I already know what you’re thinking: “Are you serious, McQuiston? You’re saying that I can use the same device I gave my 5-year-old this morning — to keep her busy with her favorite “Dora the Explorer” app — for work?”
Absolutely. Let me explain:
There are currently more than 900,000 apps for the iPad, and almost that many for Android tablets and smartphones. Thousands of those are either legal or productivity applications, with more being revealed all the time. Used correctly, the iPad can help you work faster — even better. It can help you “find” more time to spend with your family and friends, or whatever else you enjoy outside your practice.
One word of warning — actually, two: data security. It matters. The scope of this article prevents a detailed explanation of why and how to protect your iPad when you use it for work, but take it as a given that you must do it. Your ethical duty to protect client information is the same whether that information is on paper, on a device, or in the “cloud.”
But, with the right protections in place, your iPad can revolutionize how you work. So maybe it’s time to pry that iPad out of your kid’s hands, (or grab it off your coffee table), and toss it into your briefcase.
Not Just One Tool.
A Whole Toolbox
My iPad takes up less space and is lighter than a legal pad and pad holder. The virtual keyboard makes no noise when used. Your iPad can be unobtrusively used in trial, too. Write your notes on it with a stylus. Use it to “pass notes” virtually, via one of the many secure “Chat” applications, between you and your associate at counsel table during voir dire, depositions, or meetings.
With mobile technology, you now have not just one tool, but a whole toolbox. Which tool you use depends on the job you’re planning to do. Rather than “either/or,” when it comes to laptops, tablets and smartphones, it is now “all of the above.”
Case Management on the iPad
Most, if not all, of the leading case management programs out there have full iPad functionality. With your CM program’s app, you can capture time, bill (and review bills), view and work with documents, run your calendar, work on tasks, and do virtually everything else you’d do in the office, right from your iPad anywhere you happen to be. The day is fast approaching when a tablet-platform device may even replace your laptop altogether.
Which Apps? Trial Presentation Is a Key Strength
In addition to creating and editing content on the iPad (documents, notes, presentations, spreadsheets, photos with “callouts,” exhibits, etc.), the device can even serve as a Trial Media Controller. It handles the basics, like showing a PowerPoint or “Keynote” (Apple’s presentation app), displaying individual trial exhibits (photos, videos, documents) with ease.
You can also move beyond the basics. Wirelessly synced to an Apple TV (connected via a single HDMI cable to a portable HD projector or multi-monitor hub), you can use your iPad to run not just a presentation, but an entire trial, while you remain untethered. Using any one of a number of trial apps (one of the leaders is Trial Pad, litsoftware.com/products/trialpad, $89), attorneys can organize, access, and present an entire trial, hearing, or arbitration, all within the app.
The unobtrusiveness of the iPad, and its Apple TV/AirPlay wireless connection, helps the process “fade” into the background, rather than becoming the show itself. The jury’s focus is on the evidence, not the interchange between counsel and trial media consultant (“Next page, please. No, not that one—the one before that!”).
More Legal Apps
Apple offers hundreds of legal-centric apps, with that number increasing daily. The same is becoming true for other platforms, such as Android and Web OS. Below are a few suggestions to get you started.
First, here are my personal favorite apps. I use these at work just about every day. They are all available on the Apple App Store:
- Office HD—lets you see, work on, and save Office docs, spreadsheets, etc.
- Notability—take, organize, email, even upload to Box.com, all your notes right on the iPad with a stylus
- Keynote—Apple’s presentation tool
- • iAnnotate PDF—allows annotation, callouts, highlighting, and note-taking “inside” .pdf documents
- FRE—Federal Rules of Evidence
- Casemaker—Allows you to access your Casemaker research account. Casemaker is the free legal research product for Colorado Bar Association members.
- Lexis Advance for iPad—allows access to your Lexis research account
- Slideshark—a full-featured presentation tool that runs Keynote or Powerpoint slides, allows the user to view a timer, notes, etc., all while projecting the slides via your Apple TV/AirPlay device. It even has an app for your iPhone that turns it into a “remote” for the iPad Slideshark app
- Whiteboard—a handy whiteboarding tool, to use with Apple TV “mirroring”
- GoodReader—a document reader that opens just about every document format, and allows foldering, etc.
- FaceTime—comes with the iPad, allows real-time videoconferencing with other iPad/iPhone users—via wi-fi connection only
- The following are two other good legal app lists, providing you with even more suggestions:
- legalipad.com—a blog about using the iPad in a law practice
- • bit.ly/iPad4litigators—a book, by Law Tech expert Tom Mighell, about using the iPad in practice; many helpful app tips
Remember — There’s an “Off” Button
Don’t worry—your smartphone and iPad won’t suck up all of your free time. They have “off” buttons you can use anytime you want. By using the devices when you want during the workday, you’ll get done faster, and therefore knock off earlier. Better yet, you’ll get your weekends back.
But you may have to buy another one for your kids to use.
By Doug McQuiston