ABA Releases Results of Legal Technology Survey

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By Jason Beahm (Findlaw.com)  on October  6, 2010  5:57 AM|

A new report demonstrates that attorneys are increasingly making use of technology. According to the 2010 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report, attorneys are increasingly using Web 2.0 and other technologies in their practice. Attorney’s use of social networking and smart phones both grew by double-digit percentages.

The ABA survey is a project of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, which provides the legal community with news and information on technology and its use by attorneys. The Legal Technology Resource Center writes about technology and provides continuing legal education on practice management through the use of improved technology. The survey provides over 500 pages of detailed statistics and trend analysis on the use of technology in the practice of law. Over 5,000 ABA members were surveyed as part of the project. The Legal Technology Survey Report comes in six volumes, Technology Basics, Law Office Technology, Litigation and Courtroom Technology, Web and Communication Technology, Online Research, and Mobile Lawyers.

The report is worth taking the time to read at your leisure. In the meantime, here are a few highlights:

  • 71 percent of attorneys are using smart phones in the courtroom, up from 60 percent in the 2009 survey. 64 percent of respondents use smart phones in court to check for new e-mail, 60 percent send e-mail and 46 percent perform calendaring functions.
  • 56 percent of those surveyed maintain an online presence on a site like Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 43 percent in 2009 and 15 percent in 2008.
  • 10 percent of those surveyed have landed a client through the use of online communities or social networks.
  • 76 percent of respondents use smart phones, up from 64 percent in 2009.
  • The most popular brands of smart phones among attorneys were BlackBerry (66%), iPhone (20%) and Palm (9%).
  • 14 percent of respondents have a virtual law practice.

Xobni – An Absolute Favorite PC Application

Without a doubt, Xobni is probably one of my favorite software applications.  While incredibly simple in concept, it provides a wealth of information about e-mail communications, social networking, received documents, and other information relating to what’s happening with my e-mail accounts.

Xobni allows you to track e-mail conversations and easily gives you a timeline of how the conversations went down.  With a large database of communications in the thousands, it is very important to be able to look up old client communications.  In fact, I just recently was requested to provide some detail of communications from 2-3 years ago in my capacity as corporate counsel.  The search for the communications, relevant attachments, and shared information took all of about 30 seconds and all of the information I needed was immediately available so that I could determine the content, dates, and to/from information that I needed in order to determine what privileges applied and to be able to print the communications for the requesting party.

Among other things, as you can see from the left image, Xobni also ranks your e-mail according to volume, times of receipt, and other statistical information.  Sometimes, it is critically important to remember who was part of a conversation, the context of the conversation, and what documents were exchanged between counsel and the parties.  Or, it may be that you need to locate an old motion that you wrote and need an alternate way to find it since you know that you e-mailed it to someone in the last year.  Aside from being able to assess of of the data mentioned above, this program also provides immediate contact information, including social network contact information and up to date data on postings.  Xobni works with Hoover’s Business Info, Facebook, Skype, Huddle and LinkedIn.

The limited shortcomings are that there is not an iPad or iPhone version at this time.  Integration between Outlook, Xobni, and my smartphone (iPhone) would make this a nearly perfect program, even though I would already give it a 10 out of 10.  However, should you be so fortunate as to have a Blackberry smartphone, there is more integration.

All in all, I think that this program is a must have for any small law office.  I highly recommend that you check it out.  It is worth noting that there is a free version and you can always upgrade to the premium version, which is what my office uses.  Just excellent all the way around.