One of the great things about Android for lawyers is the ability to tether your phone to a tablet (assuming you haven’t upgraded and signed on to a data package) or computer.

Tethering is the process of using your phone’s 3G or 4G (or at worst 1G) connection to create a wireless or wired device connection.

There are several Android applications that will do this process for you. A quick search of the Android Market will get you started. A couple of my favorite apps are PdaNet or Barnacle WiFi Tether.

Barnacle is my favorite tethering app. Barnacle creates a WiFi connection, unlike PdaNet, which requires a cable to connect.

Unfortunately though, one of the downsides to Barnacle is that it requires a rooted phone. This is necessarily bad (see this post on why), unless you just purchased the new Motorola Droid Bionic and you’re test driving the unrooted device before you decide to root it (sorry for the tangent). Then, you run into a slight problem because Barnacle no longer works with your device (side note: Klink is a new app that claims to run on an unrooted device. I haven’t tried it, but it looks promising). The alternative is to utilize hotspot provisioning (at a cost) from your wireless carrier.

When you’ve figured out that mess, then you’re ready to optimize your tethered phone. So, what do I mean by “optimize”?

First, I think of optimization as increased productivity – being able to accomplish things while you’re away from the office. You might check out this post or this post for some productivity increases. Tethering allows you to access the internet from your “non-connected” device. This means that the only limits to your capabilities are the internet speeds. My favorite way to increase my productivity is to be able to access my Dropbox files from my tablet, and read briefs, motions, correspondence, or even edit documents away from the office. Having access anywhere means that I can be anywhere and still be active.

I regretted not having my tablet at a recent hearing. The judge questioned some case law and statutory authority. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the tablet to search statutes or pull old case files from my office to back up my position. I’m not sure whether this would have changed the judge’s opinion, but having the quick access to the internet and files certainly would have sped up the judge’s decision making time.

Second, I think of optimization as increased work-life balance. Although this is similar to increased productivity, being able to access anything virtually anywhere, means that you’re not tied to your office or desktop. You can travel to distant locals, enjoy family reunions in the wilderness, and still maintain an in-office appearance.

Finally, optimization means enjoyment. My family took a trip over the Thanksgiving holiday to visit family. We were in the car for a horrendous 18 hours (yes, we were ready to be done, both ways). Something that was very cool was being able to be connected during the entire trip. We checked weather forecasts, road conditions, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and Netflix during our trip through the middle of nowhere. We can talk all day about using a tethered device in your law practice, but the truth is, tethering makes things enjoyable. Sadly, we cringe when there’s no internet, and breathe a sigh of relief when we discover an open internet connection we can tap into while waiting in the courthouse, Starbucks, or McDonald’s drive through. Tethering feeds that intravenous drug we call the internet into our system. Tethering helps us “enjoy” life again.

There are dozens of ways for attorneys to enjoy a tethered Android device. How do you optimize your tethered connection?


Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.

Let's discuss this (you can use Markdown in your comment)