Ask a CIO or IT director from any industry what their fellow executives are pestering them about, and right now the answer will almost certainly be the iPad. The legal sector is no exception; indeed, some law firms are even investigating the viability of issuing iPads to their employees themselves.
"We’ve got a pilot going on with iPads at the moment,” explains Phillip Whitehead, IT director at DWF. “The pilot seems to have been a success – we are giving people iPads for a week and then getting their views on them, but those people seem to be disappearing [with them].”
For law firms, the matter of supporting iPads is especially tricky given their particularly stringent security requirements. “If data breaches happened, we’d completely lose credibility with our clients,” says Terry Lawley, business innovation team manager at SJ Berwin. He considers the iPad an “insecure device” – although the firm is investigating ways to remedy this – and the answer to hopeful senior partners has so far been no.
Lawley adds that he is “looking forward” to the release of Research In Motion’s forthcoming PlayBook tablet, as RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server is a trusted device management system.
That sentiment is echoed by Derek Brookes, IT director at Manches. “RIM has got such a good control and security engine that were we’re holding back”, at least to see whether the functionality is up to scratch.
DWF’s Whitehead has the same policy. “We’re looking at the RIM tablet as well. We’re not going to make a decision on tablet computers until next year.”
Either way, Brookes believes that the adoption of tablets is almost inevitable. “When I first suggested that we should get some BlackBerrys, I was asked ‘What’s the point?’” he recalls. “I said let’s just try half a dozen, and within two weeks we’d given one to every partner.”
“In the past two or three years, every lawyer has been given some kind of device from which they can send and receive emails. I think we’ll see that happen with tablets but in an even shorter time frame.”