Are iPads the Best Option for Lawyers?

Reprinted with permission from the August 11, 2011 issue of Law Technology News. ©2011 ALM Media Properties, LLC.
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I was asked recently about my opinion and recommendations for law firms considering the purchase of iPads or Android tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, and the availability of apps for lawyers. Well, considering the fact that Apple just got an injunction against the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 in a German court, firms leaning toward an Android tablet standard may want to wait. While the German injunction doesn't guarantee that the U.S. Courts will follow the decision, it does mean that distribution of the device is now prohibited in the entire European Union, except for The Netherlands, and it was Britain's second-fastest selling tablet compared to the iPad 2.
Another tablet that could be considered is the BlackBerry Playbook, but even though the folks in the IT department might tell you it would be the most secure and easiest to bring into "the system," it has some serious shortcomings, such as the need for the BlackBerry phone to be near the tablet for it to view e-mail. This means if you want to read in bed, you'll be sleeping with your phone as well as the Playbook.
Even though Research In Motion has owned the legal market for many years, unless they once again begin to innovate rather than renovate, the BlackBerry's days are numbered. And that's without regard for the fact that the BlackBerry Messenger System is now being tied to the London riots, which might actually cause new security concerns.
Just as phones tend to morph into similar designs, tablets do too -- sometimes too much, according to the German Court. The way in which the devices operate is very similar across platforms. If you can operate one, you can operate another. So perhaps the choice should be based more upon other factors, such as availability of apps and accessories.
There's nothing wrong with the Android tablets, but they are so far behind in market share now that it discourages development of accessories by third-party vendors. Why spend the same amount of money developing something for a much smaller market, and for so many different devices? If you're making an accessory for the iPad, it needs to work with the iPad, iPad 2, or both. That's it.
A good case in point (no pun intended) was noted in my recent review on some innovative iPad cases, including one model that protects the iPad from dirt and dust (read: beaches, frozen drinks, and suntan oil). Another example is something I expect to be testing soon called the iKeyboard, a thin-film layer that allows you to use your touch-typing skills on the iPad without having an external keyboard, which in my opinion is getting close enough to a laptop that you might as well use a laptop. Neither of these are available on an Android tablet. Sometimes it's the extras that can influence a decision on otherwise similar products.
Although I'll admit to a love affair with my iPad, I am not a true fanboy, i.e., a zombie-like being who is convinced that anything made by Apple is better than anything made by anyone else, regardless of the facts. I use Windows on my laptops and aSamsung Nexus S phone.
There are many legal-specific iPad apps and I've reviewed several for Law Technology News and on my blog, but there are only a few available for Android. Some of these iPad apps for lawyers are TrialPad, Deponent, Exhibit A, Evidence, JuryTracker, Jury Duty, Litigator, CourtDaysPro, idoc REVIEW, and iJuror; and these are just some that I've reviewed, to name a few.
With a wide variety of accessories and legal-specific apps available from Apple and third-party vendors, the decision is not difficult. At this point, my personal choice and recommendation for anyone in the legal profession would be to go with the iPad and app-cessorize to your needs and heart's content.
Ted Brooks is a trial presentation consultant, author, and speaker, with offices in Los Angeles & San Francisco. E-mail: Blog: Court Technology and Trial Presentation.
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