Posted on: 10/26/2012
Kelly E. Jones, Harris Beach
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Attorneys spend their days accumulating paper in client meetings and court appearances. With the iPad and iPhone, attorneys can leave behind pads of paper and carry a device smaller than the size of a day planner to take notes, mark-up documents, and make presentations. These devices are more than just Angry Birds and Kindle books—they are business devices that help you stay organized and better serve clients. Attorneys carry iPads to gather notes, stay organized, and research case law while in meetings with witnesses or to assist with conducting trials. With everything synced via the cloud to a desktop, it is easy to work on cases from court or at the office.
Doing Lawyer Things on Your iPhone and iPad – Productivity and Calendaring
Lawyers live by their calendars. While the calendar app built into the iPhone and iPad is decent, developers have come up with some great alternatives—Agenda Calendar and Calvetica. Both of these universal apps offer navigation and event input advantages (fewer taps) over the default Calendar app.
Capturing time is an Achilles' heel for every successful private practitioner. Especially when traveling, or just during a busy day, it can be very difficult to track and memorialize all of the work completed. For most attorneys, the iPhone or iPad is with you all of the time, so it seems natural to use it as a vehicle to keep track of your time. There are many products out there, but it would be best if you are with a firm to reach out to your IT department and see if your time keeper software manufacturer has a mobile app available. This way, your time could be entered directly into your time keeper without any further work. If this is not available, there are many other options, like iBillable, to keep track of time remotely and make it easy to transfer captured time to your Legal Assistant or back to the office to input into your firm's billing software.
Many attorneys find it difficult to find the time to type out a lengthy e-mail, letter, deposition report or even motion. Dragon Naturally-Speaking dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition app that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or e-mail message. The dictation is very accurate and can be transferred and sent in an e-mail, or put directly into a document.
Case Management & Discovery – Word Processing
Compatibility with Microsoft Word is still king. From past tests (general formatting, pleading formatting, business agreement formatting), only two contenders in this area are worthy of consideration—Documents to Go and Quick Office. A key differentiator of the Documents to Go app is its support for footnotes. It also has some decent bullet and numbered list options in the app. The main gripe is that the interface is unattractive and file management is a bit difficult. Where Documents to Go wanes, QuickOffice shines with an easy to use file manager.
As much as the iPad is an innovative device, one of its biggest drawbacks is that it cannot store files in a way that is recognizable from a PC or Mac. There are no document folders on the iPad, so there is no way for you to store or organize your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, videos or other types of files. Instead, you must access those files through the individual apps on the device. Further, there is no USB port, but a more elegant way to physically transfer files is used on the iPad/iPhone—iCloud, Dropbox, skydrive, etc., give access to files anywhere anytime—wirelessly.
Transferring files between an iPad or iPhone and computer is easy using File Sharing in iTunes. Because the iPad syncs with iTunes, you must use iTunes to transfer files between the device and your computer. This allows you to transfer a document to or from the iPad. However, the down side is that not all apps allow File Sharing and when it is allowed there are complexities when you want to sync documents on two different computers. Another—and even easier— way to transfer and access files on your iPad is through the "cloud." Easily put, the cloud refers to apps and services that store data on other computers (otherwise known as "the cloud."). There are many iPad apps that allow access to files on the Internet. First, Dropbox, allows you to wirelessly transfer documents and other files directly to your iPad. Dropbox is easy-to-use service that allows you to sync your files online and across all of your computers. To get started you will first need to download it on your personal computer. Once it's installed, Dropbox creates a new folder on your computer—just drag files and folders into the My Dropbox folder and they are automatically synced to your online account. Your files are also automatically updated whenever you make changes to them. If you want to edit any of the documents in your Dropbox, you can use the Documents to Go app (discussed above) to open the document and make changes.
A very important use of the iPad for attorneys is dealing with documents we work with everyday—pleadings, discovery, correspondence, reports, contracts, case law and others. More often than not, these documents are in PDF format, but you will also want an app with the ability to view other documents types as well. GoodReader is one of the most popular iPad apps. It can handle just about any type of file—Office and iWork documents, PDFs, text files, HTML pages, photos, music and videos. It imports documents using a number of different options, including a temporary Wi-Fi connection, via specific web URL, or by pulling files from mail/FTP servers, Google Docs, Dropbox and many others. Once GoodReader is loaded with the documents you want to read, you will be able to flag important documents, move documents in folders, email documents and much more. For example, if you are reading a PDF file, you can change the orientation, crop, bookmark, highlight, underline, cross-out, insert text, or even convert it to a text file. You can also print documents from your iPhone or iPad with this app using an AirPrint-compatible printer.
There are virtually hundreds of iPad and iPhone apps designed to provide access to particular state statutes, codes and rules of procedure. If you are interested in having any specific state's law or regulations at your fingertips, a simple search of iTunes store will provide many options. For example, on my iPad, I have downloaded the New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules (CPLR) and New Jersey Rules of Court for quick access when on the road. However, there are two apps worth highlighting that are undeniably helpful to any lawyer, no matter where you are geographically located.
