“Did you know that by 2050 the average desktop computer will have the processing power of all humanity?” This very bold statement made by Richard Susskind, attorney and keynote speaker for the American Association of Law Libraries 2012 Annual Meeting in Boston might lead one to ponder what will humanity be doing with all of this processing power, and more importantly, what might the desktop computer of the future resemble?
If the recent University of Victoria, Canada survey of law students -which had an astounding 90%+ response rate, is any indication, the processing strength will power an increased use of smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, and social media. Consider:
- 89% of incoming law students own smart phones that can browse the internet (up from 84% last year and 50% two years ago), with 48% of the total being iPhones, 29% Android and 11% Blackberry (Blackberry usage down from 27% last year).
- 31% of students own tablet devices or e-book readers, up from 19% last year.
- 33% of students identified Google Drive as their favorite tool for collaborative document editing. 22% favor DropBox, 4% Apple iCloud and 3% Microsoft Sky Drive.
Furthermore, the following chart from the survey copied below shows that 95% of law students use some form of social media leaving only 5% who make no use of online social networks at all.
So what does all this mean for the law firm of the future? First, a continued decline in traditional law library environments replete with thousands of hardcopy books, as more attorneys embrace e-books and online research using apps on a variety of devices.
Second, a definite decline of current day document management systems for storing and organizing internal work product as younger attorneys will more actively embrace the cloud for storage and sharing of their documents.
Third, as the use of print media takes a big dive, we will witness a dramatic upswing in leveraging social media and other new types of communication apps such as Red e for connecting with co-workers, existing clients, and potentially new clients.
Although, the survey summarized above concerns Canadian law students, similar results surfaced in a survey of the general American population as shown in this infographic from The Future of Mobile News and a Piper Jaffray survey of American teens summarized in an online Fortune magazine article. No doubt some of these survey respondents will be America’s future lawyers.
Finally, most notably, all of the above will be done using multiple portable devices such as new generation iPads, Smartphones, and any number of yet unknown electronic devices already in the technology pipeline, such as the soon-to-be released iPad mini and others that are merely a thought in someone’s head right now.