Mark Bennett 2013-10-02 04:06:20
The Case for a Tablet How to make the iPad an integral part of your law practice. “Our company's strategy is really simple. What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes ... And we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers.” —Steve Jobs (1983) When I started law school in 1994, one of my first purchases was an IBM ThinkPad 360, which boasted an unbelievable 170MB of storage capacity and a black and white screen. I was one of the few people in my class of more than 300 with a laptop instead of a legal pad. Fast forward to today, and I’m still the same techno-geek who is by definition an “early adopter” of technology. The term “early adopter” originates from Everett M. Rogers’s Diffusion of Innovations, in which Rogers proposed that adopters of any new innovation or idea could be categorized as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards, based on the Bell curve. By definition and stereotype, lawyers are laggards when it comes to technological advances. The main reason is fear of change. The purpose of this article is to remove the fear surrounding the iPad and introduce the device as an invaluable tool to your practice—as opposed to an oversized music player or neat video console for your kids. THE DIGITAL LEGAL PAD The first decision each person has to make before undertaking a successful conversion to the iPad is whether you are a typer or a writer when it comes to taking notes. The Typer If you’ve decided that you are a typer, there are countless options available to you, from Apple’s Wireless Keyboard (available in 15 languages at last count; $69) to my personal favorite, the ZAGGfolio. The ZAGGfolio ($99.99-$129.99) is a relatively thin, all-in-one multifunction keyboard and case for the iPad. It comes complete with a removable Bluetooth keyboard and a built-in stand system that reduces the number of accessories I have to attend to while traveling. The Writer Though I love my ZAGGfolio, I still find the need to take notes the old-fashioned way from time to time. Before deciding on the note-taking app that fits your particular style, I highly recommend you invest in a good stylus, which in my mind is the Jot Pro ($29.99). Built with a rubber grip for more command and comfort, it magnetically attaches to your iPad for easy storage and transport—and seems to simply glide across the screen during use. So, with stylus in hand, ready to venture into the first stage of integrating your new iPad into your practice, you run headlong into the most over-developed app platform available— the note-taking app. Noteshelf The first note-taking app I purchased was Noteshelf ($5.99), and it is still one of my favorites. The app comes with some basic paper types to choose from, but for an additional charge of $.99 per template, you can choose from more than 70 styles of paper to write on. The one drawback, and the main reason I strayed from the app, is that it lacks Dropbox integration. Penultimate Another great choice—and the app I use the most—is Penultimate ($.99). After being purchased by the developer of the Evernote app, Penultimate is easily integrated into Evernote or Dropbox. Adding to the functionality of the app is the ability to easily email your notes after the conclusion of any meeting. Note Taker HD If you’re looking for the app that does it all, including annotation of PDF files, shrinking handwriting to fit a page, clip art, stickers, etc., I give you Note Taker HD ($4.99). While I love all the features available in the app, I don’t use many of them and, as a result, find myself going back to Penultimate. SoundNote Remember the days when you walked into your college class, pulled out your tape recorder, laid your head down on the desk, and woke up an hour later fully rested with an audio recording of the lecture? (Surely I’m not the only one who did that.) SoundNote ($4.99) is the integration of audio recording and note-taking. Beyond never missing the important detail, the audio is time-synched with what you were writing at the time the recording was taking place. I’ve found this app to be invaluable during expert interviews, third-party witness interviews, and other important meetings where every detail can have significant importance to the case. The app also allows you to email a copy of your notes, with or without the audio attachment. RESEARCH If you have a Westlaw or Lexis account, you probably have the app that complements your subscription to those services. But there are some other research resources that don’t require one of these accounts. Fastcase Fastcase (free) is a service using proprietary algorithms to bring the best search results to the top of the list, which makes research quick and easy. LawBox LawBox (free) is a legal reference app that provides access to the text of the United States Code and state statutes from Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. TRIAL One of the questions I get most often is whether the iPad can actually be used in a trial. The simple answer is yes. However, organizing a case file into a single location that can be easily retrieved on the fly is a must. While all the applications mentioned above do a great job to get a lawyer to trial, collectively they would be too cumbersome to try and use as a tool for an effective trial presentation. Thank goodness for the folks at Lit Software. TrialPad TrialPad ($89.99) is by far the best app available for the trial lawyer wanting to integrate the iPad into his practice. You can use it to manipulate, create, design, edit, and formulate your evidence, exhibits, and presentation materials, and then upload that work directly into your case file within TrialPad. The app gives you the ability to organize that information into a logical sequence, and into a single location, for use during the trial. Be it PDF, Word, TIFF, video, audio, picture, or other form of media, TrialPad has you covered. The app also allows you to share what you’ve done, and teams can actively collaborate on all aspects of the case with the press of a single button. TranscriptPad Just like its sister app, Transcript- Pad ($89.99) has all the features a trial lawyer would expect from an app designed to review, highlight, and annotate deposition transcripts— and the work seamlessly integrates with (surprise) TrialPad. TranscriptPad comes with a search tool that makes the deposition index obsolete, issues reports on the codes you enter, imports the exhibits into the file, and allows for interactive collaboration between iPad users, just like TrialPad. If you’ve wanted to board a plane without a bulky transcript, pens, highlighters, or legal pads and find a place on the folddown tray to get the review done before you land, then TranscriptPad is the answer to your prayers. To read the entire version of this article, go to texasbar.com/techipad. MARK BENNETT splits his practice serving as outside general counsel for numerous companies of all sizes, both publicly traded and private, and handling complex corporate and commercial litigation matters involving business transactions, mergers and acquisitions, contracts, labor and employment, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and workouts. Bennett is a regular speaker at CLE events across the country and is frequently consulted about new technologies and their application to the legal profession.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
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