Lawyers as a group have the reputation for being slow to adopt new technology. However, when the smartphone emerged, they quickly jumped on board. And due to cloud computing, lawyers are able to work anywhere, using their smartphones and tablets. Wearable technologies like the Apple Watch, other smart watches, and Google Glass seem to be relatively popular in the legal field. So why do lawyers love wearables, how are they using them, and what does the future of wearable technology look like?
In this episode of The Legal Toolkit, Jared Correia interviews lawyer and legal technology expert Nicole Black about how and why lawyers adopt mobile and wearable technology, how they are using tablets, smartphones, and smart watches in their practice, the role of cloud computing, and what to watch for in the legal ethics of wearables. Black discusses how the spread of cloud computing has made mobile computing possible by reducing battery and storage constraints. From there, she says, smart watches are the lawyers’ solution to impolite interruptions and the inconvenience of situations in which phones are not allowed. Also, most people are comfortable wearing a watch already (we used to wear them before smartphones). Black believes smart watches will be the gateway to Google Glass, or something similar, as we all become more comfortable with the constant presence of technology. Tune in to learn about some amazing ways lawyers have already used wearable technology and some ethical factors to consider.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York-based attorney and the legal technology evangelist at MyCase, a law practice management software company. She is the author of the American Bar Association’s “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” and the co-author of the ABA’s “Social Media: The Next Frontier.” Black authors a weekly column for The Daily Record and has written numerous other articles. She is a frequent speaker at conferences on the subject of the intersection of law, mobile computing, and Internet-based technology.
Legal Toolkit: Why Do Lawyers Love Wearable Technology? – 4/18/2015
Advertiser: Welcome to the Legal Toolkit; bringing you the latest legal trends and business initiatives to help you manage your law firm. Here are your hosts – experienced lawyers, writers and entrepreneurs, Heidi Alexander and Jared Correia. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
Jared Correia: Welcome to another episode of the Legal Toolkit, on the Legal Talk Network. As the snow begins to melt and Spring comes forth, our thoughts turn to wearable technology for lawyers; because of course it does. If you’re a returning listener, welcome back. If you’re a first time listener, hopefully you’ll become a long time listener. I’m your host, Jared Correia, and in addition to casting this pod, I’m the assistant director and senior law practice advisor with the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program; LOMAP for short, because that’s easier to say. We provide free and confidential law practice management consulting services to Massachusetts attorneys. For more information on LOMAP’s offerings, visit our website at MassLOMAP.org. You can buy my book, Twitter in One Hour For Lawyers from the American Bar Association, on iTunes, or on Amazon. Next Month, Heidi Alexander will have you again, she’s my co host. Before we get started, I want to encourage you to go check out the latest special reports on Legal Talk Network. There, you’ll find 32 great interviews with leaders from the American Bar Association discussing their various divisions, committees, and programs. These interviews were recorded live at the 2015 ABA Midyear Meeting, and are loaded with useful information, so make sure you check those out. On the Legal Toolkit, we provide you, each month, with a new tool to add to your own legal toolkit so that your practices will become more and more like best practices. In this episode we’re going to be talking about wearable technology because there has to be an intermediate step before microchips are planted directly into our skulls. Just so you know, I’m not wearing a tin foil hat right now, I prefer to make mine out of saran wrap. We’ll talk about the rise of cloud computing in mobile technology, which has led us into a world in which rimless eyeglasses and watches have become supercomputers. Nikki Black is our guest today. Nikki is a Rochester, New York based attorney and the legal technology evangelist. Wait, Nikki, is that a real title?
Nicole Black: It actually is. It’s my new title and I really like it because for years that was what I called myself on Twitter and as part of my bio and I didn’t realize that was actually a job title until we did some research on it. It means I share information with lawyers about the intersection of law and tech, basically.
Jared Correia: I know I should have majored in legal technology evangelism in college. That’s my bad. So Nikki’s the legal technology evangelist at MyCase, a law practice management software company. She is the author of the American Bar Association’s “Cloud Computing for Lawyers,” which she wrote in 2012, and the co-author of the ABA’s “Social Media: The Next Frontier.” That was published in 2010; pretty impression if you ask me. Nikki also co writes Criminal Law in New York, a Thompson West treatise. She authors a weekly column for The Daily Record and has written numerous other articles. She is a frequent speaker at conferences on the subject of the intersection of law, mobile computing, and internet-based technology. So welcome to the show, Nikki, technology evangelist.
Nicole Black: Thank you so much, looking forward to it.
