Wearables and the Future for Lawyers

There’s a big market right now for the “future” of legal services. Speakers across the globe peddle their ideas, beliefs, and predictions for the demise or growth of the legal profession. Technological advances seem to promote the futurists’ optimism. I don’t take too much from the predictions of doom and gloom, though I do see significantly more opportunities for solo and small firms to compete simply because of the technology. And the wearables market will extend these lawyers’ reach.

Android Wear Watches

Experienced attorneys will remember the not-so-distant-past, before the internet and computers, when “we didn’t need computers to handle our tasks.” A short number of years later, this prevailing view is all but extinguished. Computers and mobile devices dominate the legal landscape. Some surveys show that 91% of attorneys use a smartphone. That’s an incredible adoption rate, considering the relatively short time smartphones have been on the market. I predict a similar adoption rate for wearables, once some of the kinks and quirks get resolved.

However, I’m not talking about Google Glass, although the possible uses is intriguing. The wearables I’m thinking of will be micro-extensions of the smartphones we’re carrying around. But some folks find it hard to comprehend the value of a wearable watch. For instance, here’s comment I clipped from iPhone J.D.’s post on the new iPhone 6:

I don’t see any advantage to it. A wrist watch tells you the time. OK. Why do I need to spend $350 for that? The Apple Watch requires you to have an iPhone in your pocket. Is it really that burdensome to pull out your phone to do whatever you want to do? Do people really think it’s a good idea to talk into their wrist, a la, Dick Tracy? And, do we really care how many calories we burned walking from our cars to our office elevators? It just seems gimicky to me, and of little usefulness.

Wearables matter

You won’t really appreciate the value of a wearable until you’ve actually used one full-time — which is one reason I’m reserving harsh comments about Glass. I was skeptical about a wearable watch until I tested Samsung’s Gear 2 and Gear Fit. And then Google announced Android Wear, and I because even more excited about the benefits of wearables.

I’m almost 1 week into full-time use with my LG G Watch, and I’ve seen 2 immediate benefits to owning a smartwatch. First, a smartwatch gives you quick access to information. Second, the watch frees you from having to fumble with your phone for information.

Carrying my phone is a hassle, and I hate fumbling with my phone in my pocket, so my device gets removed at every available opportunity. Unfortunately, when I set my phone on the counter or plug into a charger, it also means I’m “missing out.” Sometimes this is okay (perhaps even preferable), but occasionally I need information. The watch helps me remain connected without having to peek at every beep, buzz, or chirp. My watch displays the message on my wrist, and I can choose to send a response or ignore the message. Also, since my watch does contain a pedometer, I actually try to achieve my daily step goal, which often means skipping the elevator and using the stairs.

Wearables matters because as the technology improves, so will the watches’ capabilities. Apple Watch will integrate with Apple Pay and bring NFC payment technology to a user’s wrist. Plus, Google’s announced some additional Android Wear features that will enable offline music and GPS sync.

If you listened to Futurelawyer’s discussion on wearables, you heard discussion about safer driving habits. I’m not sure that distracted driving will improve, but I now appreciate the ability to tap my wrist and respond, “I can’t talk right now.”

The fact that my smartwatch is virtually silent is another benefit. Steven Sciple discussed this benefit when he talked about his in-court call dilemma. Being able to subtly check my device is enormously beneficial.

The evolution continues

Admittedly, the current wearables market is really designed to entice true technophiles. My LG G Watch has plenty of software and hardware issues, which would frustrate “the common man.” Version 2.0, and even some of the forthcoming watches, will have much more applicability and further appeal. If you’re considering a smartwatch, the LG G Watch is a great buy, especially on its current sale (through 9/23/14).

I’m really excited for the current line of wearables, especially for the evoling designs and applications. Best of all, nobody will call you a “Glasshole” for wearing a watch.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.