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SmallLaw: Why the iPad 2 Is a Game Changer for Lawyers

By Mazyar Hedayat | Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Originally published on June 21, 2011 in our free SmallLaw newsletter. Instead of reading SmallLaw here after the fact, sign up now to receive future issues in realtime.

Another day, another article about lawyers using the iPad, right? Wrong! And yes, I'm back baby! I'm the founding columnist of SmallLaw (originally called Crazy Mazy). My "reunion" column is not so much about how lawyers use or should use the iPad, as it is about my experience using it as a suburban middle-aged founding partner of a small law firm. Something tells me most SmallLaw subscribers fit this same profile.

First, by way of full disclosure I own more than one iPad, Mac, and iPhone. Don't let that fool you though. Read my previous SmallLaw columns and you'll find that I'm no technology pushover. I'm not some Apple fanboy with a photo of Steve Jobs over my fireplace and a collection of black mock turtleneck shirts. I'm a managing partner just like you — a ping away from the disaster du jour at my law firm. I'm not looking for another way to surf the Web, exchange messages, connect with clients, or watch videos.

Did I need to buy an iPad 2? Should you consider buying one? As it happens, my answer to both questions is yes because this device is a game changer. It's to this decade what WordPerfect was to the 1980s when many of you started law practice (or started thinking about becoming a lawyer).

The New Normal

Let's begin with the obvious — the iPad2 is the bomb when it comes to content. Text, audio, video, whatever — it all looks better on the iPad 2. And thanks to its incredibly slim, light form factor I can experience my favorites in ways I previously couldn't.

Once I got used to the way in which the iPad 2 connected my content, I started to expect the same fluidity from all my information sources. But nothing came close to the effortless way in which I could find all three media — audio, text, and video — in one place on my iPad. In short, I felt entitled to a better information experience across the board.

But something was still missing. Don't get me wrong. The Safari Web browser is impressive. Clio's optimized Web site looks gorgeous for example. But as good as Safari is, dedicated native apps are even better.

Just then, as if on cue, one publication after another started to retrofit or radically alter its format for the iPad 2 in the form of native apps (though I'm still waiting on TechnoLawyer — ahem). At first it was form over substance, but soon the publications learned to make the most of the iPad format. The iPad 2 literally created the new normal, which I prefer to the old normal.

Apps such as The Daily, FlipBoard, Newsy, Qwiki, The Economist, and TrialPad take full advantage of the iPad 2. By serving up content in native apps, they kick the iPad 2 into overdrive.

So how does the iPad 2 compare to print, eReaders, TV, the iPhone, or my iMac? Let's just say that none compare. I refuse to read books and magazines in print. No more squinting my way through a post on my iPhone or hunching in front of my iMac to browse the Web. Sure, an eReader like the Kindle or Nook is great for books. But that's like filling up on breadsticks before going out for dinner. The iPad 2 simply has so much more to offer that mere eReaders simply don't rate.

The Hardware Is Slick, but the Software Is Genius

Granted, the content-management and display superiority of the iPad 2 has caused a seismic shift in the way I consume information. But has the iPad 2 "changed everything" as Steve Jobs likes to say? Has it made a difference in how I deal with information? Or is it just an overgrown iPhone?

After all, the just-released Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a crisper displays and smaller dimensions than the iPad 2, while the Kindle and Nook are even smaller and lighter. In fact on nearly all counts you'll find tablets that are competitive with Apple's — hardware-wise.

So what makes the iPad 2 a big deal? In a word: Apple's iOS. Of course it's hard to give credit to an operating system when the hardware on which it resides is so damned cool, but iOS is what makes all the difference when it comes to what you can do with your iPad 2. It makes the hardware melt away much like you don't notice the piece of paper you're reading, just the printed words on it. The only difference is that with a few simple gestures I can annotate, highlight, save, share, or jump between sources without leaving the page (or the couch).

What About Law Practice?

The iPad 2 is not yet ubiquitous. But with more than 25 million units sold already, it's off to a much faster start than the PC. Judging by the number of apps that transform our iPads into trial assistants, telephones, secure workspaces, deposition readers, eDiscovery tools and more, law practice has already changed. Thanks to the plethora of remote control apps such as iTeleport, you can even control your PC from your iPad if a substitute app doesn't yet exist.

Expect this trend to intensify. Thus, my advice is to get your hands on an iPad 2 to see if it doesn't enhance your own reading, browsing, surfing, viewing, and listening experience. You may want to pick up Tom Mighell's new ABA book as well, iPad in One Hour for Lawyers. As I said at the outset of this SmallLaw column, my bet is that you will find the iPad 2 transformative. If I'm wrong, feel free to complain to this fine publication.

Written by Will County bankruptcy lawyer Mazyar M. Hedayat of M. Hedayat & Associates, P.C.

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Topics: Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets | SmallLaw
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