Jared Correia: And we were talking before we did the record, we had never done a podcast before, which is a tragedy we are remedying. Let’s start by laying some groundwork here. Nikki, before we start talking about wearables, let’s talk about attorneys and how they’re typically late adopters, especially with respect to technology. Why do you think it is that lawyers are adapting to mobile technology at such a rapid rate as opposed to their late adaption of other types of technology?
Nicole Black: Well I think mobile tech is really interesting with lawyers because when you look at the statistics, the ABA’s annual Legal Technology survey is a great way to sort of get a sense of what lawyers are doing with technology. And you see with mobile technology, there’s a really quick uptick. They start using that right away, as soon as smartphones in particular came out in 2007, but even prior to that with their blackberries – which, arguably is a smartphone but we won’t get into that. But I think the reason that lawyers like mobile tech is because they had their cell phones. Cell phones were just a quick leap from regular phones and it gave them mobility and smartphones are just another step from that. So it’s still familiar to them whereas other types of technology really are a new frontier to them and so they’re slower to adapt to them and become at ease with them and use them more quickly.
Jared Correia: Oh, sorry, I was checking my Blackberry. So the spread of cloud computing applications is really what sort of underlies this ability to practice in a mobile fashion. So can you talk a little bit about how cloud computing supports mobile technology?
Nicole Black: Absolutely, they really are intertwined. You can have the cloud without mobile, but you can’t have mobile the way that we use it today without the cloud, and that’s because mobile devices are small. You hold them in your hand and they’re constrained by their memory, they’re constrained by the processing power and they’re constrained by battery life. Their size makes it so that there are these constraints upon how the technology can be used, how big the chips can be, how big the batteries can be. So when you take these devices alone, there’s really not a lot that can be done on them because there’s really not a lot of memory available. But when you combine it with cloud computing, and just to take a real quick step back, and when you combine them with cloud computing, you can have the data processing and you can have the storage outside of the mobile devices. And just to take a quick step back for those who don’t know what cloud computing is, cloud computing is when your data is stored on servers owned and maintained by third parties. So instead of your data being stored on your phone, on your computer, on the servers located in your offices, it’s stored on servers that are owned and maintained by someone else. So when you are using all of these different apps on your phone, DropBox, Facebook, whatever the PDF annotation apps, your data’s sometimes stored on your device but more often than not, it is stored also off-site on servers owned by the company or company they contract with that owned the servers where the data’s housed. And the processing also goes on, because it’s not just storage, it’s software on those servers. The software that runs these programs and makes them accessible makes it more than just document storage. And none of that can happen on your phone because the computer on your phone simply isn’t big or powerful enough to do those things. So that’s why these two go hand in hand and that’s what makes your smartphone a computer in your hand so that you actually have access to all the world’s information as long as you have an internet or data connection.
Jared Correia: Talking about people with Blackberries, did you know I only have a flip phone?
Nicole Black: I did not know that. It changes my whole perception of you.
Jared Correia: Do you feel like I’m somehow disqualified now to host this show?
Nicole Black: No.
Jared Correia: So, let me ask you: do you listen to The Who? The rock band?
Nicole Black: I know some of their songs from when I was way back when.
Jared Correia: Some of their songs?
Nicole Black: Yeah, of course!
Jared Correia: Oh, boy. You know Going Mobile? Great song, of the greatest rock album of all time, Who’s Next. So let’s talk about going mobile for attorneys. It’s great that we have the smartphones that lawyers can use, and the Blackberry or the flip phones for those of us who are less technologically inclined, but how about lawyers using smartphones, tablets, other mobile technology in their practice? I know you talked a little bit about the penetration based on that ABA Legal Technology Resource Center survey, but what ways are lawyers specifically using mobile now in their practices?
Nicole Black: There’s really a lot of ways and it depends on the particular lawyer, but really, the sky’s the limit. Lawyers are using mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, to practice law from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection. So what that means that they can do is, using the right software and the right tools, they can access all of their firm’s data from any smartphone or tablet. That means they can access their firm’s files, their firm’s documents, their firms contents. If they have software set up that allows them to actually have messaging with their clients and discussions with their clients, they can access all of those communications. So it means that they can access their law firm’s information no matter where they are using a tablet or a smartphone. It also means that they can create and review documents. More often than not, they’re reviewing them more than creating them because it can be difficult to create complex documents to create complex documents using these tools. But you can review, annotate, add notes, add audio files, and then email them off to an associate, off to an assistant. So you can be on your commute and you can actually do work on your commute on your smartphone or your tablet. Lawyers are using them in the courtroom. They’re using them to pull up documents related to their cases, they’re using these tablets to keep track of voir dire, they’re using the apps on the tablets for trial presentation software. So there really are so many different ways to use mobile devices in conjunction with cloud computing software to practice law from just about anywhere. Practice law so you’re not tethered to your desk so that you can go anywhere and have access to all of your firm’s files.
