Small Law Firms, Technology

My Month With An iPad

When the iPad came out, legal technologists did what they always do to try and appear relevant — they went crazy. If you don’t read anything written by legal technologists, let me summarize: 1. New shiny toy or software or app comes out; and 2. Legal technologist feverishly writes that it’s a “game changer” for lawyers.

Although anytime a new Apple product comes out it creates a feverish vibe, bringing unemployed lawyers and other Mommy’s-basement-dwellers and their lawn chairs and tents to Apple Stores everywhere, the iPad, nothing more than a big iPhone, was different. Books would be written, and CLE seminars for which no state Bar would ever consider giving CLE credits — “iPad for Lawyers,” or “How Lawyers Can Use an iPad,” or “Using the IPad, for Lawyers” — sprouted up all over the country. We were all told we had to have one because… because.

I, hoping it wasn’t true that the legal technologists trying hard to find a way to make a living telling everyone that law practices would “die” without one, ignored the hype and continued to try and get by with a laptop. I first saw an iPad in court when a lawyer showed me his and said, “Look, you can watch movies on it.” Having never had the thought of watching a movie in court, I didn’t see the urgency to get one, plus, of course, I hate technology. Hate it.

Three years and a couple hundred clients later, I asked my daughter if the iPad 2 sitting in her room collecting dust was available for Daddy to use. It was time to see the miracles that would come my way by carrying around a big iPhone with a pink cover…

I first deleted about 100 game apps. Then I added a PDF reader app, another app to sign PDFs that I have on my Android, and… yeah, I think that’s about it. I see it has an email app and an internet app. Amazing. Mine also has 3G because although I know it’s blasphemy, I don’t spend my days in coffee shops scarfing free Wi-Fi pretending I’m living the life of a lawyer.

Here’s how the iPad has changed my life:

In the month I’ve had it, I’ve never taken it to the office because, well, I have an office with a computer. I took it on a trip where I had a hearing and a meeting and it sat in my bag. If there’s a way to use track changes in Word documents, I don’t know about it. It’s a lot easier to type long emails and documents on a laptop, so if you’re a lawyer that actually writes things instead of playing games or watching videos, I don’t see the use unless you want to get a keyboard which, well, just turns it into a modified laptop.

Last week, I had to travel to a meeting for a day where I just needed some documents so I just brought it and not the laptop. It was fine, easier to carry around than the laptop. Had I wanted to do other work, I would have wanted the laptop.

I do like that cover thing though, the one that keeps it off when covered? It keeps the battery charged when not in use. Oh, and I updated it to iOS 7. It looks different.

And so I’m sorry to be the buzzkill to the “iPad for lawyers” crew. I hope this doesn’t keep them from putting food on the table by convincing naive lawyers that having one of these things means anything about being a better lawyer and there are all kinds of secrets. There is no iPad for lawyers. I trust though that I’ll be receiving emails telling me that I’m missing out on an app that will change my life or law practice or both, or that I “just don’t understand.”

I’m going to keep the iPad. If I remember where I put it, I may open it from time to time to read something or sign something or check out a website. I’ve always seen tech for what it is though: something that adds convenience to life. It does nothing more, regardless of what anyone charges you money to hear or read. It’s nothing to hate or love, it’s just something with a battery and an on/off switch. Really.

Now where’s my laptop cord… I need to charge this thing.


Brian Tannebaum will never “get on board” at the advice of failed lawyers who were never a part of the past but claim to know “the future of law.” He represents clients, every day, in criminal and lawyer discipline cases without the assistance of an Apple device, and usually gets to work (in an office, not a coffee shop) by 9 a.m. No client has ever asked if he’s on Twitter. He can be reached at bt@tannebaumweiss.com.

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