The legal industry can often be slow to keep up with the latest technology. Thus, it is incumbent on attorneys to stay ahead of emerging technologies to improve their practices. Today, there are many portable devices on the market, such as the iPad, that can be effective tools for busy litigators and that give litigators an edge in trial and motion practice, communicating with clients, and managing caseloads. There are also hundreds of applications (apps) for these devices that provide shortcuts for what used to be tedious, time-consuming tasks. Becoming proficient with these apps will allow the busy litigator to continue managing pleadings, communicating with clients, conducting case intake, and timekeeping while remaining on the go. Adopting portable devices in everyday practice allows litigators to act faster and pass those savings immediately on to their clients. Here are five ways the iPad, in particular, can make you a more nimble and efficient lawyer:
Real Time Communication and Research
During trial, lawyers can silently communicate with co-counsel and office-based team members using a messenger app. This allows the trial attorney to receive real time observations on juror reactions, urgent legal research, and quick answers to upcoming issues while at the podium. Courtroom based team members can conduct instant research on legal issues, using the Westlaw and LexisNexis iPad apps that provide direct access to their subscription services.
Associates can also quickly disseminate the names of prospective jurors to the research team and construct a background profile with a simple social media search from the office. Numerous voire dire apps, like iJuror, record important characteristics on jurors, functioning to replace messy sticky notes and handwritten charts. An iPad can also be the ultimate trial presentation tool; TrialPad is one example of trial presentation apps that allow attorneys to organize, annotate, and present evidence at trial.
Entire Litigation Files Move with You
A cloud software program, such as Dropbox, allows attorneys to take their entire caseload anywhere. When set up for multiple user access, everyone on the trial team will have access to important data and files from any device with an internet connection.
There are also paperless filing, storage, and retrieval apps, like iAnnotate and GoodReader, that act as a replacement for cumbersome pleading boards, allowing attorneys to easily read and mark up electronic documents while in court. These apps also simplify depositions, allowing witnesses to find, review, and annotate photographs and documents quickly. This is more effective than asking a deponent to draw on a blank piece of paper or search through a massive pile of documents for the relevant page of an exhibit.
Counsel can also take notes on the iPad, by either swiftly typing on an attached keyboard or ‘handwriting’ in a note-taking app with a digital stylus. These notes can be shared in real time, with multiple users quickly typing their observations into the same document at the same time.
Instant Transcripts and Summaries
Dictation apps, like ListNote, will record a voice and turn it into text at the same time. This software provides trial attorneys with instant detailed transcripts, cutting out the notetaking and allowing an attorney to focus on other aspects of the testimony. Similarly, during depositions, a dictation app removes the extra step of having to later turn handwritten notes into typed summaries. Attorneys who master manipulating the text simultaneously may find their client report is completed before leaving the room. Numerous document manager apps, such as ReaddleDocs, also make storing, organizing, and annotating deposition transcripts, videos, exhibits, and attorney notes seamless.
Scan and Print on the Go
Scanning apps, like Genius Scan, take photographs of documents and turn them into PDFs instantly. Using these apps, attorneys in multi-party cases can quickly share just-signed court orders. Also, counsel can retrieve documents during onsite research or discovery exchange without the need for copy machines.
When the hard copy of a document is urgently needed, counsel can send it to the closest FedEx, Staples, or other printing company for immediate printing, which can prove faster than having a paralegal drive an overlooked redweld folder across town.
Work and Bill Anywhere
An iPad is less cumbersome than a laptop, but when paired with a keyboard attachment it can perform all the same functions as a computer and it contains tools for everything an attorney needs at any time, including calendaring, contact lists, and billing software. Timekeeping apps from billing software manufacturers allow attorneys to catch up on billing while waiting in court. Attorneys can show arbitrators videos and presentations, even in technologically bereft conference rooms. Most importantly, with large screen options, cellular data service, and full keyboard capability, lawyers can keep in touch with clients and continue working anywhere at any time.
Portable devices, particularly the iPad, contain limitless functionalities in a slender case and are likely to become your favorite litigation tools. Becoming proficient with the iPad’s many uses can be revolutionary for your practice, so try employing one today to become a faster more effective advocate.
Yelena S. Ferreira is an associate at Bressler, Amery & Ross, PC in Florham Park, New Jersey.