Jared Correia: So let’s talk specifically about wearables now. Are attorneys incorporating these items into their technology platforms already, and if so, how are they going about doing that?
Nicole Black: Some lawyers are, they are most certainly in the minority. There have been some really interesting ways that lawyers are been doing that. We’re going to end up talking about watches, in particular. I think that that’s going to take off the most with lawyers, especially with the Apple watch event and there with that release which we’re going to talk about in a minute. But I think the reason – I’m going to talk quickly about watches and then we’re going to talk about that a bit more and then I want to talk about Google Glass and that type of thing. Watches I think are what is really going to catch on because it’s an extension of the smartphone. It’s unobtrusive, we all wear watches – or at least we used to – and it gives lawyers access to information that they truly need in an unobtrusive way. So whether it’s in court or in a meeting, they can filter only certain things to their watch. So instead of pulling the smartphone out, they can get a message if they’ve got a call from their secretary or someone important that they’ve allowed to get filtered through. So they can actually get that information easily in court or other types or they can dictate using the watch, but we’ll talk more about that. I do want to talk very quickly about why I think that Google Glass and the like were slow to take off, how lawyers have been using them infrequently.
Jared Correia: That’s interesting.
Nicole Black: But so with Google Glass, I actually had a pair that Tim Stanley from Justia helped me get access to a pair early on, and I tested them out and it was very interesting and it was a lot of potential. But the problem is I didn’t really feel comfortable going outside wearing them. Because people don’t understand them, people are suspicious, and I really didn’t want to get into an altercation with somebody just because I wanted to wear my Google Glass. So there’s definitely that issue.
Jared Correia: You were afraid of being assaulted on the streets of Rochester, New York. What is this world coming to?
Nicole Black: I was, I was. There are some lawyers that are actually using them and they’ve written about it. One interesting case that I saw was a law firm used on Google Glass. They didn’t use it themselves, they gave it – it was a PI firm – and they would give it to their injured clients. Like so for example, they would give it to their paraplegic client to wear throughout his entire day so that they could create a day in the life video from their client’s perspective so that the jurors – or for settlement purposes – could really see what it’s like to live like that and how it affected this person’s life. And then when it comes to how lawyers are actually using them, some of them would use them during depositions, they would use it to record what was going on. One of two have tried to use it in the courtroom but it’s definitely a very new technology and it’s hard to get into the courtroom and get permission to do it.
Jared Correia: Yeah, absolutely. That’s pretty interesting. I think the Apple watch is interesting in particular because people are thinking you’re just checking the time but then you’re doing work, it’s like the perfect lawyer device and we’re certainly going to talk about that. I’m going to make a small digression here just to get your thoughts on this. So there’s wearables and then there’s mobile technology. Where do you think mobile technology crosses into the line of something that’s wearable? Does it have to be something like a pair of glasses or a watch that you actually physically wear on your body or is there some definition out there that you subscribe to?
Nicole Black: I think wearables mean that somehow they’re attached to your body. Either it’s by a watch or glasses, those are the two predominant ways that that is occurring now. But I think that we may eventually have implants, who knows? They have contacts; I think Google may have been testing contacts, I can’t recall. So there are all sorts of really interesting concepts out there, but it is so unfamiliar to people, especially the glasses concept. It’s just more difficult of a sell and look to build upon suspicion.
Jared Correia: Until we get computer pants, I will be unsatisfied. So thanks, Nikki, this has been great so far. Unfortunately I’m worn out – see what I did there? So we need to take a break. When we come back we’re going to talk some more about wearable technology with Nikki Black at MyCase.
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Jared Correia: Welcome back, we’re joined today by Nikki Black of MyCase and we’re talking about the coming dominance of wearable technology. Welcome back, Nikki.
Nicole Black: Thanks!
Jared Correia: Okay, we’ve alluded to this previously but now we’re going to talk more about the Apple watch. The Apple watch is actually trending on Twitter today, the very day we’re recording this show. So what effect is the Apple watch going to have on wearable technology? I mean, Christy Turlington uses one, right? So it’s all good.
Nicole Black: You would think, I’d suppose so; that was the message they were trying to send, I think.
Jared Correia: And for those who didn’t watch the Apple promotional piece on the Apple watch, I think they had Christy Turlington come up and talk about how she used it to organize a marathon in Africa for charity, just stuff that normal people do.
