By Joachim Bamrud, Thu Nov 29 00:00:00 GMT 2001

Legal professionals can use mobile devices to increase efficiency, and are doing so in increasing numbers.

Lawyers are keen Internet users and among the most active users of mobile phones. Yet, the merger of the two technologies has not generated the same enthusiasm. That despite the promise of wireless data technologies as a way to boost efficiency and productivity in a profession where those attributes would normally be highly welcomed.

There are no reliable statistics on how many lawyers use wireless devices to access legal data today. Most experts agree that it's a relatively small percentage, but both usage and the number of users are growing every day.

"It's more and more common, although it is done by a relatively small percentage of lawyers overall," says Ross Kodner, a lawyer-turned-legal technology consultant and founder of Milwaukee, Wisconsin's MicroLaw, Inc.

In the past year, there's been a growth in lawyers taking client or other information with them via Palm or Visor PDA's, or notebooks as more law firms provide dial up, VPN or Internet access to their firm's systems, says Andrew Z. Adkins III , director of the Legal Technology Institute at University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law and author of "Computerized Case Management Systems: Choosing and Implementing the Right Software for You."

The Amicus Attorney case management system enables lawyers using wireless PDA's, BlackBerries, mobile phones or laptops to remotely query the office's client information databases, while services like WestLaw Wireless allow wireless PDA's and Blackberry-type e-mail pagers to access legal research materials, says Kodner.

In addition, popular services like the Lexis-Nexis research database, FindLaw legal portal and Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator are all accessible through wireless web clipping services.

In addition, there are a growing number of WAP sites with legal data. They include European sites like Leyes (Spain), (which also includes legal data for several Latin American countries), Juridicum Online (Austria) and the American Bar Association.

And, as one book industry official told TheFeature in a Joachim Bamrud is an award-winning journalist with 17 years experience as a writer and editor in the United States, Europe and Latin America. Bamrud has worked for various print, broadcast and online media, including Latin Trade, Reuters and UPI.