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Legal Firm’s CIO Makes His 2016 Business Mobility Predictions

Dowling Aaron CIO Darin Adcock shares adoption trends and technology insights from his firm’s business mobility ecosystem.

Darin Adcock

by Darin Adcock, Dowling Aaron CIO

2015 was another year of growth in mobility at Dowling Aaron, as we not only reached new mobile users but current users extended their mobility profile. Each year, we add more and more mobile users as they see their peers reach new heights of productivity and collaboration. In the legal industry, productivity and gadgets are much like the neighbor who has awesome Christmas lights; they want to “one up” them to be more productive and “cooler.”

In 2015, our mobile users seemed to fill any of these gaps they had in their mobility profile. Within our business, there are three different trends for a user’s mobility profile. If they’re on the go, they use the smartphone. If they are on vacation and just want something they can sneak in 10-20 minutes without the family noticing, they’ll use a smaller tablet like the iPad Mini. If they know they’re going to need more than 20 minutes to do in-depth work, they use a Surface Pro or iPad with Bluetooth keyboard. The iPad Mini made a splash this year, as it seems to be a good size/productivity balance. Users seemed to enjoy reading and replying to emails on a screen larger than their iPhones but smaller than an iPad. 2016 will be another year of growth as users extend their mobility profiles even further.

[Related: Dowling Aaron Deploys BYOD & Stays Secure with AirWatch]

New Devices & Apps Bring Innovation to the Courtroom

The Surface Pro is making a splash, so I’m interested to see how many show up after the holidays. I am currently awaiting the Surface Pro 4 that we will use in conference rooms to wirelessly display client presentations on the LCD TV screens mounted on the wall. Our firm is also branching out and opening an office in the middle of a technology center. We’ll be the only law firm in the building, surrounded by dowling aaron ipad in the courtroomcomputer programmers and enthusiasts creating new ideas in technology. This will be a fantastic spot for our IP and Trademark attorneys and a great place to utilize and show off the Surface Pro 4.

I certainly see products like the Surface Pro 4 working their way into the courtroom in 2016, as well. Many courtrooms across the country have updated to accommodate newer technologies and connectivity from mobile devices. Devices that can run multiple litigation and presentation software suites will be valuable, while remaining thin and light. For example, you could have someone giving testimony circle items with the stylus and have it appear instantly on the courtroom screen. Visuals are a vital piece during trial and in the courtroom, so thin and light tablets should make a splash soon.

[Related: 2015 State of Business Mobility Report]

Top Mobile Priorities in 2016

My top mobile priorities will coincide with the point above and how I see mobile impacting the legal industry in 2016. We will be focusing on new ways to utilize mobile devices in the courtroom to enhance trial presentation, take depositions and video conferencing with co-counsel and opposing counsel. As always, training will be vital so users feel comfortable using the new technology. If users have fears, which are usually caused by not practicing, they won’t use the technology since they don’t want to risk looking incompetent. New technologies plus a new operation system will certainly require extra training.

Tips & Best Practices for Legal Organizations Implementing Mobility

There are several key components to implementing a successful mobility program. First and most important question to address is skd258555sdchow are you going to manage all the mobile devices?  Without a great enterprise mobile management (EMM) solution, it is impossible to support and control all the mobile devices brought into the environment. We use AirWatch to manage all of our devices, which include Apple, Android and Windows smartphones and tablets. Although we are primarily an Apple shop, AirWatch makes it easy to support any device our users are comfortable with. It is important to embrace what the end users are comfortable with so they can be most productive.

Second, in addition to managing the devices, you need to set policies and procedures for mobility. Not only creating a mobile device policy that addresses acceptable use, but the policies that will actually be pushed to the device. For example, our team decided on a few key policies to start with knowing that once our users were comfortable with those, we could add more, if needed.

[Related: BYOD Best Practices: Communicate Clear policies, Provide Options and Leverage IT in New Ways]

Our first few policies included a passcode of five digits or more on all devices, an automatic wipe after 10 failed attempts and a screen timeout of five minutes. We also use AirWatch to push the policies for Exchange settings and corporate Wi-Fi. A great benefit of using AirWatch is the ability to choose either a “Corporate Wipe” or “Full Device Wipe” at any time. We use Corporate Wipe when a user leaves the firm to gracefully take off the corporate Exchange information. When a device is lost or stolen, we use Full Device Wipe, as it protects the company and user from data falling into the wrong hands.

The Business Value of Mobility for Executives and End Users

Executives are usually pushing to have to newest and coolest stuff. (That is, until they see the cost.) Then it’s my job to put together a great mobile solution that is functional and affordable. In some cases, there is no great alternative, so then we decide how important it is. In most cases though, we can come up with a happy medium. For example, in smaller, less-used conference rooms, we could use a Surface Pro 3 instead of the brand new Surface Pro 4.

End users are really enjoying mobility and the flexibility it provides to not only to be more productive, but also enjoying life a little bit more. Instead of constantly worrying about a work issue while at the beach with the family, they can quickly and easily put together a document or email to solve that issue and get on with enjoying their family time—and usually do it fast enough that their spouse never notices they’re working. Many of our clients have an expectation of great, quick service and response times and rightfully so. Mobility allows this to be possible even after hours and on the weekend.

Because you liked this blog, more business mobility predictions for you:


Katie Smeal

Katie Smeal

Katie Smeal leads customer relations at VMware AirWatch. She enjoys sharing the stories that highlight companies across the globe revolutionizing their business and industry through mobile innovation.


  1. Sushant Paraher

    Excellent insights Katie!
    It is very important to empower employees with mobile tools and devices so that they can better communicate and work online, even on the go. What I think, as more and more businesses continue to adopt mobile solutions in 2016, the cloud/mobile service provider will play a more crucial role with their platform offering, technology and other value-added services such as analytics.

    Thanks for sharing the post, hope 2016 will bring some more news and trends in business mobility.

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