The Blackberry v. Apple tipping point for lawyers

There has been a lot written about whether lawyers will ever give up on their Blackberrys in favour of Apple (or Android) products.

This discussion is playing out in many industries, where the trend that technological innovation starts out at large organizations and trickles down to consumers has been reversed, and the consumer market has become a hotbed of innovation in its own right. In other words, individual lawyers are the consumers that are forcing their firms, the organizations, to innovate by adopting new technologies.

Blackberry’s loss, the story goes, is often Apple’s gain, since the appeal of a Blackberry is much less for Bay Street lawyers once they start playing with their kids’ or spouses’ IPhones or IPads.

But the appeal of Apple goes beyond the fact that you can play games and watch YouTube more easily than on a Blackberry. Apple’s recent foray into cloud computing with IOS 5, its newest operating system for IPhones and IPads, has some serious draws for lawyers on the go working on documents on multiple devices. The American Lawyer concluded that many of iOS 5’s enhancements are, indeed, useful and welcome (article behind a paywall) although there is still a long way to go. And being completely paperless is a much more realistic goal when you your computer is so portable and tactile like an IPad.

Could the widespread adoption of IPads (and not just IPhones) force other legal organizations to finally adopt newer, and more paperless practices? When most lawyers are carrying around tablets (which will no doubt be a reality soon), will courts, tribunals and other regulatory bodies really need to print multiple copies of documents? Many have recognized the benefits of going paperless in the medical profession – and there are countless reasons it would be good for our justice system as well.

Change in communication technology have always had a major impact on the justice system. It just seems to me that we may have finally reached a point where the legal profession may realistically be shedding its paper, along with its Blackberrys.

Tim Wilbur

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