Top iPad Apps for Lawyers

Vol. 30 No. 2

By

Ashley Hallene (ahallene@hallenelaw.com) is a sole practitioner in Houston, Texas, specializing in oil and gas law, title examination, and oil and gas leasing.

Almost every discussion of reasons to buy an iPad includes at the top of the list the abundance of resourceful applications. There are more than 250,000 applications for the iPad currently available in Apple’s App Store, resulting in an almost endless list of reasons for using one in your practice. Below are just a few of the apps I think will make your workday easier and more efficient.

Dragon Dictation (Nuance Communications; free). Nuance created this voice-recognition application to run on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. This is a cloud-based application, so you will need to be connected to the Internet either through WiFi or via a 3G or 4G connection. If you install the application and start it up without a connection, you will find everything grayed out, except for a pop-up message that reads, “No Internet Connection.” Once you have a connection established, the application opens up to a minimalist black screen with a silver-and-red button in the center and the words “Tap and dictate.” Tapping the screen starts the recording process. Normally with Dragon software you would spend some time after installation training the application to recognize your speech. Dragon Dictation does not require any initial training. It is surprisingly accurate from the moment it is installed. If a word is transcribed incorrectly, simply double tap the word on the screen and Dragon will ask if you wish to delete that word. You can double tap and drag your finger over a series of words if you wish to delete whole sentences.

iJuror (Scott Falbo; $19.99). This app for litigators allows attorneys to record juror information, group responses, assess the importance of responses, rank jurors, and produce a report to review your findings. iJuror allows you to color-code the jurors for an easy visual reference: green for the jurors you like, red for the ones you don’t, and yellow for any you are uncertain about. You can select each juror and add notes such as age, gender, ethnicity, and marital status. You can drag jurors to a basket on the screen to indicate whether they are your strike, opposing counsel’s strike, or removal for cause. You can use the same drag feature to seat the final jury once it has been assigned. iJuror does limit the categories of information you can take notes on; you can add notes manually in the note field, but that takes almost as long as writing it on an old-fashioned sticky note. If you prefer a sticky-note system on the iPad, Scott Falbo also has developed iJuror Stickies ($4.99) to simulate this more traditional method.

iTrackMail (Daniel Amitay; free). This handy little app tracks when an e-mail you send is opened by the recipient. Once you install the app, simply open it and create a message. You will be prompted to enter the subject of your message. Then go about typing your e-mail and send it as you normally would. You will notice in the body of the e-mail, between the field where you type your message and your signature block (if you have one), are three lines which read:

  • Write your email above here as usual.
  • This is a tracking image. Do not delete.
  • This image will automatically change.

The recipient does not see this part of the message; instead, there is a line between the body of your message and your signature block which reads, “This email sent by iTrackMail.” An upgrade to the pro version ($4.99) makes the image invisible, so you will no longer see this text. Because the tracker is an image, if your recipients’ e-mail does not automatically load images, they will have to choose to download images before the receipt will be sent. Unfortunately, at this time the app does not allow you to attach documents to your e-mail. Hopefully, future versions will integrate with Dropbox (see below) or a similar cloud storage provider so you can forward documents with the tracker attached.

TrialPad (Lit Software LLC; $89.99). This admirable case organizer and trial presentation software is as mighty as most desktop presentation software. TrialPad allows attorneys to easily access documents, play videos, and annotate or zoom in on evidence during a trial. You can highlight, redact, or add exhibit stickers to documents and create reports of all your evidence with the exhibit numbers. You can import documents via Dropbox, e-mail, iTunes, Photos, or from a variety of other iPad apps. If you find a particular exhibit is intriguing or persuading to your jury, you can designate it as a key documents with your annotations and callouts saved. Then call up your key documents as needed during closing argument.

