MacNotes

Vol. 1, No. 11

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California. A frequent speaker on technology topics, he is the Editor-In-Chief of  GPSolo Magazine and  GPSolo eReport, a member of the Editorial Board of the ABA Journal and Experience magazine. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, he has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He holds faculty positions at California State University of the East Bay and the University of Phoenix. He may be reached at jallenlawtek@aol.com. You may also get updated technology information from his blog: jallenlawtekblog.com.

 

The Division Chair, Laura Farber, recently acquired an iPad. As a result she commenced, as do most iPad owners, collecting apps that might make her life and her practice better and more enjoyable. She asked me for suggestions and then asked that I do a column about apps for lawyers and, in particular, iPad apps that might prove helpful in court. As this is the last column I will write for the eReport during her year at the helm, I thought it would prove an ideal time to write the column.

Before I get into my discussion of apps for lawyers, I do want to mention that the really big news in the world of Mac is not that Laura got an iPad (although that is close and probably would have been the number one thing, but for the fact that Apple upgraded all of its laptops last week). I will address the upgrades to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air products in my next column, as I have just received the first of the series for me to review, the 11" MacBook Air, with enough power to run as a primary computer for many. If you want to check out the specs of the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air computers, go to Apple’s website and explore the new features and specifications.

OK, so much for the really big news. Now let’s turn to something that many of you will find very helpful, apps for lawyers to use in their practice and, in particular, in court.

Although most of the apps that I will discuss in this column will run on all iterations of the iPad, some will not run as well on the original iPad, and a few will not run well on the iPad 2. All will run on the new iPad (known to some as the ‘iPad 3”), and almost all will run better on the new iPad because of its faster and more powerful processor. Third-party accessories allowing you to store data off the new iPad (which remains memory challenged due to the absence of a media slot and the failure of Apple to increase onboard memory beyond 64GB) also enhance the iPad’s utility.

Likely all of you know that the iPad handles contacts, calendaring, and email fairly elegantly and quite effectively with built-in apps. Many of you already know that competing apps show the calendar and contact information somewhat differently, and many of them interface with the built-in apps that come with the iPad. You may also know that the iPad taps into Apple’s iCloud servers and moves your information into the cloud, so that iCloud can synchronize your iOS devices to each other and to your computer(s). You will want to get email on your iPad, and likely handle both your contacts and calendars there, without regard to whether you stay with the built-in apps or acquire one or more of its competitors. If you want a more fully featured personal organizer, check out Pocket Informant. If you want an app designed specifically to handle reminders (aka “To Do’s”), take a look at Remember the Milk. As the name implies, it works for your shopping list too; but it does offer an easy-to-use and well-structured reminder system (also consider using Evernote for this purpose). I have recently started checking out another app called OmniFocus. OmniFocus may prove to be one of the best overall productivity apps in the App Store; but it takes a lot more effort to run it than do some of the simpler apps.

Although you can take notes on an iPad, I do not think you will enjoy doing any serious word processing on the iPad. The App Store has dozens of apps designed to help you with note taking, and you can get a version of Apples Pages word processor for the iPad as well. Microsoft has not offered an iPad version of Microsoft Office or any of its programs as yet; but apps such as Documents to Go and QuickOffice Pro HD will let you read Word documents and make some changes on your iPad. As far as the note-taking apps go, my favorites of the standard note-taking genre include the Notes program native to the iOS, Remarks, and Notability (all good, solid note-taking apps), Penultimate (simple, easy-to-use note taker), EverNote (Cloud-connected note/reminder system) PDF-Notes, and DOCas (both of which allow you to comment on PDF files).

In addition, you might find outlining apps useful; if so, look at Omni Outliner (my first choice in this genre) or Simple Outliner (an easy to use straightforward outlining app). Deponent allows you to set up an outline for deposition interrogation. It works pretty well, and nothing stops you from using it to set up your line of questioning at trial. On the other hand, I have found that I work just as well off an outline created in a simple outlining program. To each their own; use what works for you.

You can, of course, always take notes using Apple’s Pages app, or you can access Word documents using one of the Office work-along apps, such as Documents To Go, QuickOffice Pro HD, or Smart Office, all of which let you access and edit Word documents, but none of which give you a full-featured word-processing program. Pages comes the closest to that, but does not have the richness of features found in the Mac version of Pages.

