Lawyers are often on the go, and need to know the best ways to make use of technology when they are not in the office, and how best to travel with technology. Learn more about law firms' approach to using mobile devices as a replacement for laptops, and best practices for traveling with technology.
Replacing Laptops with Mobile Devices
Q: Dear IT Guy, I am a Network Consultant for a small single office firm that has decided to test pilot the new BlackBerry handhelds. The initial idea is to use the BlackBerry devices as a replacement for the lawyer's personal laptops and slowly migrate users over to a desktop PC. A pool of laptops would then be available for any travel needs. Have you heard of any other firms pursuing this idea and if so do you know if they have an established Return On Investment (ROI)?
A: I have heard of only one other mid-sized firm that is attempting to phase out their more expensive laptop purchases in lieu of a BlackBerry solution. Their move forward made a large gain when the new model of BlackBerry, which allows for attachment viewing, was released in June. Not being able to view Word or Excel attachments was a major hindrance with the previous devices, and now makes the device a more adequate laptop replacement. The enclosed phone works well, too.
The basic, reported ROI is that the firm can supply a new desktop PC and a Blackberry for less than the cost of a new laptop, and the older laptops have done well for the "checkout pool" purpose to which they were designated.
Traveling With Technology
Q: During the past six months I have had a much more exhaustive travel schedule for depositions and discovery that has taken me to many third world countries. Do you have any travel tips that might protect the laptop that I frequently take along?
A: Having done some adventuresome travel myself a few years ago, I did develop a few practices that might help you out, IT Guy reader. First, get rid of the black Targus carrying case -- this is like a flashing billboard for thieves announcing you have a laptop in carriage. I have packed my laptop in a padded sleeve (Fellowes makes a stretched Bodyglove sleeve) and placed this in an old, faded (less-conspicuous) backpack. The old axiom of not being able to judge a (note)book by its cover has proved true.
Another trick I have used is to hide the laptop in an inconspicuous place when left in my room while I am out. On several occasions, a used pizza box cover has provided an additional level of disguise, to protect against any possible thieves looking for a quick grab.
Tips courtesy of Chuck Linebaugh of O'Hagan, Smith & Amundsen.