ABA releases 2011 survey on use of legal technology

By Correy Stephenson

The Daily Record Newswire

The American Bar Association recently released the results of its 2011 legal technology survey, which evaluated lawyers' use of smartphones, tablets and software as a service, among other things.

Conducted by the Legal Technology Resource Center, the annual Legal Technology Survey Report questioned ABA members in private practice during the first six months of the year about topics such as mobile lawyers, law office technology and litigation and courtroom technology.

Some of the findings include:

Smartphones.

Lawyers' use of smartphones for law-related tasks away from their primary workplace continued to increase from 79 percent in 2010 to 88 percent in 2011 (firms with more than 100 lawyers reached 98 percent).

The survey found that solos were the least likely to use a smartphone, with just 78 percent (up from 65 percent in 2010). Of the lawyers who do use a smartphone, 46 percent use a BlackBerry, 35 percent use an iPhone and 17 percent use an Android.

Tablets.

Lawyers are also increasingly using tablet devices to perform work-related tasks away from the office, the survey found. Fifteen percent of all those surveyed use a tablet device (again, larger firms have an even greater percentage -- 26 percent in firms with more than 500 lawyers).

Of those using a tablet, 89 percent use an iPad. Tablet users reported that they used their devices for Internet access, e-mail, calendars, contacts, GPS/maps and mobile-specific research apps.

SaaS.

Survey respondents who use software as a service said the most important benefit is browser access from anywhere, followed by availability at any time, day or night, the low cost and predictable monthly expense and the elimination of IT requirements.

Lawyers who have not used SaaS said they were most concerned about being unfamiliar with the technology, issues of security and confidentiality and third-party hosting concerns.

Blogs and social media.

The survey also asked lawyers how much time they spend on social media sites like Twitter or blogs.

Forty-two percent of respondents with blogs said they spent less than one hour per week blogging; 50 percent said they spent between one and five hours, 6 percent blogged six to 10 hours and just 3 percent spent more than 11 hours per week on their blog.

The survey found similar results with time spent on Twitter and social networks, with the majority (74 and 75 percent, respectively) spending less than one hour per week.

Published: Fri, Aug 5, 2011