Better, Cranking and Quitting

02 May Better, Cranking and Quitting

Apologies in advance to Mr. Merlin Mann for riffing on two of his great essays[1] in titling this post, but the lawyerly-but-overused “Diddy, Cheatem & Howe” didn’t really fit the theme. More on that in a minute, but first a little iPad exercise, an announcement and finally another iPad tip.


A couple weeks ago I wrote about a couple practitioners who enjoy huge gains in productivity and effectiveness in their practice using a very small number of iPad apps. As I mentioned then, my experience is similar. I suspect 95% or more of my work on the iPad is accomplished using just four apps: Readdle Docs, PDF Expert, Byword and Keynote.[2]

I thought this was typical, but when I was at the ABA TechShow recently, most iPads I saw were chockablock full of apps. Not just a few more than I had, mind you, but pages and pages and pages full of apps. And within those pages were folders full of even more apps. Most were apps I’d seen or tried but had long since deleted. Sure, its fun to try out apps after reading about them on blogs like this. And, unlike piling the day’s mail on your kitchen counter, having more apps doesn’t take up more space. So what’s the problem?

For me, its about reducing friction to getting my work done and making good choices. Those extra apps you tried out months ago just get in the way. Those extra apps force you to make needless, repetitive choices about where to find the tool you need or how to get some small task done. In its own small way, its the paradox of choice where more is in fact, less.

So here’s your project:

  • backup your iPad
  • delete all your apps
  • add back apps only when you need them and only add the ones you need

This isn’t a novel tactic, but hopefully you’ll find it to be a helpful one. If you can’t abide by it after a couple days, restore your backup. But I’m guessing you’ll find that you are able to move through your tasks just a little more quickly and with a little less fiddling.


TabletLegal was born at an interesting time for me. Had the iPad been introduced 6 months earlier or 6 months later, I probably wouldn’t have given it a go. But at the time, my workload was light (despite my marketing efforts) and I wasn’t finding opportunities in my firm to do the things I wanted to do. So, in this lull (and because I was interested in learning WordPress, wanting to try out blogging and having a love of Apple products), I created TabletLegal. With some effort, the blog enjoyed a minor amount of success. More importantly, I connected with some great people, I got to do some new things and I learned a whole lot. It was good.

But time marches on and other opportunities presented. I’ve since opened my own firm which, knock on wood, has been tremendously busy in a very good way. I’ve also become heavily involved with a charity that I care deeply about. TabletLegal, on the other hand, no longer provides the rewards and interest it once did. While I feel like I’ve learned what many of my readers really need and/or want from this blog, I’ve also realized that those things are decidedly not what I’m interested in writing.

To abuse the metaphor, TabletLegal has become that extra app on my home screen, the distracting choice, gumming up my ability to get the stuff I want to do, done. I need to delete some apps and TabletLegal is the one to go.

Fortunately, if you like this sort of thing, many excellent choices remain. I encourage you to check out all of the sites listed below (there are more, but these are my favorites in this category). They are all excellent and full of reviews, comparisons and news about using the iPad in your practice.

Finally, thanks to the readers, commenters, developers, hecklers, fellow blawggers and others who helped or contributed to TabletLegal. I appreciate it. Really.


A final tip.

The authors of the other blogs listed above will probably agree with me that the number one question we get asked is “what apps should I get.” I originally thought TabletLegal would answer that question with a continuously rotating list of new and great apps. There certainly are enough apps to talk about and new ones being rolled out all the time.

Over time, my answer changed to “it depends what you want to do.” While I believe that is the right question, I think the answer is simpler than that open ended question suggests. As I’ve maintained before, the list of computing tasks for many lawyers is relatively short. No surprise then that the list of apps needed for a lawyer to be more productive while mobile and to have choices about when and where they work is also relatively short.

So grab what you need, quit reading this silly blog and get back to doing that other thing.

That’s what I’m doing :)



  1. TweetBot, Reeder and Instapaper get a ton of use as well, but strictly speaking, those are more for staying up on the news than practicing law.  ↩

  2. For the uninitiated, those essays are Better and Cranking. Required reading if you’ve ever felt like you aren’t making your best stuff right now.  ↩

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