Guest Blog by William Caraher, CIO, von Briesen & Roper, S.C.
Oh no, not another post about attorneys, iPads & tablets you say? Well, this one is hopefully different. Law firm CIOs have been inundated for requests for iPads since the first version was released over two years ago. The initial push for tablets was fueled by the ‘shiny object syndrome’ that is common to most new technology gadgets. Thankfully, in the last year, there have been a lot of legal specific applications written and targeted for the legal community. Developers have done a very good job of creating solutions for the practicing attorney. But, many of the Apps and success stories are from solo and small firms. There is everything from time entry, billing, case management, to research, trial prep and jury selection Apps. But, the real challenge for any mid to large law firm is to scale the applications, get them to interface with the existing enterprise applications and ultimately make the attorneys more productive. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet. But, 2012 might be the year it all comes together.
Apple is expected to soon announce the iPad3. The rumors have been circulating that it will have possibly three form-factors and three price-points. The obvious goal with this vast array of choices is to take aim at Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the confusing assortment of Android devices. There is a good reason Android will not dominate the tablet market anytime soon; the marketing effort and product design is too fragmented. The Apps and Store for Android are not as simplified as Apple’s and the product line is confusing to the average consumer. What makes a Sony tablet better than a Samsung tablet? Most buyers don’t know how to compare Android to Android so they simplify their choice and go with the Apple iPad.
That’s not to say the iPad is perfect. The one killer feature missing from the iPad, which hopefully makes an appearance on the iPad3, is native pen-input and handwriting recognition. If the iPad3 had no other new feature, this one simple addition would be the turning point for law firm (and more wide-spread business) acceptance and I bet every attorney in the US would be more productive because of it. Practicing attorneys generate hundreds of pages of notes each and every day. Unfortunately, few of those pages are ever transcribed and thus end up getting scanned as an image and tucked into the electronic file record. But, when you need to refer back to a note, a keyword or find a reference there is no search—except for whatever you named the file. Imagine a day when you can take notes on a tablet, link them to an electronic file, save them into a document management system and keyword search the entire stream of handwritten text immediately and automatically. It sounds like the end to legal pads and a huge gain for search and retrieval (especially in the heat of a trial or witness deposition). Hopefully that day is not too far off in the future. Incidentally, Microsoft tablets have this capability today and it works phenomenally by using an App called OneNote. The only problem is that MSFT tablets are five year old technology and are similar in size and weight to a boat anchor. 2012 will be an interesting year if Windows 8 tablets finally make an appearance in the market and if the iPad3 has native handwriting and more enterprise equipped features.