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IBA: Double-digit growth for lawyers' use of Web 2.0 technologies, among ABA findings

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Lawyers’ use of smart phones and social networking technologies grew by double-digit percentages last year, indicating lawyers’ increasing “24/7” connectivity to their offices and clients, according to the recently released 2010 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report, an annual survey of technology use within the legal profession.

The most comprehensive resource of its kind, the 2010 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report provides more than 500 pages of detailed statistics and trend analysis on adoption of legal technology. From January through May, the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center surveyed nearly 5,000 ABA lawyer members in private practice on their use of technology. Topics run the gamut from technology budgets and purchasing habits to the use of smart phones in the courtroom. The findings of the survey are released serially in six volumes: Technology Basics, Law Office Technology, Litigation and Courtroom Technology, Web and Communication Technology, Online Research, and Mobile Lawyers.

The survey concentrates on issues relating to technology use, not product use. The survey reports are segmented by technology rather than firm size, and rely on the number of lawyers in a firm as an additional metric on almost all questions.

Among other results:

When asked whether they maintain a presence in an online community or social network, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, LawLink or Legal OnRamp, 56 percent of respondents answered affirmatively, compared with 43 percent in the 2009 survey and 15 percent in the 2008 survey.

Far from being a time-waster, early efforts at social networking are yielding some fruit. Ten percent of respondents report having had a client retain their legal services as a result of using online communities or social networks.

Usage of the newly released Windows 7 (9 percent) has already surpassed that of Vista (8 percent) as the second most frequently reported operating system on respondents’ primary computers. Windows XP is respondents’ top operating system.

More than three-fourths (76 percent) of respondents personally use smart phones, up from 64 percent in the 2009 survey. The brands most often cited by survey respondents were BlackBerry/RIM (66 percent), followed by the iPhone (20 percent) and Palm (9 percent).

The percentage of respondents using smart phones in the courtroom has increased in the 2010 survey to 71 percent, from 60 percent in the 2009 survey. While in the courtroom, 64 percent of respondents use their smart phones to check for new e-mail (52 percent in the 2009 survey), 60 percent send e-mail (compared with 49 percent in the 2009 survey), and 46 percent perform calendaring functions (compared with 39 percent in 2009).

While 80% of respondents conduct legal research in their personal office, more than one-third (35 percent) of respondents report regularly conducting legal research at home (compared with 24 percent in the 2008 survey), and 12 percent at a firm library (compared with 17 percent in the 2008 survey).

When asked whether they have a virtual law office/virtual law practice (do not typically meet with clients in person, but instead primarily interact with clients using Internet-based software and other electronic communications software), 14 percent of respondents responded affirmatively. Of counsel and solo respondents were most likely to report having a virtual law office/virtual law practice (27 percent and 19 percent respectively).•

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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