There are lots of different types of lawyers, but all of us do one basic thing: help clients solve problems. Back in 2011, Portland attorneys Jamie Daigle of Stewart, Sokol & Gray and solo attorney Bryan Churchill recognized the value of an iPad in the practice of law, but thought that they could solve some of the problems with holding and displaying an iPad. They wanted a way to hold the iPad with one hand without obscuring the screen to make it easier to read documents and show them off to others. They also wanted a way to prop up the iPad at different angles. Working with some basic materials and a lot of tape, they come up with a basic idea for an iPad case that would solve these problems. They took their idea to Fuse, a design shop in Portland, which helped the attorneys turn their basic idea into a product that could be manufactured. To raise funds to make the product, they first turned to Kickstarter, but never achieved their funding goal of $75,000. So instead, they decided to use their own funds to make it. By the end of 2012, they were selling units from the Clutch for iPad website and shipping units to customers.
The attorneys behind the Clutch for iPad sent me a free review unit last month and I've been trying it out with my third generation iPad. (The Clutch does not fit the original iPad, but it works with the iPad 2, the third generation iPad and the current fourth generation iPad.) It is an interesting product that I think will appeal to a lot of attorneys and other professionals.
Attaching the Clutch for iPad is simple. There are two parts. One part is a rubberized case. It just takes a few seconds to stretch the edges of the case and wrap it around the four sides of the iPad. The other part is the handle.
Once your iPad is in the case, you attach the handle to the case. There are five different locations — one in the center, and one at each of the four sides. To attach the handle you simply snap it in. To remove the handle, you press the red release button. When the handle is in the center location, it can spin 360°. On the four edges, it snaps into only one position.
The Clutch is a versatile iPad stand because it can be placed at so many different angles. The website shows these five positions which are useful for everything from typing to FaceTime video chats to watching movies:
Those are all great, but when I am using my iPad at my desk, my favorite position is this one. The angle at which I took the photograph might make this look unsteady, but in reality this is a stable position, even when you tap and swipe your finger on the screen:
Another feature of the Clutch for iPad is that it provides you with a handle on the back of your iPad. This lets you hold the iPad with just one hand. It is also nice if you are showing off your iPad screen to someone else because your hands are not covering the edges of the iPad; you can just have one hand behind the iPad and use your other hand to point and tap.
As a handle, the Clutch for iPad works fine, but frankly I wish it worked a little better. The size is nice and it is comfortable in your hand. However, I wish that the handle had more friction so that minimal squeezing was necessary. In my opinion, the FreeOneHand, which I reviewed a year ago, works better as a handle because you can place your fingers into the holes and the device rests in your hand without you having to exert any energy. I often read long documents, such as depositions or long briefs, on my iPad. I love the idea of holding it in one hand, but my hand got tired more quickly using the Clutch for iPad than using the FreeOneHand. Having said that, the Clutch for iPad is definitely better than holding just the iPad with one or two hands for a long period of time.
For a second opinion, Portland attorney Josh Barrett — who ran the great, gone-but-not-forgotten site TabletLegal — tried a prototype in late 2011 and said that he found it "comfortable to hold and use" and thought that the "round handle takes little effort to hold and was a natural fit in my hand."
The final feature of the Clutch for iPad is that the handle is hollow. Thus, you can use it for storage. You can easily fit earbuds and a USB to iPad cord in it, although the iPad's power's supply is too large to fit. (You can fit the smaller power supply that comes with an iPhone, but it will not charge the iPad as quickly.) The storage compartment is a nice extra feature, and shows that a lot of attention to detail went into this product.
If you want to see the Clutch for iPad in action, James Daigle created a few videos that are up on YouTube including one showing you how to assemble and use the Clutch for iPad, one showing the different positions of the handle and one in which Daigle and Churchill themselves explain the key features. But I especially like these two videos created by using the fun movie trailer feature of iMovie in which a girl (I'm guessing Daigle's daughter) shows off the Clutch for iPad.
I like the Clutch for iPad. It is a fantastic stand and can hold my iPad in just about any position I could possibly want when my iPad is at my desk. It works fine as a handle, although as noted above, it is not the best iPad handle I've tried. And the storage compartment is a nice touch. Perhaps most of all, I'm impressed that Bryan Churchill and Jamie Daigle were smart enough to recognize a need, creative enough to develop a solution and persistent enough to see the product through to completion. I suspect that these qualities make them fine lawyers as well.