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Attorneys paying attention to increased use of personal mobile devices in workplaces

Attorneys need to view mobile devices as a communications channel for their associates, clients and partners

Attorneys, whether at law firms or in corporate legal departments, are among the professionals who are using their personal smartphone or tablets for work purposes.

But lawyers have to prevent data breaches, not just because of state laws, but because of relevant confidentiality guidelines in state rules of professional conduct. Also, many companies are instituting BYOD [bring your own device] policies.

Just consider what is taking place in the workforce as a whole. A new survey of 325 U.S.-based workers shows that 96 percent of those surveyed possess a mobile device. In addition, 42 percent were provided with a mobile device by their employer, but 58 percent did not get a mobile device from their employer and purchased one on their own. Of those who purchased a device on their own, 66 percent use it for work-related purposes.

Given these trends, attorneys may likely be using mobile devices more frequently.

“While lawyers, both in-house and from law firms may be reticent in the utilization of mobile technology as a means to communicate given concerns regarding security and privacy, this will have to start to change,” Jeff Corbin, a former practicing attorney and now the CEO of the theEMPLOYEEapp, which sponsored the survey. “[The] survey revealed that almost every employee has a mobile device (96 percent) and are conducting work from their phones.  Given the way mobile technology has permeated the business world, attorneys need to consider mobile as a communications channel for their associates, clients and partners.”

The survey comes two years after a Cisco survey showing that 95 percent of respondents said their organizations permit employee-owned devices in some way, shape or form in the workplace. Back then, the average number of connected devices per knowledge worker was expected to reach 3.3 by 2014, up from an average of 2.8 in 2012. 

Similarly, Matt Nelson, e-discovery counsel at Symantec, said in an article last month for InsideCounsel, that “many lawyers fear that allowing employees to use personal devices for business purposes will lead to increased data privacy, ownership and security challenges. That sentiment often leaves in-house attorneys in the common, but unenviable, position of being the lone dissenter among other business stakeholders trying to save the organization money by instituting a BYOD approach.”

“Today’s in-house counsel is empowered to become part of the organization’s solution and step away from playing the role of the bad cop when it comes to implementing a mobile device strategy,” he added.  

He recommends that in-house counsel be proactive and “seek to understand and address the potential risks and costs associated with mobile device usage sooner rather than later.”


Further reading:

Addressing the impact of mobile devices on in-house counsel

Technology: Securing corporate data in an Internet-based world

The BYOD horse is out of the barn: What now inside counsel?


Contributing Author

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Ed Silverstein

Ed Silverstein ( is a veteran freelance writer and and editor for magazines, websites and newspapers. He writes frequently for ALM Media's

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