Every year, the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC) publishes TECHREPORT—a collection of easy-to-read breakouts of the annual ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, one of the leading surveys on how attorneys use technology. Practitioners, firms, and legal tech companies alike can use TECHREPORT to get a better grasp on legal technology trends and predictions.
Today’s excerpt is from the “Litigation and TAR” report by Stephen Embry. Click here to download the full report.
Laptop use in the courtroom experienced an increase over last year with 57% reporting using a laptop for various tasks, compared to 55% in 2016, 49% in 2015, 46% in 2014, and 48% in 2013.
Why the upswing? In previous years, smaller mobile devices like the iPad were stealing a chunk of the laptop business. Laptops continue to morph into hybrids (like the Microsoft Surface Pro or Lenovo Yoga), and the old terminology and dichotomy between the traditional laptop and tablet is becoming less and less relevant.
As predicted last year, as laptops continue to get lighter, thinner, and incorporate multi-touch screens, their use is increasing. We are seeing the benefit across the board of incorporating this tablet functionality in laptops.
This trend plus the fact that laptops are versatile, easy to use, and can perform so many other non-courtroom tasks have made them, at least for now, the choice of litigators.
The top uses for laptops in the courtroom according to the ABA 2017 Legal Technology Survey Report include:
- 34% to access email
- 33% to access key evidence and documents (28% in 2014)
- 29% to do legal research
- 27% to access court dockets and documents
- 23% to deliver presentations (a percentage that interestingly has remained fairly constant despite improvements in technology)
The gap between the percentage of large firm respondents who use laptops to deliver presentations in the courtroom (37%) and solo and small firm respondents (12-21% respectively) continues to exist. For whatever reason, there was a small decline in the use of technology to deliver courtroom presentations across the board; this may just be an anomaly, though, since the percentage has remained constant over the last several years.
Given the increased development of mobile apps, tablets, and cloud computing, however, it is no surprise to see an overall increase in accessing key evidence and documents in the courtroom. Evidence is being stored in the cloud using low budget tools like Dropbox, or higher-end e-discovery tools like Relativity (and everything in between), and then accessed from mobile devices like laptops, tablets, hybrids, and even smartphones.