The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Are iPads the Best Option for Lawyers?

Reprinted with permission from the August 11, 2011 issue of Law Technology News. ©2011 ALM Media Properties, LLC.
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I was asked recently about my opinion and recommendations for law firms considering the purchase of iPads or Android tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, and the availability of apps for lawyers. Well, considering the fact that Apple just got an injunction against the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 in a German court, firms leaning toward an Android tablet standard may want to wait. While the German injunction doesn't guarantee that the U.S. Courts will follow the decision, it does mean that distribution of the device is now prohibited in the entire European Union, except for The Netherlands, and it was Britain's second-fastest selling tablet compared to the iPad 2.
Another tablet that could be considered is the BlackBerry Playbook, but even though the folks in the IT department might tell you it would be the most secure and easiest to bring into "the system," it has some serious shortcomings, such as the need for the BlackBerry phone to be near the tablet for it to view e-mail. This means if you want to read in bed, you'll be sleeping with your phone as well as the Playbook.
Even though Research In Motion has owned the legal market for many years, unless they once again begin to innovate rather than renovate, the BlackBerry's days are numbered. And that's without regard for the fact that the BlackBerry Messenger System is now being tied to the London riots, which might actually cause new security concerns.
Just as phones tend to morph into similar designs, tablets do too -- sometimes too much, according to the German Court. The way in which the devices operate is very similar across platforms. If you can operate one, you can operate another. So perhaps the choice should be based more upon other factors, such as availability of apps and accessories.
There's nothing wrong with the Android tablets, but they are so far behind in market share now that it discourages development of accessories by third-party vendors. Why spend the same amount of money developing something for a much smaller market, and for so many different devices? If you're making an accessory for the iPad, it needs to work with the iPad, iPad 2, or both. That's it.
A good case in point (no pun intended) was noted in my recent review on some innovative iPad cases, including one model that protects the iPad from dirt and dust (read: beaches, frozen drinks, and suntan oil). Another example is something I expect to be testing soon called the iKeyboard, a thin-film layer that allows you to use your touch-typing skills on the iPad without having an external keyboard, which in my opinion is getting close enough to a laptop that you might as well use a laptop. Neither of these are available on an Android tablet. Sometimes it's the extras that can influence a decision on otherwise similar products.
Although I'll admit to a love affair with my iPad, I am not a true fanboy, i.e., a zombie-like being who is convinced that anything made by Apple is better than anything made by anyone else, regardless of the facts. I use Windows on my laptops and aSamsung Nexus S phone.
There are many legal-specific iPad apps and I've reviewed several for Law Technology News and on my blog, but there are only a few available for Android. Some of these iPad apps for lawyers are TrialPad, Deponent, Exhibit A, Evidence, JuryTracker, Jury Duty, Litigator, CourtDaysPro, idoc REVIEW, and iJuror; and these are just some that I've reviewed, to name a few.
With a wide variety of accessories and legal-specific apps available from Apple and third-party vendors, the decision is not difficult. At this point, my personal choice and recommendation for anyone in the legal profession would be to go with the iPad and app-cessorize to your needs and heart's content.
Ted Brooks is a trial presentation consultant, author, and speaker, with offices in Los Angeles & San Francisco. E-mail: Blog: Court Technology and Trial Presentation.


  1. Having both a Xoom and an iPad I must say the widgets in Android make it a more _useful_ device, you always see your latest emails appointments and feeds in the background at once. In my case the iPad has become the family toilet toy and never leaves the bathroom :) and the Xoom is what has the Sim card for 3g.
    Re accessoires, I agree that the best ones are available for the iPad. But with Android's USB OTG support any usb device (keyboard) can work with a Android tab.
    The main reason why I have problems with the iPad for lawyers is the _necessity_ of syncing it with an iTunes account and that Apple owns the data on iPads.
    PS: The secure messaging system BB offers I would rather count positive in legal content over an open connection that apple, goverments and telecoms can listen into. But I dont see the BB playbook as strong enough competitor.

  2. The best tablet for lawyers would be one actual fine point pen/stylus, rather than one that has the resolution of a crayon such as the ipad...

    This week Lenovo will release a Thinkpad tablet running Android 3.1. Differentiators are the pen, the ability to run Flash content, encryption for the device, encryption for its SD Card memory (if the user wishes), actual USB ports and a mini HDMI ports. It will have the ability to attach keyboards when large amounts of typing are required, notetaking with the comes with Documents to Go for viewing and editing Office 2007 format documents.

    ipad has an edge in the number of apps out since its been out a bit longer. But the number of android based activations in the market will slowly change this.

    Overall, when you get a chance to review the Thinkpad Tablet (not the ideapad one...that's aimed at consumers, not business folk), you may find its a better fit for the legal community. ( just started shipping 3rd week Aug 2011....

  3. RK: Actually, although the stylus for the iPad generally has a larger tip, apps such as NoteTaker HD are designed to compensate for this. It looks like your normal writing in pen.

    In any event, it will be interesting to see if the ThinkPad (or any Android tablet) can make a dent in the iPad's market.

  4. I have both Ipad 2 and Acer Iconia. I can tell from my standpoint, I have bascially stopped using the Ipad, and use my Acer tablet. it is interesting, now I don't even turn on my laptop. the Quickoffice on Android is great, as I can do my powerpoint on the pad, hook it up to a projector and here we go. additionally, the Acer has usb large and small, sd slot, HDMI out, cameras front and back, and great speaker system. the cost was 1/2 of the ipad. There are more Android apps out there than Apple. Yes, iPad has the hype, but hype will catch up to you. Hey I bought one too. anyone wants to buy an iPad 2, 64gb,3G,wifi and all accessories? Thanks


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