Bassford Remele is a full service litigation law firm in Minneapolis with about 50 attorneys. The firm was founded in 1882, but being old doesn't mean that the firm cannot keep up with the times. This week, the law firm is giving an iPad to every single one of its attorneys.
I first heard about this decision when one of the firm's attorneys asked me whether he should get the 16GB, 32GB or 64GB version of the iPad; the firm was going to pay for the 16GB version and let the attorneys pay the difference if they wanted other models. As I told him, 16GB is fine if you won't use a lot of media on your iPad (pictures, videos, music), but 32GB is probably the sweet spot if you do plan to have a lot of media. The firm then decided to eliminate the anxiety over which model to get — and the administrative nightmare of ordering different models for different attorneys — by just giving every attorney the 64GB version, even though this is probably more memory than most attorneys will ever need. The firm is providing the Wi-Fi only version of the iPad, but is also providing each attorney with a Verizon MiFi with 4G and 5GB of data a month.
I'm told that the firm knew that the iPads would work well because for several years now, many Bassford attorneys have been using iPhones, and for many months now several have been using iPads. The iPads work with the firm's Microsoft Exchange e-mail system, plus the firm uses Citrix so attorneys can use the free Citrix app to access all desktop applications.
Kevin Hickey, who chairs the firm's Commercial Litigation Practice Group and the firm's Technology Committee, tells me that he first got an iPad for Christmas of 2010 to store and organize his music collection and use as an e-reader, but he soon learned how useful can be in a commercial litigation practice. Hickey explains:
I bring it to depositions and use it as a note taker using the Penultimate App and then send the notes via PDF to be stored in our document management system. This reduces the number of hardly used legal pads filling up a paper file and makes the notes readily available. I bring it to hearings with all the briefs on it instead of lugging a large file to the courthouse. It also makes checking emails with attachments much easier and of course web navigation is a breeze. Recently, I brought it to a marketing lunch and pulled up an article of interest to a client and showed him our web site with the pictures and bios of those who would be on the legal team.
I have had these same types of experiences using an iPad in my practice, and I'm sure that the same is true for many of you. Positive experiences by attorneys such as Hickey led to the firm's recent decision to give iPads to everyone.
I remember that when I first started working at law firms back in 1992 as a summer law clerk, many attorneys didn't use e-mail, something hard to imagine today. Not many years ago, it would have seemed cutting edge for a law firm to give each of its attorneys a smartphone. Today, it seems very forward-thinking for Bassford Remele to give each of its attorneys an iPad, but I suspect that it won't be long before this, too, becomes common. For example, earlier this year, Karen Donovan of the New York Times identified three law firms in New York that made iPads available to many of their attorneys. (Proskauer Rose made iPads available to its 700 lawyers, Holland & Knight gave iPads to all of its associates, and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler gave all its associates a $675 Apple gift card to cover the cost of an iPad.) And late last year, David Lat of Above the Law noted that Edelson McGuire in Chicago gave all of its attorneys iPads. I'm sure that there are other examples out there ... and that there will be many more soon.
Thanks to Kevin Hickey, Steve Sitek, and the other folks at Bassford Remele (including Laurie Pearcy, the Director of Administration) for providing me with information about the firm's recent decision. And best of luck to all of the new iPad-owning attorneys in Minneapolis. If they were at my firm, I'd right now be sending them an e-mail similar to this one.
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