Some of you may like to use mind-mapping software to help plan your presentation or organize your case. If so, you have a number of options to choose from on the iPad. Head Space stands out as one of the best. Others to look at include MindNode, Idea Sketch, and iThoughts HD.

If you want to use or build trial books on your iPad, then you will want to get the iPad version of Circus Ponies’ Notebook and/or Microsoft’s One Note. Both work well; Notebook works better, in my opinion. If you use the Mac, you will definitely want to go with Notebook because the only way you can run OneNote on your Mac is to boot up a Windows system or use the Microsoft cloud version of OneNote. If you use Windows, you might want to opt for OneNote on the iPad, because you cannot run Notebook on Windows. Both programs allow you to organize your materials into a functional trial book and to add full copies of files you wish to incorporate using PDF and other formats. You could actually build evidence books in either of these apps as well; but you have other options for evidence.

Apps designed to handle evidence include Exhibit A and Exhibit View (the top two in my opinion).

If you plan to do presentations from your iPad, once again you find that Microsoft does not offer PowerPoint as an app. You can get a version of Keynote as an app and use that. If you want to use PowerPoint slides, your best option will likely prove to be SlideShark. What may prove the best all-around litigation presentation program for the iPad also proves to be one of the more expensive app acquisitions, TrialPad. The same company that makes Trial Pad also makes a program called Transcript Pad, which, as the name implies, lets you store, review, retrieve, and comment on transcripts for use at trial.

To review documents, I recommend Goodreader, which also lets you organize and comment on documents in PDF format. Goodreader costs only $4.99 and has proven one of my favorite apps. Other apps that let you comment on PDF files that you should consider include iAnnotate PDF and PDF Expert, both of which offer you considerable flexibility and features in dealing with PDF files. Because almost all of my discovery productions these days come in PDF files, I use those programs a lot and like them both, although I have to say that I think PDF Expert may be a touch better than iAnnotate PDF.

Some of the earliest litigation support apps for the iPad addressed the jury selection process. Those apps include iJuror, Jury Tracker, Jury Duty, iJuror, My Voir Dire, Ultimate Juror, and Jury Star.

Court Days gives you a date calculator and the potential of rules-based calendaring; but you have to put your own rules in for the program to do that. That has the disadvantage of requiring a lot of extra setup work and the advantage of letting you add your own items to the list in addition to those imposed by statute or court rules.

If you have Internet access available to you, you might want to consider the possibility of legal research on your iPad. Lexis, West and FastCase each provide apps that allow you to do legal research accessing their database. In addition, you can download apps that provide statutes and rules, which you can access even without an Internet connection. I have apps on my iPad that include the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence, the California Trial Rules, the entire California Codes and the United States Codes. I have not seen codes for every state, but they exist for many states (and not just the most heavily populated). If you want codes for your state, check the iTunes App Store and see if they exist.

LawStack is another app worth looking at. It becomes a minilaw library. It comes preloaded with the F.R.C.P., F.R.E., F.R. Crim. Proc., Fed Rules of Appellate Procedure and Bankruptcy Rules. You can acquire through in-app purchase the C.F.R., and codes for several of the states.

The Folks at Thomson-Reuters also offer ProView, which lets you download, access, read, and comment on a number of legal research tools.

I have not endeavored to identify every app that might prove interesting or useful to a lawyer. I have focused on tools that may help you in your practice, particularly if you do litigation work. If you want to explore a more general treatment of apps for lawyers, take a look at Tom Mighell’s iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers, published by the LPM Section of the ABA.

You can find all of the apps mentioned in this article in the iTunes App Store. You can download them directly to your iPad or to your computer iTunes library prior to synching the iPad. If you choose to download them directly to your iPad, you will probably want to wait until you have a WiFi connection to avoid burning up your cellular data program allocation.

Many of the apps will interface with DropBox, which also works on the iPad. For that reason, you may want to get the DropBox app and, if you don’t already have one, a free DropBox account. If you do coordinate data through DropBox, however, be advised that their terms of service entitle them to access your information to make it easier for them to give you service. That makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I encourage you to exercise care about running unencrypted confidential information through DropBox.

 

The American Bar Association does not endorse products or services of non-ABA entities.

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