The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) is a peer networking organization for people who work in the legal technology field, such as the people who work in law firm IT departments. I know that the folks in my law firm's tech department frequently take advantage of ILTA resources when seeking advice on selecting and working with hardware and software designed for the legal market and when recruiting new hires. A few months ago, I reported on the ILTA 2014 Annual Technology Purchasing Survey, and while that survey about what law firms buy was interesting, there is a limit to how much it tells you about the iPad and iPhone because so many attorneys purchase those devices themselves.
ILTA recently released the results of ILTA's 2014 Technology Survey, which is based on the input of 454 law firms. ILTA has firms of all size, but ILTA tends towards the larger law firms. Of the 454 law firms that responded to this survey, 33% had under 50 attorneys, 31% had 50 to 149 attorneys, 19% had 150 to 349 attorneys, 10% had 350 to 699 attorney, and 8% had over 700 attorneys. It is also worth noting that ILTA firms are not Mac shops. When asked to identify the primary desktop operating system, virtually all picked Windows 7. A handful answered that they are primarily using Windows 8, Windows Vista or Windows XP. Only two law firms indicated "other," which I presume is Mac but could be something else — could be Microsoft Bob so far as I know.
For the law firms represented by ILTA, this comprehensive survey reveals a lot about the technology being used by lawyers at these firms. I'm focusing today on the part of the survey that asked about mobile devices.
The survey revealed that 90% of law firms have attorneys using iPads, 44% of law firms have attorneys using an Android tablet, 42% have attorneys using a Microsoft Surface tablet, 17% have attorneys using a Windows tablet (other than Microsoft Surface), 5% have attorneys using a BlackBerry Playbook, and 8% report that none of their attorneys use a tablet. As for the 90% of law firms that report iPad use at their firm, that represents a slight increase; it was 89% in 2013, 88% in 2012, and 74% in 2011. These numbers are consistent with the 2014 ABA Tech Survey, in which 84% of attorneys who use a tablet reported that they use an iPad.
When asked to estimate the percentage of attorneys that use tablets such as iPads, the average response was 40% — up from 37% last year, and 26% in 2012. This was slightly less than, but similar to, what we saw in the 2014 ABA Tech Survey, which found that 49% of all attorneys were using a tablet.
In the Executive Summary, ILTA notes that while tablets are popular, they are an adjunct to, not a replacement for, laptop computers:
A trend we’ve been watching closely is the move toward tablets and the possible eclipse of the laptop as the new standard for attorneys on the move. Had that trend taken hold and laptops been replaced with tablets, it might have simplified our support considerably. But the tablet takeover hasn’t materialized, as far as the data tells us. Although 40% of firms now report tablets in use, they are increasingly an adjunct to, rather than a replacement of, the laptop. Laptop use is at its highest level ever with a median of 35% of attorneys using that technology in place of a desktop.
I don't find this very surprising. Although I do frequently use my iPad as a laptop replacement — I virtually always travel with my iPad instead of a laptop, and I use my iPad, not my laptop, when I am giving presentations — I can't imagine not having a laptop computer at my desk for those rare occasions when I do need to move my computer to another location. And I suspect that I make far more extensive use of my iPad than many other attorneys. The iPad is an amazingly useful tool, one that I think can help virtually every attorney, but I see it as an additional tool; I don't see it replacing laptop computers for the foreseeable future.
The ILTA survey did not ask which percentage of attorneys use an iPhone. Instead, the survey asked about platforms in use at law firms, such as the number of law firms that have attorneys using iOS, which includes both iPhones and iPads. The survey revealed that basically all law firms, 98%, have attorneys using iOS, whereas 77% of law firms have attorneys using an Android devices, 56% have attorneys using BlackBerry devices, and 44% have attorneys using Windows Mobile or the newer Surface operating system.
82% of law firms report that they provide some sort of financial support for smartphone hardware, which includes 47% that purchase the hardware, 36% that provide a stipend or allowance towards the purchase of a smartphone, and 25% where the user pays the full cost of the smartphone. (Those numbers don't add up to 100%, so some firms must be doing more than one.) In only 5% of firms does the user pay the full cost of monthly data service; the rest of the firms either pay all or some part of the monthly data service.
When asked to name the top three technology issues or annoyances in the law firm, the #1 response was security and risk management. Thus, it comes as no surprise that 83% of law firms report that they force their attorneys to use a passcode on the lock screen. One way to do this is to use Mobile Device Management (MDM) software. Most firms (54%) don't use MDM, but for those who do, popular choices include MobileIron, Good Technology and Airwatch.
Wireless Email Platforms
Microsoft may not make the iPhone or iPad, but it does make the technology that most law firms use to get email to those devices. The survey asked law firms what types of wireless email platforms are being supported. Microsoft Exchange (ActiveSync) is supported at 87% of law firms. BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which had been in use in 84% of law firms back in 2011, is now only used in 48% of law firms. GoodLink Server is used by 9% of law firms. 4% just allow for standard IMAP connections to the email server. All of these are solutions that can work with an iPhone or iPad.
About half of all law firms said that they either support one wireless email platform, or they are working to standardize on a single platform. For those firms, Microsoft Exchange (ActiveSync) was the clear winner at 84%. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which was the standard for 58% of law firms back in 2011, is now the desired sole standard for only 4%. GoodLink Server was named by 5% of law firms, 4% identified a hosting service from an outside provider or cellphone carrier, and 3% responded "other."
The ILTA survey asked law firms to indicate "to the best of your knowledge, which non-native tablet/iPad apps are most used at your firm for business purposes." I doubt that IT departments know all of the apps being used by their attorneys, but I'm sure that most do have some sense of the popular apps. The top 30 apps, identified by at least 5% of the law firms, were:
- Citrix Receiver
- Adobe Acrobat
- Documents to Go
- WorkSite Mobility
- Dragon Dictate
- VMware View
- Good Messaging/Enterprise
- PDF Expert
That list is similar to the apps reported in last year's survey, except that last year, at least 5% of the survey respondents identified remote access apps that connect to an attorney's specific computer, such as LogMeIn or GoToMyPC. There are some surprising omissions from that list, including Microsoft Office apps such as Word, TranscriptPad and any of the many apps that contain the text of laws and rules.