Apple iPad – a disappointment for legal


A lawyer sits in an airport lounge, pulls out the iPad and connects to the firms document management system (DMS) through the Autonomy iManage App in the AppStore. She flicks through the correspondence folder, checks her teams filed emails and reads up on the clients comments to the agreement draft. She then decides to dictate some amendments to her secretary using the built-in microphone. Launching the agreement from the DMS, she highlights the paragraph needing amendment and also launches the BigHand dictation app ……

<Fail> No multitasking on the iPad!

There have been plenty of posts why the iPad falls short some I agree with some I don’t. But as a device for lawyers or other business usage I think it’s a case of “not there yet”.

As well as lack of multitasking, I think for a tablet to be a great tool for a lawyer it would need to replace the touch keyboard with a stylus/pen and good handwriting recognition. Marking up a document on a tablet with a pen surely is the “revolutionary” vision Mr Jobs?

It’s not far off and to be fair to Apple I never thought it would be a business tool, it’s a consumer device. But as a consumer I’m personally not convinced there is a gap between the smartphone and the netbook. I prefer the former on the move and if I wanted something a little more the later would be more convenient (and less tied into the Apple eco system!)

So after all the hype, the multitude of blog responses (including this one) I’m left with the feeling that with the iPad Apple have maybe left us with another :-

Apple Newton

The Apple Newton

“magical truly revolutionary product” – Steve Jobs on the iPad

Perhaps it’s just too early for the technology that will make the tablet a real killer device. I think there is a gap (especially in business) for tablet PC’s, but the revolution will only come when it’s as convenient as a pad of paper or a paper magazine!


12 Responses to “Apple iPad – a disappointment for legal”

  • Jason Says:

    For an alternative view of the iPad in legal take a look at The Mac Lawyers post :

  • Victor Medina Says:

    I’ve also posted in favor of using the iPad in a legal context.

  • Peninsulawyer Says:

    Jason – totally agree on the lack of multi-tasking.

    It doesn’t really bother me on the iPhone, but on a device like this I would want to be able to cut and paste from/to emails into Word, keep an eye on Twitter etc. without having to keep hitting the home button.

    I don’t know about handwriting recognition and a stylus – personally I probably prefer typing on a decent keyboard. What I think would make this the killer device for lawyers is a better way to review, markup and edit documents. Maybe this could use multi-touch for selecting, moving and highlighting text and flicking quickly and easily between pages, but with notes and annotations via a keyboard (or stylus if you prefer!).

    Interested to see what they look like in the flesh, but at the moment for mobile working I agree with you that I would spend my money on a netbook.

  • Kipper Says:

    Hmmm, I’m not so sure. The lack of multitasking can be a pain, but it does lead to a much more stable environment. If a lawyer can check his email, review a document from the DMS or show a presentation on the move, with a tablet thats very likely to be working, then use an app to fire up a virtual machine with all the facilities of the office desktop, then they can really work well on the move, and more effectively guarantee a minimum level of functionality, while allowing the exact same environment as an office desktop if necessary. It could be perfect for laywers on the move, though you’d have to be creative in your approach.

  • Cosma Says:

    Right with you on this one. Nice toy, but what’s it for?

    I am stunned by some of the reviews that I am reading that sing the praises. Sure it looks cool. Sure it may be a nice book reader. But other than carrying a library with you….

  • Derek Giles Says:

    I think Multitasking is not as much of an issue. All the application vendors need to realise this is a device we need to work with. We will write a special approval application for the iPad for our OpenPurchase application. It will need to open and close so quickly that you will not need to multi-task as you can only do one thing at a time! Ah sorry does that apply to attorneys?

  • Dataprivacyguru Says:

    What about the security/privacy issues?

    How is it set up to do encryption?

    Are the communication sessions protected?

    What about losing your ipad with client data on it?

  • Jonathan Says:

    I agree with you that there is not room between a “netbook” and a smartphone for a major product category.

    I believe that iPad is a defensive move by Apple. It sees lightweight notebook computers with “CULV” processors cutting into the market for netbooks and then eliminating the need for separate tablet computers, like the iPad.

    This will be driven by performance/price/power improvements in processors and price improvements in solid state disks.

    What will happen when the equivalent of today’s top end MacBook Air (with solid state disk) is priced where a low end notebook computer or high end netbook is today?

  • Bram Braakman Says:

    Hi Jason, I do not agree with your skepticism about the iPad but understand your points. Usage within law firms might take a few years to get started (seriously). For smaller (especially single-person) practices the iPad will be embraced a useful tool for anyone who likes digital tools (most lawyers actually do not).

    Here are more of my thoughts on it:

  • Toronto Law Says:

    A fantastic Attorney should dedicate their company in providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses coming from all sizes as well in a wide array of areas. Ensuring the firm covers a broad range of cases involving all levels of complexity is vital to legal success.

  • Temple Colli Says:

    The affect this product will have on the electronic world is big. It will give us a slightly bigger excuse to waste time messing around on the net. I would be influenced to buy the iPad if it cleaned up my room and did my washing!

  • Richard Hill Says:

    Good points here. At my current company we have tried to address them.

    We have developed a middleware to plug smart phones/ IPads into an existing DMS with a small footprint in a short time. This is available now for the IPad.

    We have solved some of the problems you mention in your first post regarding multitasking by using annotations of documents.

    I don’t want to say too much because we are not ready for release.

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