After co-presenting a cloud computing session at ABA TECHSHOW with Tom Mighell, author of iPad for Lawyers, I was finally convinced to integrate a tablet into my virtual law practice.
Most of my hardware is mobile except for a larger monitor in my home office which I hook up to my laptop when I work at night. (Dual monitors are awesome for multitasking.) I have a little 4G Verizon hotspot that I carry around to keep me online wherever I go and for backup Internet when the DSL is down.
I still type faster on a traditional, solid keyboard so I’m not at the point where I can generate a lot of written content using my iPad and the touch screen. Most of the keyboards I’ve seen that work with it are too flimsy for what I would put them through daily. So I’m using the iPad primarily for the portability and the applications.
Security on mobile devices is still a concern of mine. I’m probably more conservative in my use of the iPad than most, but then again, the majority of my communications with my clients online are handled through a system with end-to-end encryption of the data. I’m striving here to find the
responsible balance between security and cost and time savings. It’s that risk/benefit analysis that constantly changes as the technology and software evolves.
After several months of working the iPad into my daily grind, here are the apps I’m currently using:
SignMyPad Pro (by Autriv Software Development) – I was really impressed with this app. It allows me to sign any document from my iPad. For example, if someone emails me a form, I save it as a PDF and open it up in SignMyPad. I can then add text, signatures, fill in a check box, add radio buttons or add the date. The Pro version of the app tags the GPS location and date/time stamp in the metadata of the PDF when it’s saved. So if I need to collect someone’s signature, I will also have where he or she signed it and at what time and date. When you add a signature you can use either a stylus or your finger to sign in black, blue or red. The signed and locked document can then be uploaded to the virtual law office or otherwise sent where it needs to go.
QuickOffice – This has turned out to be a necessity for getting any work done with an iPad. A lot of my work involving writing so I need to be able to jot down ideas or notes and I prefer to do that in this app. Then I can email it to myself or send to DropBox (if it does not contain confidential information).
LogMeIn – I don’t use this that often but there are times when I need something from my laptop when traveling and have forgotten to upload it to my virtual law office.
DropBox – I only use this for items that do not contain confidential client information or my own personal information. For example, I’m having Kimbro Legal Services website redesigned so I have a folder of materials related to that. I don’t use it as a backup service because of the security risk. I have also installed SpiderOak to compare, but am not really sold on either one. Most of my client activity stay on the encrypted backend law office or in the client’s secure account page so there really isn’t a need to use these sharing apps as much.
Social Media – I’m using the iPad more for managing social media interactions and consuming industry news. I love Zite. It works like Pandora by customizing your likes and dislikes into an online newspaper based on your interests. It also allows you to share easily with your Twitter account. I’m not as fond of the LinkedIn and TweetDeck Apps but still have them on.
Join.me – Lets me attend desktop sharing and conferences started by others. I use Join.me on my laptop for conferences. A simple and free solution.
Skype for iPad – For basic web conferencing.
For breaks – TED, NASAViz, Nook, Infinity Blade (Just because the graphics are awesome.)
Have any other iPad app suggestions for the virtual lawyer?
Thank you for a great write up. I’m interested in the SignMyPad Pro app and will have to check it out. Potentially consider Box.net as an alternative to Dropbox. Yes, it costs money, but I’ve found it to be money well spent and the iPad application is on par with Dropbox’s (I’ve used both).
Stephanie – thanks so much for writing about SignMyPad. We really do appreciate it!
Great post Stephanie. I wrote about ipad apps for lawyers following the ABA techshow too. http://www.startingoutsolo.com/technology/going-paperless-out-of-the-office/