Quiz: Are you a legal pad lawyer or an iPad lawyer?

Posted: September 21, 2017

It’s been more than a century since the invention of the legal pad, a staple of this profession (and, incidentally, Seinfeld’s canvas of choice for four decades).

Are you a legal pad lawyer?

Or an iPad lawyer?

The iPad/legal pad lawyer dichotomy is my way of framing the choice we face every day: do you take on the modest “struggle” of change to reap the undeniable value of digitizing information? More often than not, change is worth the effort. It’s especially true in depositions. When we can retrieve what we need as we think of it, we can depose at the speed of thought.

So, which type of lawyer are you? Take this quiz to find out:

Q1. When an idea alights in your mind, can you make it real?

As a brilliant lawyer, you can call up in your mind a dizzying number of facts, claims, transcripts, exhibits, rulings, etc. But if it’s all in your head or buried in cases of paper, can you put your finger on the one important nugget that just seized your attention?


Q2. Can you capitalize on the moment?

You were totally prepared for the deposition and brought all the documents you needed. But a talkative defendant, trying to save his case, is suddenly opening up new, unexpected avenues for you to exploit. Can you summon the elusive knockout document before the other side can recover?


Q3. Can you “phone a friend” with a few keystrokes?
If you’re using a tablet in a deposition, you can have a paralegal, expert witness, or partner listening and watching remotely. You can chat with them in real-time and have them share ideas, facts and documents on the fly. Are you there yet?


Q4. Have you kicked your addiction to paper?
We love paper. It feels good, like a nice leather briefcase or hefty fountain pen. It’s classic, timeless, and tangible. And a legal pad doesn’t crash. But paper doesn’t help you much with detailed and voluminous information. That’s why discovery became eDiscovery, and why courts demand electronic filings, and why intuition is giving way to big data. Have you kicked the addiction to paper?


Q5. Can you see the deposition transcript come together in real time?
iPad lawyers can see the transcript filling their tablet as they ask questions, elicit answers, and hear the fleet-fingered court reporter tapping at the steno machine. These lawyers can make a point and immediately confirm that they made it. Without a real-time, electronic transcript, you just pray the record will be good when it arrives a few days later. Do you use real-time transcription?


Q6. Do you have time for family, friends and relaxation?
iPad lawyering implies youth. And no question, millennials are leading the technology adoption in law firms. But if there’s one thing about technology that captures the hearts of seasoned attorneys, it’s the chance to work from home (including the vacation home), get more done, and enjoy the elusive work/life balance. Do you have time to breathe?


The results

If you answered yes to five or six of these questions, congratulations. You’re an iPad lawyer (even if you use an Android tablet or Windows notebook). You combine your intelligence with efficiency.

If you answered no more than yes, try:

  • Dabbling: Get comfortable with technology in low-risk situations, like communicating with friends, businesses and social media platforms. Or do a demo with a vendor.
  • Inquiring: Meet with your litigation support team to see what technology they’ve been hoping you’ll adopt.
  • Learning: Find a CLE course on legal technology.

Technology has made modern life easier, from the horseless carriage to the microwave oven and now the law. Still, change can be scary, especially for legal pad lawyers. But progress has always come at the expense of making the effort.

When you’ve done that and come out the other side, change feels great. You’ll experience better outcomes, higher satisfaction, and the work/life balance you’ve been missing. Then you can come back and ace this quiz.

Terrie Campbell

As CEO, Terrie is committed to premium client care, achieving optimum effectiveness and enabling true innovation within the court reporting and deposition services industry to drive better outcomes for Esquire and its clients. She is well-versed on a variety of topics, including change management, operational process/methodology design, output management and optimization, vertical solutions, strategic design, innovation and generational workforce behaviors.