The first is Fastcase, the iPad companion to the online service. The iPad app is free to use which means that you wont be getting as many features as you might if you signed up for a paid subscription. That said, the research features are still quite nice. To start, select New Search and enter your search terms. Federal cases (Circuit, District and Bankruptcy) are available, as well as case law from all 50 states. You can filter your search by Jurisdiction and Date Range, and you can choose to have your result check Authorities for cases citing and cited by a particular case. You can go through your results and save them to a Saved Document area. If you upgrade to "premium" edition of Fastcase, you get a number of useful features, including customer support, dual-column printing of documents, more powerful sorting tools, the ability to email a case or search results, and access to more libraries among some other features.
Additionally, most litigators at some point or another must work with PACER (short for Public Access to Court Electronic Records), as part of their practice. FedCtRecords is an iPhone app centered around searching PACER. The app also allows the user to save a case to a virtual briefcase for later use. Once you pay to download and view a document on PACER app, you can email it anywhere.
Litigators read a lot of depositions and the iPad provides a nice ability to review them remotely. In the past, one could typically create a searchable PDF version of the deposition transcript and then read the transcripts in the GoodReader app, using the standard PDF highlight feature to mark significant text. However, TranscriptPad is a brand new app for the iPad, and is very helpful for attorneys reviewing transcripts on the go without having to carry around thousands of pages of documents. The app is fast and powerful, with a strong emphasis on mobility. You can import transcripts and exhibits in .txt and .PDF form via iTunes, e-mail, or Dropbox. The key feature of this app is the ability to designate text that is significant. To do so, simply tap the line number at the beginning of the passage and tap the line number at the end of the passage. You can then associate an issue code (created by you) with that passage, perhaps something general like "damages" or perhaps some specific issue in your case. You can associate each issue code with any of six colors. Once you are finished designating a deposition, it is easy to export a report of what has been designated.
The iPad in the Courtroom
Another way lawyers can use the iPad in their practice is at trial. A full exploration of all apps available for trial is beyond the scope of this article, however a brief overview follows. When it comes to lawyers in the courtroom, iPad app developers are so far concentrating on two areas: juries and presentation of evidence.
Apps pertaining to juries are an example of a terrific use for a tablet computer. When many lawyers pick a jury, they often do so with a legal pad and sticky notes, diagramming the panel to keep track of who is who and who said what. This is where iJuror comes in handy. White it appears to be geared primarily to juries in criminal trials, it can still be used to select a jury in other cases as well. The graphical layout of iJuror allows you to enter information for each juror, including name, employer, hometown and more demographical data like age, sex, race, marital status, children, education, prior arrests, and any prior jury experience. Once you've entered the information, you can then just drag and drop the panelists to choose jurors or alternates or dismiss them, and indicate the reason for their dismissal. The primary benefit of benefit of iJuror is that it gives you a clean layout of your jury panel. The downside is that it does not allow you to create your own variables of the information that may be of greater value to you for the case in question, nor will you be able to "score" jurors on any scale that is a true benefit of your typical computer-based voir dire program.
Jury Duty is another jury selection app that you may need to complete before you come into the courtroom, because a lot of data entry is required. You can enter information on each jury panelist, with selected information and a number of optional fields. You can also create a list of topics you want to cover with each juror, and can track these topics as "discussed" or "not discussed" on the individual panelist page. Once all juror information is entered, you can put together the Seating Chart, and drag and drop assigned jurors to any seat. You can then indicate whether the panelist was accepted, rejected, struck for cause or gave a positive or negative impression. There is also a handy notes field to record any thoughts you might have on the panelist.
In contrast, Jury Tracker is really designed to deal with your jury after they have been selected. It captures the reactions of jurors through-out the trial. Once you have entered information on all of the jurors, each will have their own screen for you (or a paralegal) to record their reactions throughout the trial. You can record facial reactions (nodding, shaking head, crying, smiling) as well as body motions (looking at watch, bored, taking notes). You can also file these reactions, and designate jurors as "leaders" or "followers," plaintiff or defendant-oriented, or as a "key" juror. Once this data is entered into the app, you can then run reports for each juror or the panel as a whole. Reports can be filtered to show general reactions over the course of the day or for a particular witness, to see who is leaning for the plaintiff or defendant, or those with positive vs. negative body language. These reports can be saved and emailed to others on the trial team, if desired. A major drawback of Jury Tracker is that information can only be entered for one juror at a time; if multiple jurors react to testimony at the same time, it will be cumbersome to move back and forth between juror screens to record their reactions. You'll also need someone to enter the data for you, most likely a paralegal or assistant who is there solely to observe the jury and enter the information—it would be a full-time job, but likely cost the client less than hiring a jury consultant.
