When I was considering the topic of this column, a suggestion was made that I look into using iPads in trials and litigation. I have not used an iPad at trial (yet), but on conducting some online research, I found there are plenty of others who have and who have written about doing so. I thought it’d be most helpful, then, to compile and share the information about whether and how to use the device in litigation or, more generally, the law office. No longer will lawyers have to lust after an iPad, now they can justify its professional use!
Having now had an iPad since almost the beginning, I want to point out something about this “magical” device. It is truly magical, but it is just one more piece of hardware to help you to create and consume information in the broadest sense. By “information” I mean anything digital, whether it be a photograph, movie, television show, book, magazine, or music. The brilliance of the iPad is that even without all the additional applications you can add to it, you can create or consume quite a bit of information. But, when you add applications, it will shape-shift into an entirely new device created by and for you. If you’re an artist, you can add and use applications to create and share your art. If you’re a musician, you can become a DJ and create music. And if you’re a lawyer, there are apps that will help you in your legal business and practice. The question, then, is how do you find them.
If you are looking for general information about using an iPad to run a business, there are plenty of resources you can find just by Googling. Apple’s own site collects quite a variety of business apps for the iPad. Two other sites that discuss and review business applications for the iPad (and its hardware as well) are TechRepublic and Mashable. I’m sure there are more. These sites feature a number of articles, blog posts, and websites compiling and discussing the pros and cons of various applications in the business environment. I even found a spreadsheet that examines the top iPad business apps and how they were discussed or rated by various resources. A review of this chart might provide you with even more ideas of how to use the iPad in the way you want to use it, which is the whole point
There are several websites and blogs dedicated to the use of the iPad and its apps in the business of law: MacLitigator, Legal iPad, TabletLegal, and TechnoEsq.com are just a sampling of what’s out there. One writer at SummaryCrime.com offers a four-part series on how to use the iPad in law. I even found a court reporter’s website that discusses using the iPad in a legal setting.
Use of the iPad at trial has become much more frequent on both sides of the counsel table. We’ve come a long way from using the iPad only as an alternative to a computer for projecting images in the courtroom. In fact, a number of lawyers on the MacLaw listserve and other sites have discussed their use of the iPad at trial. In June 2010, Tim Smith handled a trial using his iPad: “I had a custody report which I scanned and imported into ArtStudio. I used a pogo pen to mark up the report. . . . I then e-mailed these marked-up docs to my Mac account, saved them to my photo app, and they were easy to use in court.” In October he did it again and explained how that went:
I just completed a felony jury trial, [and] used Note Taker HD to write my notes. It allows you to write comfortably in a space at the bottom while a smaller, readable version appears at the top. This ability to put more notes on one page is important. This ability to take notes is the last link, in my opinion. Never used paper. I walked to the lectern with just the iPad. I used the PDF transcript to impeach . . . [and] Safari pages, including Wikipedia, to cross the chemist. I had my Keynote slides ready for closing.
The website The Jury Expert focuses on effective trial presentations and provides several articles discussing how iPads have been used in trials and the applications that work best in this environment. Anita Fuoss uses Note Taker HD at court. As you can see, each person’s use of the iPad varies, and his or her preferred applications do as well.
So far I’ve not used my iPad in a trial, but I do travel with it and use it from time to time in my legal business. My favorite general-purpose apps and their use are (in no particular order): TripIt (access to my travel details); zinio (for reading magazines); iBooks and Kindle (for reading books); Twitter and other social applications; NetNewsWire (to read RSS feeds, synchronized with Google Reader); various newspaper and television applications, such as New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and CBS News; Pages (to write documents that can be e-mailed or saved); Keynote Remote (to control my Keynote slide presentations on my Mac); Netflix and other video applications or shows; FileMaker Go (to access and create FileMaker databases); Square (to take credit card payments); AppBox Pro (to do about anything other than brew coffee—one of the very best multipurpose apps); Dropbox (for file sharing and access, which also can be done with SugarSync, Evernote, Jungle Disk, Files Pro, and many others); Skype (for voice and video calls); Dragon Dictation (to dictate e-mails); Billings (for time and expense records); 1Password (the essential app to access passwords, software licenses, and other private information); Undercover (which, like Find My iPhone/iPad through the Apple Mac site, helps recover and secure a lost iPhone or iPad); Circus Ponies NoteBook (to collect, create, and store information—I also use several other note-taking applications, as outlined in my Mac User column in the June 2010 issue of GPSolo magazine); and LawStack and other apps that place on your iPad the entire contents of the Constitution, the various Rules we lawyers live by, and other legal resources too numerous to mention.
This list doesn’t come close to mentioning all the similar apps that I either haven’t used much or don’t know. With 350,000 apps in the App Store, it stands to reason I haven’t exhausted all the possibilities. And this list doesn’t begin to provide all the fun apps I use to while away the time: music apps, drawing apps, game apps, and the like.
Finally, there is a whole world of accessories for the iPad that will make your use of it more effective. There are cases and covers galore, speakers, Bluetooth keyboards, and any number of other opportunities to outfit your iPad. I did just purchase something that really has improved my business use of the iPad: an “actual” keyboard to input data. There are a number of options, but the one I found most useful is the ZAGGmate keyboard and cover. You stand the iPad up in its groove and use its Bluetooth keyboard as you would any, then disassemble and snuggle the iPad inside the ZAGGmate cover (made of a lightweight metal that matches the iPad perfectly), protecting your iPad from harm and making it easy to put in your briefcase.
I hope this article will give you ideas for ways to use your iPad in your law practice. Those using an iPad merely as a computer replacement are not getting the most out of it. The iPad can be a game-changer in litigation if you use it to focus everyone’s attention on the information you want to impart—and not the tools you use. After all, isn’t grabbing the judge’s or jury’s attention and riveting them with a well-presented story the goal? Used creatively, the iPad does just that.