Some interesting and thought provoking data on legal use of Mobile Technology from the ABA Techreport 2014¹, highlighting a significant “Legal Mobility Disconnect”. Though 91% of lawyers use a smartphone, and 49% are increasingly using tablets, work related mobile device use by lawyers remains limited to checking email (95%) only.
This is surprising. The ABA Legal Technology Survey shows that lawyers, like the rest of us, use mobile devices increasingly frequently in their personal lives. For example, camera (used by 66% of legal smartphone users), GPS/Maps (77.5% of legal smartphone users), Instant messaging /Chat (44% of legal smartphone users), and Text Messaging (73% of legal smartphone users).
In addition, though lawyers regularly download apps to their mobile devices for personal use (as reference, by October 2014, 85 billion apps had been downloaded from the App Store²), the majority of lawyers have never downloaded a legal-specific app (57%) or a business app (55%) to their smartphone or tablet. This highlights a significant Legal Mobility Disconnect. Most lawyers surveyed are failing to use their mobile devices to their fullest potential for work.
Why is this and what will it take to reverse this trend? Security, cost and complexity are the most often cited barriers to mobile adoption in studies of mobile enterprise adoption³. These are good reasons why lawyers have been reluctant to embrace mobility for their work.
However, there is another critical reason for the “Legal Mobility Disconnect” that has yet to be discussed. That is usability / ease of use. Since the mobile computing revolution began in 2007 with the arrival of the iPhone, we have become very sophisticated and discerning mobile users. We are quick to embrace new capabilities that are truly valuable and are easy and intuitive to use. Until this is true, new capabilities remain niche and unused, embraced only by the most geeky early adopter users.
What do we mean by usability / ease of use in a legal context? Well, we have a lot to say on this topic that we will share in blog posts to come. In addition, we are working hard to deliver a new mobile app designed specifically for lawyers that addresses this problem.
Please stay tuned – there is a more coming soon on the Legal mobility disconnect.
1. Files for the win.
Lawyers are all about billing. Their billable work is frequently related to electronically stored docs: contracts, briefs, and supporting research. Make sure that your mobile solution provides your lawyers with secure mobile access to their files.
The challenge is that files are stored in an array of repositories. Most often files are stored on-premises in a Document Management (DM) system such as WorkSite. Files may also be stored on-premises in SharePoint or Windows/CIFS file shares. At some firms, files may be stored in NetDocuments, which is a growing cloud-hosted DM. Use of public cloud solutions like Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive for file sharing is less common.²
Wherever your firm stores its files, from WorkSite to OneDrive, make sure that your lawyers can access their files from smartphones and tablets. A lawyer needs to be able to quickly find a file, review it, then to email or share the file, along with pertinent advice, to the client.
2. User experience will make it or break it.
If you work in legal technology, you are well-familiar with this dynamic. Lawyers have high standards. Consumer apps are easy and intuitive. Lawyers want the same at work. If your mobility solution does not provide an experience which is on par with consumer apps it won’t be adopted. A single workspace app with email, files, DM, SharePoint, calendar, and contacts is ideal.
Be sure to include lawyers in your trial. Poor user experience is the leading cause of failure of enterprise mobile apps.³ There’s precious little worse than deploying a solution which becomes shelfware.
3. Keep it simple.
The world has changed. Buying physical hardware is old school. Your mobility solution should not rely on proprietary servers. If it is to be deployed on-premises, look for a solution based on Virtual Machines, HTTPS, Exchange, HTML5, that is, infrastructure which you use today. Standard IT infrastructure will keep your costs and maintenance efforts low. If your firm is ready for a cloud-hosted mobility solution, that is often the simplest way to proceed.
At Mobile Helix we specialize in mobile applications which make it easy for legal teams to be productive from smartphones and tablets. If you are exploring ways to provide mobility to your lawyers we would be happy to discuss your needs and how we might be able to help you.
2. Recent ILTA data indicates that 15% of law firms use Dropbox for large file sharing. This figure was down in 2014 from 2013.
3. Kony Enterprise Mobility Survey.