Lighter than a desktop, more powerful than an iPhone, the iPad is a popular choice in the legal community

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

iPad use by lawyers and judges

The next time you go to court, don’t be surprised if you spot an iPad sitting next to the judge’s gavel. The same holds true for lawyers. In addition to legal files, you might very well see Apple tablets being pulled from briefcases.

Last fall, St. Louis personal injury lawyer Spencer Farris wrote a guest article about Apple’s new tablet for our sister site, Legal Media Matters, titled, Apple iPad Review for Lawyers. In the article, Farris noted the iPad is a good stand-in for his laptop in depositions, court hearings and seminars. Outfitting it with a Bluetooth keyboard, he says, has made note-taking and document editing a snap. He’s even uploaded PowerPoint presentations to the device.

iPad as an alternative to heavy files

The interest in iPads among lawyers and judges also caught the attention of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In an article titled Tablet computers a hit with lawyers, judges, reporter Valerie Schremp Hahn notes that the iPad is popping up in St. Louis-area law firms, as well as federal and state courtrooms. The light weight and small size of the tablet computers are particularly attractive to lawyers and judges, who often must lug around heavy file folders, laptops and briefcases.

At a Glance: iPads and the Legal Profession

  • Lightweight and small size makes the iPad an attractive alternative to a laptop.
  • More robust features than a smart phone.
  • Bluetooth keyboards can make document editing and note taking easier.
  • Data privacy and encryption issues may not satisfy the privacy laws of all countries.

U.S. District Court Judge E. Richard Webber was an iPad skeptic when the federal judges were given the option of getting an Apple tablet. Since giving the device a try, though, he has become a convert.

Lawyer Anthony Gray praises the device as a productivity booster and says that he treats the iPad as an extension of his office, using it to take notes about phone calls and access documents. “I can do the work of 10 people with that iPad,” he tells the Post-Dispatch.

The article also mentions such law-specific apps as iJuror and Jury Tracker. Both are designed to help lawyers during the jury selection process.

Lawyers aren’t the only ones interested in the iPad. iPads are popping up on college campuses and the tablet computer is being considered a possible alternative to print textbooks. Designers and photographers have also found iPads a useful way to introduce their work to potential clients and customers.

iPad and Data Privacy

Of course, college students, designers and photographers may not have the same data privacy and encryption issues when in it comes to using an iPad. While there are data encryption options that can be applied to the iPad to provide greater privacy, those options may not satisfy the data privacy laws of every country. Recently, a white paper published by Informática 64 argued that the iPad’s data protection measures do not comply with the laws of Spain — at least as those laws apply to certain industries and when a single iPad is used by more than one person.

What do you think? Is the iPad a toy or a productivity booster when it comes to the practice of law? Are you using the Apple tablet? What has your experience with the device been? Do you have concerns about data privacy?

To keep up to date on the latest news and giveaways offered by Lawyer Tech Review, subscribe to our email newsletters or RSS feeds. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.