With a reduced need to have legal teams in one place will come significant changes in law firms’ use of real estate.”

 

Brett Burney, principal at Burney Consultants and founder of Macs in Law

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“Mobility aside, firms will be embracing the cloud. They lost the BYOD battle and they’ll soon lose the anti-cloud campaign. Because of that, lawyers who work on their phones and tablets will insist on easy access to ALL of their files and documents. Firms will have to allow consumer-based services like Dropbox or OneDrive tied to their Office 365 accounts, which I suspect all firms will have in five years. If firms offer a private cloud, it better be just as accessible and convenient as the consumer offerings.”

 

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David Horrigan, e-discovery counsel at kCura

 “Mobile technology will continue to bring fundamental change to the way law firms communicate, but the effect will be greater than just faster communication. Mobile technology will create new assets for firms by tapping sometimes under-utilized talent. For instance, a part-time data entry clerk may have a great idea that would have died on the vine in an era of formal memos photocopied for hand distribution, but in the mobile era, that idea—transmitted with lightning speed to collaborative working groups—might benefit the firm immensely.”

 

Dan Nottke, CIO at Kirkland & Ellis

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“I do not believe what law firms will be doing will be that much different; I believe where they are doing it from will. A number of industries have enjoyed the ability to work from anywhere, at any time, due to remote computing and now mobile technologies. Law firms have been slower to adopt that model. As enhancements in mobile platforms emerge, and as wireless communications improve, the ability to connect to systems required to provide valued legal services is no longer governed by a physical work space. This will be an interesting transition as many legal services are provided in person today. With better mobile, video connections will start to become the norm instead of the oddity.”

 

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Constantine Pappas, product specialist at kCura

“Aside from the obvious, but perhaps overly hopeful, dream of attorneys printing fewer documents and no longer lugging giant stacks of paper onto trains, planes, and automobiles, I suspect the greatest improvements will be made in the area of collaboration. Just as the fax with the hastily scribbled coversheet gave way to the email, I see teams—law firm, corporation, vendor—all making decisions in near real-time, resulting in fewer unnecessary status calls and internal delays.”

 

What do you think about the future of the mobile law firm? Share your predictions in the comments below.

Shawn Gaines is director of marketing communications at kCura, where he guides content strategy, PR and analyst relations, social media, and brand messaging.

 

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