Nicole Black: Right, exactly. Well the thing about the Apple watch – and I’ve been waiting for it for a long time – is Apple tends to be the one to release the technology that is the tipping point for the particular type of text. So even though Android watches have been out and I’ve actually interviewed a couple of lawyers. Jeff Taylor of the Droid Lawyer and Rick Georges; I have an Above the Law column where I write about ways different lawyers are using a certain type of tech in their practices, and they are two lawyers that come to mind that actually use Android devices. And Rick Georges had talked to me about how he uses his Droid device in his practice and how he finds it to be – he writes the blog Future Lawyer – really useful. And Mitch Jackson – his name was escaping me earlier – he used Google Glass often. But even though some lawyers have been using watches, it’s the Apple watch that I think is going to be the tipping point because it’s going to be the consumer watch that everybody starts buying. And you’re going to see more lawyers using it because more lawyers use iPhones than Androids at this point, although Android’s quickly picking up the market share in the legal market.
Jared Correia: So Apple watch is the tipping point. So here is the $20,000 Legal Toolkit question, and I really need to update that figure for inflation. But we talked a little bit about this but let’s talk about the Apple watch specifically. What ways do you think lawyers are going to be able to use Apple watches in their law firms that are going to make them more efficient, that our attorneys, whatever kind of advantages they can gain from that, what do you think?
Nicole Black: Well, when it comes to the smartwatch market, I do think – and i don’t often say this – but that the genders are going to use it differently and I think that it’s going to be more in the regular consumer market well received by women. And in the legal market, I do think it’s going to be a little more equal.
Jared Correia: That’s addressing. Why do you think that?
Nicole Black: Because I often see people that don’t seem very inamorate with the watch when they write about it, they’re men; they’re like, I can just take it out of my back pocket. But our experiences as women are different, we carry them in our purses. And once you’re out somewhere where it’s noisy, whether it’s a restaurant or a bar or just out in public, as soon as your phone rings or dings, you can’t hear it. And because it’s hidden in your purse, you don’t feel that vibration. The men oftentimes have it in their back pocket or in an inside pocket of their coat or of their jacket.
Jared Correia: Oh, I see.
Nicole Black: So for them, they can say let me just pull my smartphone out of my pocket, what do I care. It’s not that big of a difference. But they’re already getting all those notifications because it’s closer to their bodies whereas women, it’s in their purses, and so those notifications are going to matter a lot more because it gives you quick access to this phone that’s tucked away in your purse. And then you can get those whether you’re a lawyer or a mother who’s a stay at home mom or is some other line of work. You get these notifications more quickly about whether it’s from your secretary or whether it’s from your babysitter or the daycare, what’s going on with your kid, you can have those filtered through. And for both men and women in court, or in meetings with clients, it’s a much more unobtrusive way to get those really important notifications that you may be expecting a call but you don’t want to have your phone laying right out there with the phone up because it makes it look like you’re not present, it makes it look like you’re not paying attention. But I think that lawyers of both genders are going to find that it’s going to give them this ability to both access important information quickly and be notified about it, but also the dictation really comes in. It makes it easier, a lot of people have said – I haven’t tried it myself – but to dictate on the go, to talk to the watch rather than – although you like silly talking to any electronic device, but.
Jared Correia: I think that’s fascinating about the gender differences, I hadn’t thought of that at all. It’s interesting that you bring up that point. Yeah, we’re all going to be walking around like Maxwell Smart, if anybody remembers who that is anymore. So it sounds to me like you think the chief advantage of this wearable technology is that it’s part of our costume, essentially, that we wear as business people anyway. And the trick is that it’s going to look like we’re not doing stuff that we’re actually doing. It’s going to be unobtrusive to clients, potential clients, potential referral sources. Is that about the size of it as far as a main advantage?
Nicole Black: Well that’s what it is right now. The thing that’s really interesting about these types of technologies, whether it’s the iPhone or the Tablet or the watch is that you find that the users really decide what it is that they need it to do. And then the developers start creating apps for those things. So when the iPhone first came out, it really didn’t do much. There weren’t apps, then when those third party developers, when the API was opened up and they had access to it and could create apps, now the app store is a multi billion dollar business that didn’t exist before 2008. So it’ll be really interesting to see what comes of it, that just what it seems like we could do with it. But it’ll be really interesting to see what happens,
Jared Correia: So that’s a good segway into our next question. So yeah, obviously the apps are going to dictate a lot of what people are going to use as far as wearable technologies are concerned. So beyond the Apple watch and beyond Google Glass, what’s next for lawyers and wearable technology?
