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Senior LawyersThe newsletter of the ISBA’s Section on Senior Lawyers

October 2013, vol. 5, no. 1

Chair’s column: Technology really is for seniors!

With the new advances in smart phones, iPads and tablets, and new windows operating systems, the tech world for senior lawyers became a whole lot easier. Gone are the old DOS commands and many of the other problems that many lawyers who have now become senior lawyers did not want to deal with when the computers first started 30 years ago. Times have changed and it is now possible to dictate to the computer with good accuracy using voice recognition to draft letters and other documents. For example, this column was dictated on my iPhone and e-mailed to my Legal Assistant to put in proper format.

Thanks to the great work of Hon. Edward Schoenbaum, Lauren Golden, Gary Rafool, Senior Section Technology Chair Frank Ariano and Don Mateer, the prior chair, the Senior Lawyer Section is putting on a Computer Basics Program for Senior Lawyers in Chicago on October 18. The details of the program are contained in another article in this newsletter. What this section has been working to develop for the last couple of years is to provide a resource for senior lawyers in order to assist senior lawyers to become tech savvy in the 21st century.

Our children and our grandchildren are technology savvy. My two-and-half-year-old granddaughter has been able to use the iPad and iPhone to play games and do various tasks on the iPad and iPhone since she was able to say “play.” If a two-year-old can manipulate the iPhone and iPad there’s no reason senior lawyers with all their education and experience can’t do the same. It does take some time and some patience and the ability to laugh at one’s own mistakes but getting the basics of tech savvy is worth the time and effort. There is a whole world of information out there and user-friendly applications “apps” that are on most smart phones and tablets can be taken advantage of to do word processing, edit documents, keep notes, and read books. The apps are intuitive and even senior lawyers with a little help can learn to use them.

E-mail is now the basic form of communication between family, businesses, lawyers and all other segments of our society. We have reached a point where senior lawyers need to be proficient with at least the basics of computers, smart phones and tablets in order to communicate with others, especially their children and grandchildren. The “not on my desk” mentality of many older lawyers is no longer appropriate because it denies them access to the world. There was a time when the learning curve required to be proficient with computers supported that statement. The difference is that today, a senior lawyer can have a smart phone or a tablet device that is user-friendly and reasonably intuitive which allows her or him to learn how to do what he or she wants to do. There is no big cumbersome computer that makes you tied to your desk and requires you to have a lot of knowledge on how to make that contraption work. Today’s lightweight laptops and powerful desktop computers allow a user to become proficient in a short time.

Prices are going down. With the advance of Windows, Macs, the new iPhone and iPad and Android operating systems, work with computers and smart phones is even easier. The Droid phones and other competing tablet technologies and smart phones all have comparable features and are developing single-purpose apps as well. You can read books on iPads, Kindles, Nooks, Droids and other tablet systems and follow the steps in the books to learn what to do or answer your questions. Even the Illinois Bar Journal has an e-edition. Your iPhone can make dinner reservations and then can show you how to get to the restaurant. Fastcase, Lexis and WestLaw Next are now accessible by smart phone. Sports scores and updated game information, as well as breaking news, can be sent right to your phone if you want. You don’t have to use all the features and can pick and choose what works for you. The fact is you now have a choice and you can control what you want.

You can even save your grandkid’s artwork, take action pictures of or videotape their activities on smart phones that are even better than a regular digital camera. Sharing art, photos and video are easy. Text messaging is easy and used by teenagers extensively. If you want to communicate with your grandkids, especially teenagers, learning how to do text messages is a must. In fact, using text messaging is probably the only effective way you will have to communicate with a busy teenager. I found it creates a whole new world of communication with my teenage grandkids that are too busy to talk on the phone but can text back and forth during their busy schedule. In fact I have an old iPhone in my office that my assistant and I use to text back and forth when I am out of the office and can’t talk on the phone.

The desktop computer is now becoming obsolete and we are all going to start using tablets, laptops and smart phones to communicate, do our legal research, draft documents and engage in all kinds of other tech-related activities that many lawyers and real people already enjoy. Being computer-phobic is no longer a status symbol. It simply keeps a person from taking the opportunity to expand the possibilities to enhance his or her life.

Technology really isn’t that difficult anymore. The Senior Lawyer section is trying to give senior lawyers an opportunity to learn the basics or refresh their basic skills so they can become computer-savvy and enjoy today’s technology and what it has to offer. No experience is necessary as the program is basic and designed for those lawyers with limited or no computer skills and those that need help with or an update on the basics. It is designed to help you where you are and there will be people to answer your questions and assist you. Sign up for the Senior Lawyer’s October 18th course and begin a new adventure. All thanks to the dedicated efforts of a number of the hard-working members of this Section Counsel who want to share their expertise to help you enjoy what technology can do for you. You will be truly amazed at what you can do and how easy it is to learn. Take advantage of the opportunity, I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised about what you can do at the end of the course! ■

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John T. Phipps is engaged in the general practice of law in Champaign, IL as John T. Phipps Law Offices, P.C. His primary emphasis is in the areas of family law, general civil litigation, real estate, probate, and business law. He is a past chair of the ISBA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section Council and Co-Editor of the Section’s newsletter and Chair of the Senior Lawyers Section Council.


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