Every year, the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center conducts a survey to gauge attorney use of legal technology. My discussion of the 2011 report is here, and my discussion of the 2010 report is here.) No survey is perfect, but the ABA tries hard to ensure that its survey has statistical significance, and every year this is the best resource I am aware of to reveal how the approximately one million attorneys in the United States are using technology. This year's report reveals a surge in iPhone and iPad use among U.S. attorneys.
BlackBerry's loss is the iPhone's gain.
This year, 89% of attorneys reported that they use a smartphone for law-related task. Last year the number was 88%, so there is essentially no change. The big switch is in the smartphone that attorneys are using.
In 2011, 46% of the 88% of attorneys using a smartphone reported that they used a BlackBerry, which means that about 40% of all attorneys were using a BlackBerry. This year, only 31% of the 89% of attorneys using a smartphone were using a BlackBerry, which means that only 28% of all attorneys were using a BlackBerry. What happened to those 12% of all attorneys who had been using a BlackBerry?
Almost all of them switched to the iPhone. The number of attorneys using an Android increased from 15% in 2011 to 16% in 2012. However, the number of attorneys using an iPhone increased to 44%. This 44% number is 49% of the 89% of all attorneys using a smartphone in 2012, so another way to look at this is that if an attorney is using a smartphone, there is about a 50-50 chance that he or she is using an iPhone.
Here is a chart that I prepared to show all of this. Yes, I see that the pie chart adds up to 101%; that is because I rounded to whole numbers to keep it simple and account for the margin of error:
If you take a look at my similar pie chart from last year, it is easy to see the surge in attorneys using an iPhone.
As I reported last year, there are around a million attorneys in the United States, so that means that around 440,000 attorneys in the U.S. use an iPhone.
How are these attorneys using their smartphones? 30% of attorneys using smartphones report downloading a law-related app, most likely a research app such as the apps offered by Fastcase, Westlaw and Lexis. (Fastcase had the most use reported, which doesn't surprise me because it is a fantastic app and unlike the competition is free.) Other apps that attorneys report downloading include Dragon Dictation (which is of course unnecessary for new iPhones that have Siri), Documents to Go, LinkedIn, Adobe Reader and Dropbox.
Attorney iPad use surges
In 2011, 15% of attorneys reported using a tablet device for law-related tasks, and 13% of that 15% were iPad users. In 2012, this number more than doubled. 33% of all attorneys now report using a tablet device for law-related tasks. 91% of that 33% are using an iPad, so that means that about 30% of all attorneys now use an iPad. (For the 3% of attorneys who use a non-iPad tablet device, virtually all of them report using an Android device.)
What are those attorneys doing with their iPads? Pretty much what you would expect. Over 80% are regularly using an iPad to read e-mail and use the Internet, and almost everyone else reports doing so occasionally. Over half regularly use their iPads to work with their contacts and calendars, about about another 25% do so occasionally. About a third regularly use iPad research apps (which I'm sure includes the same apps they are using on the iPhone: Fastcase, Westlaw and Lexis).
I'm always interested to learn how often lawyers use their iPads to create documents. According to the survey, 21% of lawyers do so regularly, and 29% do so occasionally. Those numbers are actually higher than I had expected.
It also appears that attorneys are mostly buying their own iPads and just bringing them to the office to do work. 86% of attorneys using tablets report that they bought their own device. This is how it works at my law firm; attorneys buy their own iPads, but the tech folks at our firm help people to configure the devices.
I can't vouch that the ABA survey numbers are 100% accurate, but they do match what I have been seeing anecdotally; lots of attorneys giving up the BlackBerry to switch to an iPhone, and a surge in iPad users. In fact, the ABA data was collected during the first few months of 2012, but I know a bunch of attorneys who purchased their first iPad during the last few weeks. I suspect that one of the biggest changes between the numbers in thie 2012 report and next year's 2013 report is that we'll see even more attorneys using iPads next year.