Nicole Black: I do think that the Apple watch is sort of the gateway drug into wearables for lawyers and consumers in general. Just like I feel like Dropbox is the gateway drug to the cloud, especially for lawyers. So what will happen is once people start getting used to wearable technology and it becomes more prevalent through watches, then I think that the concept of Google Glass and that type of wearable tech, then you’re going to be able to make that leap a little more easily. And there are all sorts of useful ways the Google Glass can be used that you can’t use your smartphone, that you can’t use your smart watch. And one of the ways that I found that is not at all related to practicing law but could possible have applications was I enjoy cooking. And people used to try and encourage me to do cooking videos because of the photos I would post of the food I would cook. And I would try to do them on the camera on my phone or with the camera on my computer and it just didn’t work. Although with Google Glass, I could actually do a tutorial of sorts, a cooking tutorial, because it was from my perspective and they could see what I was cooking. So it was a really interesting way to have this camera right there. And that’s sort of what that law firm was doing with allowing their client to wear to show that from the client’s perspective. So I do think once you get into the wearables that are glasses and people start using that more, I honestly don’t have an answer as to what’s next from there, maybe the contacts. Because once you get used to that screen projected out in front of your face, which is a really cool experience, once you get used to that, you don’t want the glasses. Why wouldn’t you have it on your contacts so you have that there? But then that really does seem to become incredibly invasive and pretty far off, but we’re moving so fast, who knows?
Jared Correia: Yes, I mean there’s a thin line between cool and terrifying, right? I guess it frees up your hands, too, which is another thing we haven’t talked about, but having your hands free to do other things while you’re working on these devices is interesting.
Nicole Black: That’s a good point.
Jared Correia: So I can see the advertising campaign now. Apple watch, the marijuana of wearable technology.
Nicole Black: It started here first.
Jared Correia: It’s kind of interesting as well that you think that the Apple watch is going to start to normalize the Google Glass, even though Google Glass came out first. I think that’s an interesting take.
Nicole Black: Yeah that is too, yeah.
Jared Correia: See, you’re brilliant! So let’s finish up with this. So attorneys have to watch out for professional ethics in relation to any technology they use in the practice. So what do attorneys have to look out for when it comes to legal ethics and wearable technology in your opinion?
Nicole Black: Wearable tech is just an extension of mobile tech which is just an extension of tech. And when it comes to technology, lawyers have a duty to exercise due diligence when choosing a technology provider and one securing their technology. So they have to understand or hire somebody who does. The different forms of technology, but they really do need to stay abreast of change in technologies and they need to take reasonable steps to ensure that their confidential client data is maintained in a secure fashion so it stays confidential. So at the end of the day, it’s no different than third party storage of physical documents. You need to do the same thing with that if they’re confidential docs. You need to do the same thing with confidential digital client data. You have to exercise the same standards, you have to stay abreast of change in tech, and that’s important because the ABA model rules, the comment to – I think it was rule 1.1, might be 1.2 – was recently revised to indicate that lawyers need to stay abreast of change in tech and a bunch of other different jurisdictions are now adopting that requirement. So you need to stay abreast of in change of technology and at least understand it even if you don’t use it and if you do use it, you need to really thoroughly set the providers and understand the tech that you’re using and take reasonable steps to ensure that your confidential client data remains confidential.
Jared Correia: That’s not so bad.
Nicole Black: Not really.
Jared Correia: Well, Nikki, I just checked my Apple watch and it’s time to wrap this up, unfortunately. Or was I checking my email? We’ll never know. Thank you for this instructive conversation, though. We’ve reached the end of this episode of the Legal Toolkit. You can check out all of our shows any time you want at LegalTalkNetwork.com. So thanks again, Nikki Black, for taking the time to come by the virtual studio today to talk about wearable technology for lawyers. Alright, Nikki, how can our listeners learn more about you and MyCase?
Nicole Black: Thanks so much for having me, I really had a great time. It was a really interesting conversation and in terms of learning more about MyCase, which is a web-based software that allows you to manage your practice from anywhere using any internet-enabled device, including your laptop. MyCase.com, and you can sign up for a free 30 day trial, no credit card required and give it a test drive. And to learn more about me, you can go to NicoleBlackESQ.com and that website just tells a litlte bit about me, past speaking engagements, articles I’ve written, that type of thing. And there you have it.
Jared Correia: Thanks again, and definitely don’t be wary of either Nikki or MyCase, they’ve both been around and they both know what they’re doing. So thanks again Nikki, and thanks to all of those out there who are listening.
Nicole Black: Thanks so much.
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