My most recent technology column for the ABA Journal is called simply “A Legal iPad” and, not surprisingly, talks about the potential usage of the Apple iPad by lawyers.

One of the tricky things about writing a technology column for a print publication is the lead-time necessary for articles. Longtime readers will know that my favorite definition of a blog is “an online newspaper or magazine column without the newspaper or magazine.” With a blog, you write the post, publish it and it’s instantly ready to be read and find its audience.

For my ABA column, there’s generally a two month or so lead-time. So, this column about the iPad was written back in February. As a result, I wrote it before the iPad was released and before I could have had one in my hands. That’s reflected in the article, which is not a review. Of all my columns, it’s the one that I had the most concern about becoming outdated or inaccurate before it actually came out. But, because of the way I wrote the piece, I think it turned out OK in terms of timeliness.

The column generated a lot of comments, showing the interest of lawyers in the topic.

My approach in the column was to look at whether the tablet computer form factor, iPad or otherwise, would ever replace the venerable legal pad for lawyers.

Now, I’m a longtime Tablet fan (see my 2005 article on my Tablet PC epiphanies). In fact, in the column, I refer to myself as “eternal optimist about tablet devices.”

However, I’m definitely a “wait until the second version” Apple hardware person. So, I’m actually planning my iPad purchase for late 2010. I’m definitely following the experiences of my friends and others using iPads in the meantime. As I always say (and I emphasize this point in the latest episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast), you really have to focus on what your own “use case” is when you buy new hardware.

In general, I’m bullish on the iPad and the likely uses lawyers will make of it. Take a look at the article and see how accurate my initial predictions seem to be. My concluding thought: “I don’t think we’ll see the legal pad disappear anytime soon, but it’s about to get its biggest challenge yet.”

The money quote:

Where I expect to see significant early iPad adoption is among solos and small firms (including boutique firms started by refugees from large firms) that are already using the Internet and technology in new ways.

One of my main points in the column was the importance of the iPads as an application platform. It’s the apps that matter.

I point specifically in the column to Dan Bricklin’s Note Taker app (originally for the iPhone and iPod Touch), which allows you to write with your finger on the screen and capture and work with notes. I was intrigued by its potential on the larger form factor of the iPad. Bricklin, who has the development of the original spreadsheet program, VisiCalc, on his resume, has an active web presence, so you can follow his work and thinking as he develops the app for the iPad.

That said, it’s been interesting to see both Jeff “iPhoneJD” Richardson and Josh “Tablet Legal” Barrett write positively about Note Taker recently. Maybe I was on the right track in the column.

I recommend the column to you and also suggest that you take a listen to the podcast Tom Mighell I did on the iPad called “The iPad: Gadget or Game-Changer?

I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences with the iPad.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]

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The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at Twitter: @collabtools

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