Every year, the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center conducts a survey to gauge the use of legal technology by attorneys in the United States. My thoughts on the prior reports are located here: 2012, 2011, 2010. 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. Yesterday, the ABA released Volume VI of the report titled Mobile Lawyers. This year's report shows that a huge and growing number of attorneys are using iPhones and iPads.
Over half of all attorneys now use an iPhone
This year's survey reveals that 91% of all attorneys use a smartphone, and that percentage increases with the size of the law firm. For example, smartphones are used by 85% of solo attorneys, 90% of attorneys in a firm of 10 to 49 lawyers, 97% of attorneys in firms of 100 to 499 lawyers, and 99% of lawyers in firms of 500 or more lawyers. About two-third of attorneys using smartphones are using a device that they own, while about one-third are using a smartphone assigned to the attorney by their law firms.
For the 91% of attorneys who are using smartphones, what smartphones are they using? The survey reveals that 62% are using an iPhone, 22% are using an Android phone, 16% are using a BlackBerry, about 1% are using Windows Mobile, and about 1% either don't know or selected "other". Yes, that adds up to 102%, but perhaps some folks use more than one device. Here is a pie chart to give you a sense of the big picture:
As you can see, 2013 is the first year in which we can say that over half of the attorneys in the United States are using an iPhone.
This is the third year in a row that the ABA survey has collected this kind of information, which gives us the ability to see how the percentages have changed over time:
Over just the last two years, we have seen the BlackBerry drop from being an item used by 40% of all attorneys to only 14%: a drop of 26 percentage points. At the same time, the iPhone has grown from 31% to 55%: a gain of 24 percentage points. Android has also seen some growth, from 15% to 20%, and the number of attorneys who don't use a smartphone at all has dropped from 12% to 9%. Thus, while some former BlackBerry users are now using Android phones, it appears that for the most part, BlackBerry's loss from 2011 to 2013 has been the iPhone's gain.
What are attorneys doing with their smartphones? The survey reveals that most attorneys are using their smartphones for e-mail, telephone, calendar, contacts, the Internet and text messaging. Less than 10% of lawyers report using their smartphones for expense tracking, time and billing, document creation, spreadsheets, web conferencing or presentations.
Over 400,000 attorneys use an iPad
Apple released the first iPad in 2010. The survey data for 2011, 2012 and 2013 has been consistent in one respect; every year, about 9 out of every 10 attorneys using a tablet have used an iPad. Specifically, the percentage was 89% in 2011, 91% in 2012, and 91% in 2013. (For those few attorneys who use a tablet but don't use an iPad, more than half of them use an Android tablet and the small remainder use a Windows tablet or something else.) The survey reveals that over 80% of attorneys using a tablet own their device; less than 20% of tablet users are using something issued to them by their law firm.
While the iPad's incredibly dominant marketshare for attorneys has remained relatively steady over the years, what has changed is the number of attorneys using a tablet at all. In 2011, about 15% of attorneys used a tablet. In 2012, about 33% of attorneys used a tablet. This year, 48% of all attorneys report using a tablet. With about a million attorneys in the United States and with the iPad being used by 91% of the 48% of attorneys using a tablet, this means that in 2013 there are around 436,000 attorneys using an iPad.
These numbers are impressive in their own right, but I also see a lot of room for growth. We now see 9 out of every 10 attorneys using a smartphone, and while I don't expect tablet use by attorneys to get quite that high in the short term, it could get close. The iPad is ideal for reading and carrying around documents, managing email and using the Internet, tasks that attorneys do every single day. I rarely make it through a week in my office without another attorney sticking his or her head in my door to proudly announce that they "finally" got an iPad. I expect this trend to continue.
A large market
With around a million attorneys in the U.S., these number suggest that there are over a half a million attorneys using an iPhone and almost a half a million attorneys using an iPad. That's a lot of potential customers for law-related iOS apps. This is good news for those who already create apps for lawyers, and hopefully will encourage others to create even more great legal apps.