I’m not usually a late adopter, but in the case of tablet computing, I was two years behind the curve. My first glimpse of a tablet led me to believe it was just a big smart phone–without the phone–and bigger wasn’t necessarily better. Over time, my view of tablets evolved. I saw so many of [...]
I’m not usually a late adopter, but in the case of tablet computing, I was two years behind the curve. My first glimpse of a tablet led me to believe it was just a big smart phone–without the phone–and bigger wasn’t necessarily better. Over time, my view of tablets evolved. I saw so many of my attorney colleagues making valuable use of tablets in court, in meetings and while traveling that I knew I wanted one. It became clear that the tablet’s size was well-suited to bridge the gap between the diminutive smart phone and having to lug a laptop around. Seeking to capitalize on that sweet spot, I finally got a tablet computer. These are my techno-lawyer observations of the must-have technology for the modern attorney.
The most valuable function of my tablet is the calendar. I used to use a day-planner–religiously. When the first smart phones allowed me to put an entire binder of information in my pocket, I was hooked. However, navigating a calendar on a small screen was always a pain. Now that I do my calendaring on a tablet, I could never go back. I even prefer it to viewing a calendar on a traditional computer because of the ease of navigating using a flick of my finger. I now schedule client appointments and court appearances with confidence that I’m looking at all my calendars in one place (the tablet calendar is synchronized with all of my other calendars automatically).
Apps that really make the tablet shine for lawyers include those designed for jury selection and calculating due dates for specific jurisdictions based on the rules of that jurisdiction. You can get most of the same apps for both smart phones and tablets, but the tablet’s larger size makes all the difference in interacting with information like that about jurors presented in a life-sized format we lawyers became used to when yellow note pads filled our brief cases.
Annotating Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) files, the format used by most courts for electronic filing, is incredibly easy on a tablet using one of the apps designed for that task. This makes reviewing evidence and pleadings on the go more efficient than ever.
Security on many tablets is cutting edge. The data and apps on some tablet devices can be backed up over Wi-Fi. This feature, combined with the ability to track a lost or stolen device and even remotely wipe the device’s data in such situations, makes use of a tablet more secure than many local computing environments.
My favorite use of a tablet is reading magazines and newspapers, something I would never attempt on a smart phone–indeed, something I wouldn’t even be inclined to do while sitting at my computer. Holding a tablet is more like holding a book or magazine, and that allows me to get comfortable before sitting down with my favorite reading material.
If you are on the edge about these devices, take the plunge. I haven’t spoken to a lawyer yet whose tablet is gathering dust. You’ll soon wonder how you lived without one.