A rural attorney docks his iPhone into his iPad keyboard to produce a workhorse

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

iPad keyboard dock used with iPhone

Before the session on the paperless law office began at the American Bar Association’s Tech Show, the back of the room was already abuzz. The reason? An iPhone docked into an iPad keyboard.

Hunter Reece, a Fowler, Ind.-based lawyer with Barce & Reece, found himself at the center of attention. Reece, in a stroke of genius almost as inspired as the pairing of peanut butter and chocolate, was motivated one day to dock his iPhone in the Apple keyboard that he had received when he purchased his iPad. The pairing drew a steady stream of lawyers stopping to ask: How does it work? Do you like it? How much did it cost?

Hunter J. Reece Attorney

Reece explains, “When I bought my iPad, the keyboard was one of the things that came with it. Initially I didn’t use the keyboard very much, but one night I pulled out the keyboard, dusted it off and docked my iPhone into it.”

What he ended up with was an indispensible tool. The keyboard is smaller than the standard but is not a miniature version. The list price for the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock MC533LL/B Model A1359 that Reece uses is $71.95, but it’s available at Amazon starting at $49.95 . (Clickable affiliate link)

In an interview with Lawyer Tech Review, Reece explains how docking his iPhone in the Apple keyboard has produced a versatile mobile office.

Easier email access without the added 3G expense of an iPad

iPad dock keyboard by Apple

Like many lawyers in the Midwest with practices that involve rural clients and destinations, Reece finds himself on the road almost daily, traveling from courthouse to courthouse and frequently crossing more than one county line. He estimates that he regularly appears in five to seven courthouses, including federal court, where he handles consumer bankruptcies. Though he has his iPad loaded with PDFs of court documents, he only has the wi-fi version of the tablet device, meaning that he still relies on his iPhone for email.

Docking the iPhone in the keyboard, Reece discovered, made it possible for him to quickly respond to emails without running into the auto-correct hazards that plague everyone but seem to be particularly troublesome for men’s fingers. He could also answer emails in greater detail than he had before; the keyboard made the effort less frustrating.

More than just answering email

After discovering that typing longer emails was a snap with the keyboard, Reece also began pecking out short letters and memos to his staff. Because his iPhone has 3G access to the Internet, he can send it off whenever he’s ready rather than waiting to find a wi-fi connection for his iPad.

Seamless integration with the iPhone and easier viewing of the screen

Reece notes that “because the keyboard is an Apple brand, there aren’t any problems with integrating the devices, and there are keys on the keyboard that coincide with the iPhone, such as the Home button.”

iPad Keyboard plus iPhone at a Glance

  • Apple keyboard integrates with the iPhone.
  • Responding to emails is easier with the setup.
  • Longer email responses and short memos are easier to draft with the use of a keyboard.

Though there are Bluetooth keyboards that also work well with the iPhone, Reece has found that the docking feature is a convenient way to view his iPhone screen.

Reece admits that he has not run a rigorous test to compare how the iPhone battery performs with and without the keyboard but says that he has not noticed a huge drain on power. He also notes that the keyboard comes with a standard USB port that can be used to plug in to a power source.

The one drawback is that the sound on the iPhone is somewhat muffled while the keyboard is in use. However, a line-out port on the keyboard could be used to accommodate speakers.

Reece calls the keyboard durable and says the keys are nicely spring loaded. The size of the keyboard makes it easy to fit into his briefcase and carry to court.

Since pairing the iPad keyboard with the iPhone, Reece says, he often finds himself fielding questions from fellow lawyers about his setup. “With the keyboard, it is faster and more efficient to respond to staff emails,” he says – and it makes adapting the iPhone for a mobile office much easier for a lawyer who spends a lot of time out of the physical office.

To read more on software apps, gadgets for lawyers, reviews, and technology news, subscribe to our useful email newsletters or RSS feeds. You can also follow Lawyer Tech Review on Facebook and Twitter.


Also in Lawyer Tech Review:

  1. iPad Apps: Lawyer Reviews iAnnotate and TrialPad Apps
  2. iPad Use by Lawyers and Judges Continues to Grow
  3. iPhone Gadget Review: DigiPower Battery Pack