As these trial apps mature, it will be interesting to see if they integrate with others, as with the document management apps. It would be nice to pick your jury using iJuror, then take all the information on the final jury panel and send it automatically to Jury Tracker. Instead, you are currently stuck with reentering all of that information if you plan to use both apps at trial.
Once the trial is started, you will need technology to present your evidence to a jury. Currently, on both TrialDirector and Sanction are the industry-standard PC-based applications that are in use for Trial Presentation. However, there are two iPad apps that are alternatives to TrialDirector and Sanction, although both have distinct limitations and neither of the iPad apps mentioned have the powerful features of the two PC-based programs. However the apps do have uses in the courtroom, under the right circumstances and at the right trials, hearings or even depositions.
The first app is TrialPad. Setting up a case in TrialPad is easy—simply select the "+" sign on the home screen, and a new folder will pop up that you can name and give a description. Then it's time to add your documents. As this is being written, TrialPad only supports PDF files, so you will need to make sure everything is converted to PDF before you use this app. You can only add the files in two ways—using File Sharing in iTunes, or by email. TrialPad promises to add Dropbox integration in future release, which would definitely improve ability to add documents. You can organize the documents by file or by folder on the left side of the screen; just press the "+" sign at the bottom to add a folder. Once you have your documents loaded into TrialPad, you can start organizing them, moving them into different folders by issue, witness or other criteria. You can also mark a document as "Hot" by pressing the flaming button in the upper-right corner. Then you can easily access all Hot Docs in a particular case by pressing the Hot Docs button in the File Manager. TrialPad offers three basic annotation tools-highlight, red pen and redact. You can use any of these options to mark up your exhibits either ahead of time, or during presentation at trial or hearing. When you are ready to present a document, make sure you've attached a VGA cable to your iPad, attach the cable to a projector.
The other trial presentation app, Evidence, supports more file types than TrialPad, including JPG, PNG and TIFF images, as well as Powerpoint and Text files. However, multipage TIFFs, which are routinely used in the more robust trial presentation programs, are not supported here; you cannot move past the first page of the TIFF. At this time of this article, documents could only be added to Evidence through File Sharing in iTunes. Documents are handled differently by Evidence—there are no folders, so you cannot organize the documents for a particular case, and there is no way to reorder the exhibits in the database. For annotating documents, Evidence has a highlight and underlining/circling tool, but no redaction feature. A significant drawback of Evidence is the inability to display a full page of a document—it will only display partial pages. Many times you need to show a judge or jury a full document, even though they may not be able to read all of the text on it without zooming.
Neither TrialPad nor Evidence comes remotely close to the power of a Sanction or Trial Director, but if you only need to present a few files in a small case or to a judge at a hearing, you probably don't need all the bells and whistles. These apps, limitations notwithstanding, should work just fine in small matters.
Outside the Office
Lawyers need apps to help with practice beyond just strictly legal or courtroom related. Here are some of the most practical and popular apps for lawyers to assist with day-to-day practice.
TripIt. TripIt "automatically" takes all your trip details and creates one helpful itinerary that is there when and where you need it – on your on your smartphone or tablet, sync'd with your calendar, and online at tripit.com. When you receive a confirmation email from anywhere you book, simply forward it to TripIt. TripIt instantly recognizes reservations from 3,000+ booking sites including cruises, restaurants, concerts and more.
Around Me. AroundMe quickly identifies your position and allows you to choose the nearest Bank, Bar, Gas Station, Hospital, Hotel, Movie Theatre, Restaurant, Supermarket, Theatre and Taxi. AroundMe shows you a complete list of all the businesses in the category you have tapped on along with the distance from where you are.
CardLasso. CardLasso allows users to take photos of business cards with their iPhone camera, send them to Lasso2GO with one touch, and receive the contact information via vcard, csv file, or directly in Salesforce CRM.
The challenge of writing about technology is that it is always changing—at this time of this writing, the newest version of the iPad, or "new iPad" or "iPad 3" as it has been called, had just been released by Apple. The new iPad is comes with some great new features that would be beneficial for lawyers, including a voice dictation key, high resolution screen, and a faster processor. The good news is that the improvements in the new iPad do not affect the basic functionality of the device, so that what you have learned on a first or second-generation device should still apply. It is important to note that while the iPad's hardware gets updated roughly once a year, the apps that run on the device are being updated constantly by their developers, and features come and go with sometimes dizzying frequency. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to consult tech websites and blogs geared for lawyers, like Tablet Legal (http://tabletlegal.com), The Offsite LawTech Center (http://offsitelawcenter.com/) or Walking Office (http://walkingoffice.com).
Kelly Jones' practice is primarily focused in New York and New Jersey on litigation and consulting involving FDA-regulated products including food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics. She serves on the DRI Young Lawyers and Drug and Medical Device Steering Committees.