Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

How Mobile Phones Have Changed the Legal Profession

You wake up and check your phone. Before you go to bed, you send a last-minute email from under the covers. Twenty years ago, doing so much work in your pajamas would have been unthinkable. Now, it's the norm.

And you've got your smartphone to blame. Mobile phones have changed how the law is practiced by your average lawyer perhaps more than any technology since the desktop computer.

From a 10 Hour Workday to a 24 Hour One

Few lawyers clock a typical nine to five day, and that's been the case for decades. But mobile devices have extended the workday even longer, while freeing it from the confines of the office. In a recent article for Thomson Reuters Elite's "Exchange Magazine," Bob Schukai, Head of Advanced Product Innovation at Thomson Reuters, looks at how the legal workflow has transformed into a "day flow." (Disclosure: Thomson Reuters is FindLaw's parent company.) The day flow, Schukai writes, encompasses "using any screen that conveys information -- phone, tablet, watch, computer, or car -- to guide the user in every aspect of a day, from waking to sleeping."

That extended, mobile-enhanced day is incredibly common in the legal professions. More than 90 percent of lawyers use mobile devices to do legal work at home, according to the ABA's legal technology survey. About 10 percent of attorneys check their phones immediately before going to sleep and immediately after waking up, a survey from Deloitte shows, while 55 percent reach for their phone within 15 minutes of waking up.

Don't Fight It

The expanding workday might mean you're on call all day long, but it also allows lawyers greater freedom. Work can be done between family time, while traveling, or between hitting the snooze button a few times -- which is better than being chained to your desk for a twelve-hour day.

Attorneys should accept this new reality and start pursuing mobile-friendly legal products that work with the way lawyers work today. Schukai gives two suggestions:

  • "Choose software products that work with existing systems. Nothing is more frustrating than having a mobile contact management product that is a 'standalone' and unconnected to, for instance, the existing customer relationship management software.
  • "Even better-choose products that reduce the number of mobile applications the user must access to get the job done. Providing everything a lawyer needs in a single, integrated user experience will encourage adoption and boost personal productivity."

After all, you're going to be working from your phone, so look for products that will help you do that most efficiently.

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