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Personal view: Jonathan Maas on the iPad – will it make a difference to the practice of law?

Added on the 23rd Jun 2010 at 12:00 pm
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Hello, my name is Jonathan and I am a
self-confessed iAddict.

I admit that during the Easter of 2008 I met,
and fell in love with, my brother’s iPhone.  Like star-crossed lovers we stole furtive moments together over
the long weekend, entwined in sun-dappled corners of empty rooms.  In my heart of hearts I knew the
relationship was doomed to failure because I knew I wasn’t ready to leave my
service provider.  The poignancy of
what we were doing was as painful as it was inevitable.  I can still remember, as if it were
yesterday, the snow swirling in the rural dusk of Easter Monday; the darting,
searching looks we exchanged, each glance weighted with more suppressed emotion
than a library of Barbara Cartland novels.  Thus we parted, reluctantly going our separate ways.  Sure, we met occasionally over the coming
months but it was never the same. 
What remained unsaid between us was deafening, but what was done could
not be undone.  It was one of the
most painful moments of my life.

But then, in the depths of 2009 when I thought
my iLife was not to be, I was introduced at a party to the beautiful 32Gb iPod
Touch and what was dark became light, what was miserable became jubilant (and,
best of all, I didn’t have to tell my service provider).  Of course, I soon outgrew my Touch and
was only too ready to consign it to love’s unkind dustbin when its 64Gb younger
sister came of age.  Looking back
now, I have no regrets.  The old
model is still with me, kept busy working away in my kitchen, and I still
occasionally update its apps –  it’s not like it’s all
over between us.  But the months from
the summer of 2009 to the spring of 2010 were heady indeed, full of the
laughter of two hearts beating as one. 
We faced the world and won, time and time and time again!  Nothing
could come between us.

The iPad is an insidious thing.  It has a way of demanding your time,
assuming priority over all other demands. 
Before you know it you’re shacked up together in an exclusive relationship
of its own making.  But I love it
like I have never loved anything before (thankfully, my wife doesn’t read legal
journals).

So, I am clearly an iAddict, but will any of
this change the practice of law? 
Honest answer?  I don’t
know, but I’m convinced it’s a definite maybe.  What I do think about this iTechnology, and I have thought
this since I first saw it in 2008, is that this represents the most amazing and
fundamental change to the way in which we interact with computers and the way in
which they respond to us, and that it affects everyone, not just lawyers. 
I have long thought that hardware has been the main limiting factor to
the growth of technology.  Apple
have taken us to the basement of the next level up and that I find very, very
exciting.  I expect the next few
years will bring with them some remarkable developments.

So, iPad, iPod or iPhone?  I ran out of space on my 32Gb iPod
Touch and jumped on the 64Gb version when it came out a few months after I
bought my 32Gb one.  The 64Gb is
now also full, with nearly 7000 tracks and 208 apps (all my iThings are jailbroken – not dependent on finding and loading everything through iTunes) so I can add non-Apple-approved apps and
greatly expand what my iThings look like and how they work).  It is increasingly being demoted to the
role of simple music player as I gain more experience with my iPad.  However, the jury is still most
certainly out on this as the iPod is so much easier (and less pretentious) to
whip out in public.  My iPad, by
the way, is the WiFi only, 32Gb model (I didn’t want to splurge too much on it
to start with).

I find I am using my iPad for the internet much
more than I do my laptop at home as it is much quicker to get to a browser
because it is always on.  It is
also very sexy to use, no doubt about it. 
The screen resolution is superior to that of my not-so-old Toshiba Vista
laptop, as well.  Partly because of
the quality of the screen, partly because of the innovative controls and partly
because of the quality of the games I also use it quite a lot for playing games
during my commute home.  I read
books on it on the way in as I have a few book reading apps that I am trying
out.  I see my iPad playing a huge
role in my reading habits, both with traditional books and multimedia magazines/newspapers.  Its size and shape lend it to these
functions well.

On the business front I have bought a
presentations app called Keynote, which can play PowerPoint shows (as well as
its own).  Slide transitions and
the clever use of graphics (by example) make my slides stand out.  I have on order a cable to allow me to
output to standard projectors but what is proving great is that when I am
talking to people about what I do I can show them then and there a few
illustrative slides in Keynote in an intimate presentation. I am trying out a
WP app called Pages (a sister app to Keynote) but it is early days (and I
haven’t yet invested in the iPad’s external keyboard). 

I have installed Citrix and GoToMeeting
but have not yet tried them out in earnest (but the interesting thing is that
they exist).  We don’t use a
real-time time recording system like Carpe Diem but I have bought an app called
Time Master that allows me to do that (I first got it on my iPod) and to
produce exports/reports that then have to be keyed into our system.  LinkedIn, Skype, Twitter all have apps
and I know there is at least one UK law/statute app and 7Safe, an edisclosure
and forensic IT company, have released a review app for their customers using
an iPad or iPhone.  They are, I think,
the first to do so.  Software house
CompanionLink have a free app called DejaOffice which purports to bring
together in one place the iPad’s different apps for contacts, calendar, to dos
and so on but, again, it is early days for me.  I have double-entried my work and personal diaries for so
long now I don’t think twice about it

By the way, many iPhone and iPod Touch apps
will work on the iPad but, if not upgraded, will appear iPhone/iPod size on the
iPad’s screen (although there is a zoom facility to make them appear somewhat
like native iPad apps).  There are
concerns about connectivity that are probably real in relation to unjailbroken
iPads but I have so far got around those by using email.  For instance, I get my PowerPoint slide
shows into Keynote by mailing them to my home email address and uploading when
I get home.  That will, I‘m sure,
lead to interesting discussions around client/commercial confidentiality issues
in the future.

I can certainly see me wandering around
flicking through pages of legal reference material and electronic evidence as
if on a clipboard (the iPad offers a delicious page curling – not just page
turning – effect which is soooo like the real thing and zooming in and out is
efficient).  I can certainly see me
wowing people with the sheer fun and novelty of the thing (which may make
arranging meetings easier – there is a US edisclosure company offering free
iPads to customers) and, like a snazzy car, it does attract  a crowd whenever it appears.

My conclusion?  I don’t know, but I’m convinced it’s a definite maybe!  (One thing I do know is  that I’m going to be Mr Popular when
it’s time to allocate our first project to collect data from an iPad.)  People have likened the iPad to
Marmite.  I think it’s more complex
than that: there are those who cannot see the point, there are those who
worship anything Apple, there are those who can see an immediate business use
for it and those who are prepared to take a leap of faith in case a business
use appears.  I am the latter.


One Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a well thought-out, nicely balanced, informative and amusing article, making it a refreshing change from the usual guff on this site. More of the same, please.

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