The iPad Cannot Replace the Company Laptop #ILTA12

4 minute read
Marisa Peacock avatar

Could the iPad Replace the Company Laptop? #ILTA12
Is the iPad becoming a laptop replacement? That’s the question three panelists at ILTA sought to answer on the first day of sessions. As iPads become more popular and used within the workplace, it’s not uncommon for lawyers and other professionals to use their iPad to complete work-related tasks. While everyone loves the flexibility that the tablet device provides, not everyone agrees that it’s the right tool for every job.

The Right Tool for the Right Job?

The panelists included David Neesen of Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger, LLP; Robert Blacksberg of Blacksberg Associates, LLC and Toby Adamson of Microsystems and they each described not only the benefits for having an iPad but the challenges they pose as well.

While an iPad may present itself as a lightweight, simple, portable alternative to a laptop, it’s important to remember that it was never intended to anything more than a note pad. While other tablets may boast more computer functionality, the iPad is supposed to do more than your smartphone, but have less functionality than your laptop or desktop computer.

Of all things you use an iPad for, including but not limited to email, video chatting, reading, playing games, how many of them are actually sanctioned by your firm? And for how many, does your company provide an accurate level of security? The first step for incorporating or encouraging iPad use at work is to define what’s it right for.

However, even once its purpose is properly defined what happens when it’s used for the wrong thing? Toby Adamson outlined three common challenges associated with using the iPad for work.


Referred to as the Dropbox Problem, Adamson says that many file sharing apps are not designed to secure documents. After all, Google's privacy policy doesn’t exactly sound like something your General Counsel would approve. But unlike on laptops, there isn’t exactly a “My Documents” folder in which to save and access documents on an iPad making it necessary to use some sort of file sharing app, which if not sanctioned by the company, could put sensitive information at risk.

The Risk of Mobile Email

Send a work-related email from your iPad recently? Chances are you didn’t clear the metadata from it before sending it. Yet, companies seem to have accepted that it happens. Adamson cited a recent study that indicated most firms are aware of the actions attorneys take when using their mobile devices and yet, don’t necessarily do anything about it.

Document Damage

Perhaps Adamson’s most convincing argument centered around editing documents from an iPad. Of all the apps available that give the users the ability to create and edit word documents, none of them were really designed for advanced editing, or the complex formatting needed for legal documents.

Learning Opportunities

Adamson and team reviewed several popular document apps and found that Document To Go Premium and Office 2 HD offered the most advanced functionality. Documents To Go doesn’t convert the document before opening, which helps to preserve some (but not all) of a document’s original formatting. Office 2 HD received a update which allows it to track changes while editing, something none of the other apps offered.

Despite these apps functionality, they still don’t let users adequately edit documents the way a laptop does. The convenience of being able to edit from an iPad is quickly outweighed by the loss of alignment, numbering, styling and footers that can result.

Don't Let Technology Make it More Complicated

Overall, iPads are handy, but not always the best tool for handling complex tasks. Firms should not be persuaded by its portability or flexibility without first examining the risks and defining policies that outline how mobile devices of any kind can be used.

However, mobile technology is always changing, so it could be that newer, better and more secure apps are available. Yet, it’s important to remember that an iPad was designed to simplify, not complicated common tasks. If the way you’re using an iPad is making life difficult for you after the fact, perhaps it’s not yet the right tool for your firm.


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