Twenty percent of lawyers now work from home according to the latest American Bar Association (ABA) legal technology survey report 2015, representing a significant jump on the previous two years’ figures of 13% and 12%.

The increase is matched by a corresponding decrease in the number of lawyers who say they work in a traditional office space leased or owned exclusively by their law firm, with that figure down from 71% to 63%. Sixteen percent of lawyers now work in traditional office space shared with another business, a small rise of one percent on last year’s figures.

The results highlight the extent to which the legal profession’s workforce is increasingly mobile, and the extensive survey, which received answers from an average of 907 lawyers to each of its six sections, revealed that lawyers spend on average 25% of their time on law-related tasks away from their primary workplace.

With that mobility comes an inevitable increase in the use of mobile devices, and respondents to the survey were asked if they have a policy governing the use of laptops, tablets and smartphones outside of the primary workplace. While 85% of respondents from firms of 500 or more lawyers reported that their firm has a mobile phone policy, the overall figure was 39%, with the figure dropping in accordance with the number of practitioners. (Click here for a summary of the ABA’s findings on security.)

Respondents most likely to report accessing the internet while working on law-related tasks away from their primary workplaces are from firms of 100 or more attorneys (84%) and 10-49 attorneys (76%), while respondents from solo firms are the least likely (67%).

The number of lawyers using broadband for internet access has dropped to 53% from a high of 66% in 2012, and respondents have consistently reported an increase in cell phone modem/tethering – up from 19% to 26% for the same period.

Firms of most sizes report an increased usage of private wireless networks to access the internet for law related-tasks while away from their primary workplace, with the exception of sole practitioners. More than 45% of all respondents from each firm size reported using private wireless networks to access the internet, including 53% of firms between 100-499 lawyers; 71% of firms with 500 or more lawyers; 59% of firms of 2-9 lawyers; and 46% of solo firms.

Fifteen percent of respondents report using mobile hotspots most often to access the internet for law-related tasks while away from their primary workplace, while overall 6% of respondents reported using mobile broadband cards or USB devices.

Laptops are most the most commonly used mobile device, although this is down on last year from 48% to 42% and the use of smart phones is on the increase, up 28% to 31%, while the use of tablets is up from 15% to 16%. For laptops password protection remains the primary security measure respondents use to protect physical access to their laptop and its data. More than 90% of respondents from all firm sizes said they use a password to protect physical access to their laptop and its data, including 100% of respondents from firms of 100 or more lawyers.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents from firms of 100 or more lawyers report using file/data encryption as a security measure to protect physical access to their laptop and its data, followed by solo respondents (18%), respondents from firms of 2-9 lawyers (16%), and respondents from firms of 10-49 lawyers (14%).

Forty one percent of lawyers said they had downloaded a legal app to a smartphone and the most-often mentioned product brand names for downloaded legal specific smartphone apps were Fastcase (41%), WestLawNext (34%), Legal Dictionary App (18%), and Lexis Advance (18%). Other legal specific apps downloaded include TrialPad (8%), Courtlink (5%), LexisNexis Legal News (5%), LexisNexis Get Cases & Shepardize (5%), TranscriptPad (5%), HeinOnline (4%), Westlaw News (3%), Casemaker (3%), and Clio (2%).

Forty-five percent of respondents reported that they have downloaded a general business app for their smartphone. They are LinkedIn (71%), Dropbox (62%), Evernote (38%), Good Reader (18%), Quickoffice (17%), Docs to Go (14%), LogMeIn (13%), Box (6%), and Notability (5%).