What the ILTA Technology Survey Says About Mobile Legal Research

Recently released, the ILTA Technology Survey offers information professionals great insight into how lawyers are interacting with technology at their firms. The organization, made up primarily of firm IT and KM professionals, produces an annual technology survey, and, thankfully, releases it for free (the AmLaw Tech Survey and the ABA’s Legal Technology Survey Report will run you a few dollars).

Notably, among the many topics it covers, the survey focuses on attorneys’ use of tablet pcs and apps.

The results for the question “to the best of your knowledge, which non-native tablet/iPad apps are most used at your firm for business purposes (choose up to five apps)” are as follow, with a brief/not-all-encompassing description from me on what these apps do:

1. Citrix Receiver – enables access to Citrix environments from mobile devices

2. LinkedIn – social media platform for business professionals

3. Dropbox – cloud-computing storage service

4. Adobe Acrobat – .pdf viewer and editor

5. Skype – remote video and voice or instant messaging platform

6. FaceBook – social media platform

7. Documents to Go – enables users to view Microsoft Office and Adobe files in the iOS environment.

8. Evernote – enables users to take electronic notes

9. GoodReader – annotate and read .pdfs

10. Mimecast – enables access of Mimecast email environment

Interesting results:

14. TrialPad – presentation tool tailored to attorneys

15. Westlaw Next – legal research system

27. iTimeKeep – time tracking utility

39. iJuror – jury selection app

Westlaw Next’s inclusion is notable, in that it signifies tablets are being used for legal research, but its location on the list shows the strong popularity of the more well-known productivity-oriented apps (dropbox, evernote, documents to go, etc.). The answer to the overarching question how much traction is there for tablets and mobile devices to be used for legal research is still a little nebulous. Will user behavior change to where tablets and mobile devices are commonly used to conduct legal research? It’s hard to say. Is there a legal research platform that could really exploit the unique characteristics of tablets or mobile devices, to the point where the mobile-version would offer something valuable that would distinguish it from the desktop version?

Also notable is that attorneys themselves are typically not the respondents to the survey questions–rather, it’s the membership of ILTA who are queried. And, it is important to point out, once again, that those queried were to only chose 5 apps, and not every app they have observed/encountered their attorneys using.

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