Tech Corner: The Remarkable 2, for Family Lawyers?

Published: 01/04/2022 05:54

We date ourselves with our I.T.

My generation grew up on the ZX Spectrum 48K. The noise of Jet Set Willy loading on a cassette tape is an iconic sound of my childhood. I graduated without ever having owned a PC.

Hershman & McFarlane was famously birthed on a pair of Amstrad word processors. Mostyn, then a junior barrister, imagined the Form E into existence with an IBM PS/2 (720KB).

We have lived more recently, thanks to Covid, in remarkable times these last two years. It beggars belief that less than two years ago we were all fretting and stroking our chins on how to make contact with ancient judicial laptops using Skype for Business.

Zoom, Teams and the dreaded CVP (itself, about to be surpassed) are now part of our everyday existence.

A whole etiquette has grown up about remote court hearing behaviour. The ‘I’m not a cat’ advocate was perhaps the zenith of online lockdown advocacy mishaps (although, it was also said that if a cat was trying to pass itself off as an advocate, this is exactly what it would have said). The anonymous and briefly unmuted (presumably accidental) declaration of ‘f**kwit’ during an advocate’s cross-examination comes a close second.

I.T. is more than just the tech on the desk. It is about how we are and how we behave. How far we have come? We can look back at previous generations and marvel at how they got by with the typewriter, the fax, the Roneo duplicating machine and then photocopier, the suitcase and pink tape.

And so it is that I write a few comments about the Remarkable 2 with a degree of trepidation. I am dating myself. I have owned one for a week or so. I fancy my ownership of this new kit as being cutting edge. My fellow lawyers on Twitter are asking me all about it, whereas future generations may well regard this as defunct. Even Twitter may, one day, go the way of ‘Friends Reunited’.

But for the moment, this is the whizzy bit of tech that everyone wants to know about, and I have promised too many people I will write a review.

What life-changing task does the Remarkable 2 perform? Well, it replicates a pencil and paper. I know, I know, but this is really good.

My file-laden wheelie case of old has given way to a rucksack with my laptop, iPad Pro, spare screen and a host of wires. But when I sit down ‘in the zone’ to do the final sketching out, in most of my cases I have scratched this out on a piece of paper and pencil.

I used to go to court with a counsel’s Blue Book. I have dozens, perhaps hundreds of them, knocking about. They are saved just in case someone complains, someone sues, someone demands that I justify myself. Quite how I would find the details of a case going back several years, from the mountain of Blue Books, one can only wonder. But the data is there, somewhere, in that dusty pile in the corner.

But since lockdown I have fallen out of love with my Blue Books. I have been tinkering with my tech and trying to do it all electronically. But I can’t do it all on screen and so on my desk there are lots of notes and bits of paper, with ideas for this or that or the reckoning for a settlement which I brokered last week. It had all become a bit of a mess.

And this is where the Remarkable 2 comes in. The idea is that it is an electronic scribble pad. An etch-a-sketch for grown-ups in 2022; yet this is a smart and expensive bit of kit.

Staring back through time and to the room at the end of the long corridor, I can still picture 6-year old Rhys in his primary school remedial handwriting class. I am afraid things have not improved much since then. I dread to think what my handwriting would reveal about my personality, if so analysed. However, even my dreadful scrawl is converted by Remarkable 2 into neatly ordered type, at the press of a button.

When you purchase a Remarkable 2 you get a pen (get the ungraded one, with the electronic eraser just like on a pencil) and a choice of protective covers. You should also purchase the ‘Connect’ subscription. This allows you to sync the Remarkable 2 with all of your other electronic devices via an App you download on to them. You can also ‘integrate’ your Remarkable 2 with your cloud storage system such as Dropbox or OneDrive, so that you can access PDFs direct from where you keep them.

That mountain of Blue Books can be consigned to history, and you can bring some discipline into the storage of your scribblings. It is the last piece of the family lawyer’s electronic set-up. It took me less than an hour to figure it out and get going. It is intuitive and easy to use.

You can add a PIN number to the device, for security, and the Remarkable Cloud storage is in Europe and states that it is GDPR compliant.

This device is not an iPad substitute. It is not a heavy bundle reader. It is your Blue Book replacement for the post Covid, post paper, digital age. You can annotate the odd PDF document using it and then send it back to your primary device but it will never be your main reader as a lawyer.

The Remarkable 2 feels slick, with Apple levels of consumer magnetism and packaging. It has a price tag to match it. Notwithstanding the price, in the post Covid world, we have fallen out with love with paper.

The Remarkable 2 was the future (once).

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