Dropbox (Dropbox, Inc.; free). Dropbox is a very user-friendly file-sharing program for synchronizing your desktop and portable devices. The app is tied to your Dropbox account, which allows users up to 2 GB of storage for free. Need more space? Dropbox offers multiple tiers of storage space, including 100 GB ($9.99 monthly or $99.99 annually), 200 GB ($19.99 monthly or $199 annually), or 500 GB ($49.99 monthly or $499 annually). Lawyers should be aware that Dropbox does not allow users to encrypt files before sharing, and doing so will violate their terms of service. So, although this service is very handy for sharing and collaborating on documents, it is not recommended for storing privileged and confidential client information.

Circus Ponies NoteBook (Circus Ponies Software, Inc.; $29.99). This handy note-management system is loaded with a variety of features. You can use it to record meetings and lectures and automatically sync them to your notes. The notebook feature allows you to set up dividers to create sections and subsections, and then fill the pages with your notes, PDFs, web research, spreadsheets, and anything else. You can create electronic trial notebooks for your days in court, ending the days of carrying around boxes full of binders, transcripts, and file folders. Notebook also has a handy multidex feature, which indexes every word in the note, along with attributes such as the date the note was changed, what keywords you assigned to it, or any attachments it may include.

Bento 4 for iPad (FileMaker, Inc.; $9.99). Bento is a powerful organizational tool for any small business owner, especially solo and small firm lawyers. The program allows users to easily create databases for tracking cases, checkbook registers, trust accounts, mileage, etc. You can build a library database for your forms with notes on how each should be used. If you use Bento on a Mac computer, you can synchronize databases between the iPad and your computer. The program comes with several built-in project templates and easy access to the Bento Template Exchange with professionally designed and user-submitted templates.

PDF Expert (Readdle; $9.99). PDF Expert lets you mark up PDF files from your iPad. You can import documents from your e-mail, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Docs, or through a variety of other iPad applications. You can search text, highlight, underline, and strike through as you peruse your PDF files. It also allows you to add bookmarks, freehand drawings, and sticky-note style comments to the documents. You can fill in PDF forms and easily apply signatures to your PDF files. The user interface allows you to move between multiple PDF documents using the tabs along the bottom of the screen.

LogMeIn (LogMeIn, Inc.; free). This mobile remote desktop application grants lawyers access to files on their desktop anywhere they can find an Internet connection. LogMeIn is available on the iPhone as well, but the larger screen size of the iPad, combined with the utility of this app, makes the iPad a viable laptop replacement when working away from the office. LogMeIn can synchronize with Dropbox, Google Docs, Box.net, and Microsoft SkyDrive so you can easily access files you have stored in the clouds.

Notes Plus (Viet Tran; $7.99).This great note-taking app does a beautiful job of creating the pen-and-legal-pad experience on your iPad. It allows lawyers to use a stylus, or even their fingertips, to write notes just as you would on a legal pad. You can use the integrated iPad keyboard if you want to type notes as well. You can later export individual pages or entire notebooks as PDF files through e-mail or Dropbox. The application adds to this process by allowing you to record voice notes embedded within your written notes, even recording when you switch between applications. Unfortunately, you cannot e-mail the audio files at this time. Hopefully, this feature will be available in future updates.

Keynote (Apple; $9.99). This visually stunning presentation app allows you to view and edit both Keynote ’09 and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. You can import the files through e-mail, the web, iCloud, a WebDAV service, or iTunes. You can quickly create beautiful presentations from your iPad. It synchronizes via iCloud, allowing all your devices to stay up-to-date. You can export the presentation to Keynote or PowerPoint or as a PDF file.

TranscriptPad (Lit Software, LLC; $49.99). This application is brought to you by the same developers as TrialPad, mentioned earlier. It allows attorneys to review and annotate deposition transcripts. You can open any .txt file directly from an e-mail message, or you can import a file from Dropbox. The application allows you to associate the file with an existing matter or create a new matter. At this point, you are ready to start reviewing your deposition. Don’t feel like scrolling? TranscriptPad can scroll through the text for you at an adjustable speed, like a teleprompter.

Yes, there’s an app for that. In the end, there are limitless possibilities for apps to help you in a variety of practice settings. This list is just a sampling of the ways you can take advantage of the technology now available at your fingertips.

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