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BlackBerry use among US attorneys has dropped from nearly 50 per cent to 31 per cent, with almost all smartphone users switching to the iPhone, according to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2012 Technology Survey.
The report, which was conducted from January through to May by ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Centre, surveyed attorneys from various sized firms in order to determine how technology is used in the legal profession.
Volume six of the report, Mobile Lawyer, received 752 completed responses. It found that the majority of respondents – 89 per cent - use a smartphone such as a BlackBerry, iPhone or Android for law-related tasks while away from their primary workplace. Although this figure is only 1 percentage point up on last year’s ABA Technology Survey, the proportion of attorneys using a tablet device such as an iPad or Galaxy Tablet for work outside of the office has more than doubled - from 15 per cent to 33 per cent, with 91 per cent of that figure using Apple’s iPad.
Another popular Apple product, the iPhone, has gained users among US attorneys at the expense of its rivals. Last year, 46 per cent of respondents who said that they use a smartphone for work had a BlackBerry, with 35 per cent using Apple’s iPhone. In this year’s study, the number of attorneys using the latter jumped to 49 per cent, with just 31 per cent using a BlackBerry.
This figure reverses when responses are broken down by firm size, with the study finding that nearly 60 per cent of lawyers at outfits with 500 or more attorneys continue to opt for the BlackBerry, and just 39 per cent of attorneys at these firms using an iPhone. In comparison, around half of US attorneys working for themselves or at firms with 499 lawyers or less opt for the iPhone.
Jeff Richardson, a lawyer in the New Orleans office of US firm Adams & Reese, said in a blog post: “[The ABA survey numbers] do match what I have been seeing anecdotally; lots of attorneys giving up the BlackBerry to switch to an iPhone, and a surge in iPad users. I suspect that one of the biggest changes between the numbers in the 2012 report and next year’s 2013 report is that we’ll see even more attorneys using iPads next year.”
The study also looks into how lawyers use their smartphones. Thirty per cent of respondents reported that they have downloaded a legal-specific app for their smartphone (compared with 27 per cent in 2011), with the most-often mentioned names for legal specific smartphone apps being Fastcase (24 per cent), WestlawNext (16 per cent), LexisNexis (13 per cent), and ABA/ABA Journal (9 per cent).