Law is in Brandon Siegal’s blood. A third-generation lawyer, Siegal has a unique perspective on how the legal industry has changed over the past few decades. He’s put this perspective – coupled with his years of experience working for one of Canada’s largest law firms – to good use in founding Siegal Tax Law, a startup with an agile, technology-oriented approach to tax law. On occasion, he’s also been known to attend red carpet events to interview celebrities.
His PRIV has proved invaluable in both cases, though it’s been most instrumental to his legal career.
“I’m trying to provide a more modern approach to legal services,” says Siegal. “That to me is very much about using this phone – you’re able to write proper emails, draft documents using Word, have a keyboard and just be professional, not a child texting with emojis. At the same time, you’re not chained to your desk, and you can run your office from wherever you need.”
“That ultimate, no-compromise approach is everything,” he adds.
Brandon’s not the only professional who refuses to compromise with mobility, nor is he the only professional with a PRIV. Check out these other influencers we’ve profiled, including these brotherly fashion executives, this teenaged tech CEO, this Shark Tank host, this best-selling author and pastor, this Irish tech blogger and entrepreneur, this TV chef, this international sales executive, this aerospace engineer, this manager at a major Dominican insurance firm, this small-town sports editor, and this consulting firm CEO. And don’t forget to also read through PRIV’s official product page, how-to demo videos and our latest review roundup.
Greene: Let’s start with a bit about you. When you aren’t running your firm, how do you spend your time?
Siegal: I think, like everyone these days, I’m a bit of a foodie. I like going to restaurants and taking pictures of my food and the atmosphere – the camera’s great for that. I love theme parks; I’ve traveled the world going on roller-coasters. That’s my big hobby. I just had a kid, so that’s pulling a lot of my attention right now, as well.
I also occasionally attend red carpet events – my favorite interview was when I cross-examined Charlie Sheen at the height of his Tiger Blood routine, and the whole thing ended up on TMZ. It was a lot of fun.
Siegal: I’ve been loyal to the brand for quite some time – my first BlackBerry was the 7210, released back in 2003. We jokingly called it the “BlueBerry”; it was the first device they released with a color screen. It was also where you really had to earn your Brick Breaker stripes – I’ve got to say, I’m a little disappointed there’s no Brick Breaker on PRIV! What’s up with that?
I was also selected as an influencer in 2010, and given a pre-release Torch 9800.
Greene: What was it that first drew you to PRIV?
Siegal: When I left my previous firm to found my startup, I had to give up my BlackBerry Z30, which up to that point had been my favorite phone. There was a problem, though – I couldn’t find a replacement anywhere. Disappointed that no new flagship BB10 device had been announced or even rumored, I begrudgingly decided to get an iPhone, and purchased the 6S Plus on launch day. I saw the launch announcement for the PRIV as I was having my SIM card installed.
To the shock of the retailer, the next day, I walked in and proudly handed back the iPhone. BlackBerry was back, and I felt guilty I strayed. I pre-ordered the PRIV the same day, and as fate would have it, I received it on my birthday, first thing in the morning on November 6.
Greene: How are you liking it compared to previous BlackBerry devices?
Siegal: I love having the keyboard back, having gone with a touchscreen for a couple of years. It’s amazing how fast your fingers remember what it was like typing, and what a joy it is to write a long email or edit a document. I also love how the high-resolution screen lets you zoom down onto websites and read off the device in a way you couldn’t with older phones.
The overall form factor of the device is great as well, because it lets you use both the physical keyboard and the onscreen keyboard depending on your needs. You’re not forced into a business phone like the Classic or the Passport where you lose screen real estate, and the PRIV doesn’t need to make use of a unique aspect ratio to accommodate the keyboard. It doesn’t sacrifice anything for the functionality.
I also think the curved screen is brilliant – people think it’s a gimmick, but they don’t realize that it’s designed to save space and hide the hinge on the keyboard. The phone would be twice as big without it, and that they’ve added extra functionality to the edges is just a bonus.
Hard drive space is another big thing for me. I was able to buy a 128GB card for my phone for a reasonable amount of money, and change that card as I needed to. I don’t need to spend hundreds more for fixed storage, nor do I have to micromanage how much room I have left.
Finally, I love having access to every app thanks to Android – it’s great to not have to tell my kids that they can’t get a game their friends are playing because daddy’s BlackBerry can’t run it; I can now run everything.
Greene: Speaking of apps, which do you find yourself using most often?
Siegal: Microsoft Office, for one. I spend a lot of time editing documents, and with Office I’m able to access, edit and email very efficiently.
My firm also uses a law management application called CLIO, which doesn’t have a BlackBerry-specific version, and I use LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat fairly often. And while it’s not an app, the widget functionality of Android is something that I’d miss quite a bit if I were to switch back to BlackBerry 10, especially the Live Widgets with stuff like weather and battery usage – I’ve gotten quite used to them.
Also, there’s the Hub. You run your world out of Hub; you rely upon it for everything. Having that integrated into the Android OS is everything (though it still doesn’t quite measure up to the BB10 version of the app).
Greene: How do all of these features and apps play into an average workday?
Siegal: From the moment I wake up to the phone beside my bed, it never leaves my side. Throughout the day, I’m running my practice, making calls to clients, reviewing documents and sending emails, and pulling documents from our server. One nice feature of moving to the Android OS is that the PRIV’s compatible with Android Wear products.
I have a Motorola 360 watch, so I can get my notifications and read my emails without having to take my phone out of my pocket.
Siegal: I do run into a bit of skepticism, because people have moved on and assumed that BlackBerry’s not “cool” anymore. I really enjoy showing them they’re wrong; showing them how good the PRIV is. I admit, sometimes I kind of peacock with it; I’ll purposely flip out the keyboard just to say “hey, look what I have!”
Greene: How would you rate the phone overall?
Siegal: I would say it’s a 9/10, and the only real complaints are that I’m still waiting for some of the BlackBerry features to be improved. I’m waiting for Hub to get better and I’m waiting for Blend to come back. As a first product on a new operating system, it’s better than I ever expected it to be.
Ultimately, what I think is nice about the PRIV is that there’s a unique selling factor to it. There’s something different when you stack it against other Android phones. How do you compare an LG with a Samsung?
I don’t think you can.
If you want to know more about PRIV, check out what our fans are saying, look at the official PRIV product page and watch our how-to demos. If you are wondering where you can get your hands on a PRIV, check out our availability blog. Many carriers such as AT&T in the U.S. and Rogers and Bell in Canada are also offering PRIV at new, lower prices (as low as $299.99 on two-year contract in Canada or $21.34/month with zero down at AT&T).