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Mobile Device Management: Law Firms Lag Behind in Efficient Use of Mobile Devices


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December 05, 2011

Mobile Device Management: Law Firms Lag Behind in Efficient Use of Mobile Devices

By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributor

With more personal mobile devices are being used in the corporate environment as a result of the “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)”strategy adopted by several organizations, mobile device management has become a challenge. This is true in all types of organizations including law firms.

According to ALM Legal Intelligence Mobile Technology Survey, nearly nine in ten U.S. lawyers use smartphones for work related tasks. However, many law firms and corporate law departments still don't provide official support for use of smartphones and tablets.

U.S. lawyers have eagerly embraced mobile devices to help them perform work-related tasks while on the move; however, they have not implemented the necessary mobile device management strategies to help them use these technologies to their full potential, ALM Legal Intelligence said.

The recent survey was comprised of 266 lawyers in both private law firms and in-house legal departments and found that nearly 9 in 10 respondents use a smartphone for work purposes while 40 percent use tablets. However, only 13 percent of respondents use these devices in lieu of their PCs. In addition, more than 90 percent of respondents reported they are using mobile devices primarily to simply keep tabs on their e-mail.

A major factor that may be hindering the more sophisticated use of mobile devices is the lack of support from these specific law firms or in-house law departments, according to the survey. Nearly the 40 percent of respondents who use a smartphone and 54 percent of those who use a tablet do so without any official assistance from their law firm or department management.

"As a group, lawyers have not won fame as evangelists of technology," said Nigel Holloway, vice president of research at ALM Legal Intelligence, in a statement. "But they have been using mobile tools long enough to know two things: don't expect miracles and any feature that can spur productivity should be leveraged for all its worth."

Furthermore, smartphones and tablets are also used in business development. Nearly 18 percent of the lawyers participated in the survey listed business development as one of the three functions for which they use their mobile device most. Social networking sites, in particular, are being leveraged with the use of mobile apps for services such as LinkedIn (News - Alert) and Twitter to connect clients with colleagues quickly.

Another significant trend discovered through this research shows mobile device management tools give employers greater control over how the devices are used, such as restricting certain apps, but 53 percent of users on these platforms say mobile device management has limited the usefulness of their smartphone or tablet.

Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

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