Chris Hendry, Head of Mobile for Thomson Reuters, Legal UK & Ireland, explains why you should go mobile for your legal research.
It’s rarely more than three feet away. It’s probably the first thing you look at when you wake up and the last thing you see before you go to sleep. Too far away from it and you’re at risk of developing nomophobia… It’s only seven years since the launch of the iPhone and mobile technology is now firmly ingrained in every aspect of our lives. It has transformed the way we consume content, how we communicate with each other and how we conduct transactions and business.
The opportunity for mobile to change the way we ‘lawyer’ is huge. With effective use of a smart phone or tablet, legal professionals can improve service delivery to their clients and better juggle work-life balance. They can better manage and record their time and communicate more effectively with colleagues and clients. They can keep abreast of developments in the law and in the broader news wherever they happen to be, retrieve legal information and know how, access and review documents and a host of other tasks.
Yet when it comes to embracing mobile technology, some parts of the UK legal industry have lagged behind. There are of course many valid reasons why organisations might not be investing in mobile: upfront hardware investment can be high, internal IT teams may not be equipped to support mobile devices and poor internet access may hamper the ability to use such devices.
For me, the reasons for embracing mobile are more numerous and more compelling. Here are my top 10 reasons for why you should go mobile for your legal research.
1. BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT
According to the latest Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’s annual Internet Trends report you check your phone 150 times a day. Mobile devices are becoming the predominant computing platform for accessing the internet, overtaking laptop and desktop computers.
2. GET MORE DONE
The more work you can get done on your mobile, the more work you can get done full stop. The daily commute, the long queue at the post office and down time in court can all be filled productively with a smart phone and a web connection.
3. THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
Quick searching, filtering, sorting, highlighting, note taking, downloading, emailing, folders and favourites are just a few of the many tools available on today’s mobile legal research services. What used to take us an hour can now be done in seconds. Legal research should continue to get easier and faster through the use of sophisticated new technologies and elegant design. We’ll see big improvements in natural language search, as well as the introduction of voice recognition and artificial intelligence. Legal research services will begin to get to know you. They’ll be customised to an individual’s practice, learning what you are regularly researching and what current awareness topics you like to read.
4. 4G IS HERE AND IT’S ONLY GOING TO GET FASTER
According to Wired magazine, “London’s future 4G is as stupidly fast as Korea’s”. Presently, 4G speeds in the UK peak at around 60 megabytes per second (Mbps) twice as fast as the average home internet speed. But at a recent demonstration, mobile network operator EE showcased real-world speeds almost 5 times faster at over 290Mbps. And it’s hitting London by October.
5. TAKE CONTROL OF WORK/LIFE BALANCE
Going mobile could be the only way some lawyers get any kind of work life balance or time at home. Your mobile devices mean that you can escape the office but stay connected, picking up tasks on the commute and at home.
6. COURTROOMS ARE GOING DIGITAL
We all know that wifi access in courts across the UK today is less than fantastic. But last year, plans were announced that the government would be spending £160m to fully digitise all courtrooms in England and Wales by 2016. Measures will include secure wifi in courts so lawyers and judges can access all necessary documents on a mobile device.
7. TABLETS ARE BETTER FOR PRESENTING
The iPad has been a popular addition to both client meetings as well as the court room. Many lawyers have commented that laptops create a division between themselves and either the client or the bench. Tablets such as the iPad on the other hand, are silent and almost invisible. In meetings they can be used to take notes, read documents, conduct quick research, and even to book lunch.
8. SAVE THE TREES
According to Justice Minister Damian Green; “Every year the courts and Crown Prosecution Service use roughly 160 million sheets of paper. Stacked up this would be the same as 15 Mount Snowdon’s.” When you add that to paper used to publish hard cover titles as well as paper used in offices throughout the UK during the legal research process, you get a lot of trees.
9. YOU’LL SAVE ON OFFICE SPACE
According to current rental guides, the cost of renting a square foot of office space in London is closing in on £100 per annum, meaning space saving has never been more important to the bottom line. A wafer thin tablet that sits on a desk takes up a lot less space than a legal library of hard cover books.
10. OUR NEW MOBILE WEB APP IS COMING SOON
The Westlaw UK mobile web app, has been created for quick searches and referencing across cases, legislation, journals and current awareness content, when you’re out of the office, on the move and when you haven’t the time or availability of your desktop or laptop. More details about our new mobile Web App are coming soon.