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Why the iPad is the Best Tablet for Litigators
Most lawyers who listen to The Digital Edge are already aware of many benefits of tablet use in the courtroom. There are apps for note taking, document review, legal research, and, of course, trial presentation. But this is just the beginning! Having a tablet opens up many avenues of convenience for litigators, trial prep and during trial. Why is the iPad preferable to a Windows Surface or Android tablet?
In this episode of The Digital Edge, Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway interview The Kennedy-Mighell Report host Tom Mighell, lawyer and author of “iPad in One Hour for Litigators,” about why the iPad is the best tablet for litigators and how to best use the tools and applications available on the iPad. Mighell makes many suggestions about which apps are most useful for litigation, including apps for note taking, case intake, document transfer, discovery, legal research, and trial presentation. In addition, he recommends accessories for data input (handwriting or keyboard) and data output (evidence presentations or a printer). Most importantly, he emphasizes, lawyers should never assume they know how to use an app just because they downloaded it. Make sure you practice using every application before you enter the courtroom.
Tom Mighell is a vice president and consultant at Contoural, where he helps companies develop defensible information governance and litigation readiness programs. He is the author of a number of books on the iPad, including “iPad in One Hour for Lawyers”, “iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers”, and “iPad in One Hour for Litigators”, which is now in its second edition. Mighell is co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast The Kennedy-Mighell Report with Dennis Kennedy.
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The Digital Edge: Why the iPad is the Best Tablet for Litigators – 4/22/2015
Advertiser: Welcome to The Digital Edge with Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway. Your hosts, both legal technologists, authors and lecturers, invite industry professionals to discuss a new topic related to lawyers and technology. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome to the 87th edition of The Digital Edge, lawyers and technology. We’re glad to have you with us. I’m Sharon Nelson, president of Sensei Enterprises.
Jim Calloway: And I’m Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Associations management assistance program. Today our topic is the iPad for litigators. We are happy to welcome our friend, Tom Mighell today. Tom Mighell is a vice president and consultant at Contoural, where he helps companies develop defensible information governance and litigation readiness programs. He is the author of a number of books on the iPad for the American Bar Association, including “iPad in One Hour for Lawyers”, “iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers”, and “iPad in One Hour for Litigators”, which is now in its second edition. Thanks for joining us today, Tom.
Tom Mighell: Thank you very much, Sharon and Jim, glad to be here. I always enjoy coming on your podcast.
Sharon D. Nelson: We enjoy having you, Tom. And the first thing I want to ask you is why the iPad for litigators? Can’t lawyers be just as successful at trial with a Windows Surface or an Android Tablet? Why the iPad?
Tom Mighell: Since I started talking 5 years ago, I originally started talking about how it was the best option for the lawyer who wanted to be mobile, though I think we all have come to an agreement that it’s not going to completely replace a laptop or desktop, it’s a good supplement for that. We were at ABA Techshow a couple of years ago and we did a session called Tablet Wars, where there was one of us each on the iPad, and an Android tablet, and a Windows tablet, which I think was before the Surface. And the other Android and Windows people were talking about how you can get just as much done on the version of their tablets as you could on the iPad. And I agreed with that completely until it comes to litigation. And the reason is that I think that the iPad has helped level the playing field for trial lawyers who don’t have the resources to hire a trial technology team or they don’t have an assistant who is smart enough or who is well-versed enough on the technology to come in and do things for them in the courtroom. What makes the iPad different and why the iPad, I think, is the best mobile tool for litigators, is that the tools available for it – specifically in the areas of evidence presentation – are just easy enough that you can try a case in the courtroom with an iPad without distracting yourself from actually representing your client and trying the case. You can’t bring an Android tablet in because they don’t have the evidence presentation tools that really the iPad excel in. If you brought a Windows Surface tablet in, you could bring that in, there’s evidence presentation tools for that, but there are the same tools you would find on your laptop. Sanction, Trial Director, and I would never recommend that a lawyer use them by themselves because it’s hard to operate those programs. They’re complicated, they’re very powerful, and you need, at a minimum, an assistant or an associate working on them and not yourself. And that’s why, for me, there’s really only one tool if you want to be mobile in the courtroom, and it has to be an iPad.
Jim Calloway: Can you use an iPad, Tom, for the entire lifespan of a lawsuit?
Tom Mighell: Yes, absolutely you can, and it depends, though, on how you try a case and what types of information that you need to get. But I’ve been able to find apps and workflows that the minute a new client walks in the door, or an existing client calls you and says I have a new case for you, you can go through just about every stage of a piece of litigation using an iPad. Sometimes you might want to use a laptop obviously to do some things, but if you needed to, you could go all the way from case intake all the way to a jury verdict just using an iPad. Some of the apps in some of these areas – and I know we’re going to talk about those in a little bit more detail as we go along – some apps are leaner than others, or there’s less choice. And there may be some that I’m not going to recommend in some areas, but if you want to, it’s certainly possible, which I think makes using the iPad for litigation really interesting and compelling.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well to quote from Alice in Wonderland, let us begin from the beginning. And tell us, Tom, how lawyers can use the iPad at the start of a new case.
Tom Mighell: When a new client comes in or a client calls, there are a couple of things that I think about it. When I was practicing law, the first thing I would think about is I need to get as much information down that I can about this new case. That generally winds up being just a good note-taking app. And the iPad is certainly no stranger, and it has no lack of successful note-taking apps. If you like to and prefer to handwrite, my favorite apps are Noteshelf and Notability, are still my two most favorite handwriting apps for the iPad. I like Noteshelf because it’s easy, it has just the right amount of features. That’s going to be a theme of mine when we talk here, is that I kind of introduce apps that i have “goldilocks” apps, they have just the right amount of features, not too much or too few. Notability is great also, but I like that because you can take audio notes with that. Those are two of my favorites, but literally there are dozens of note-taking apps in the App store. IF you prefer to type or take notes in a different way, other options for you would be something like Evernote. Evernote is a great note-taking app, but frankly, one of my favorite note-taking apps these days because I’m actually a better typist than I am a writer, is OneNote. I really like using OneNote for taking notes because you can create a notebook that has tabs for depositions, tabs for meetings with the client, tabs for evidence and things you want to include. And so it’s a really powerful tool. It’s free on the iPad and it’s really a nice, interesting tool for note taking. One other area that I think is kind of compelling that you might think about in case intake is an app called FormConnect. If you tend to do a lot of data entry and you might be doing case intake on a lot of the same or similar kinds of cases, FormConnect allows you to create your own data entry form. So you can have a checkbox for is this a new client, you can add a date range in, you can add a text box in to give a description. You can have a place for a signature where a client can sign an intake form. And you can then export all of that out onto a spreadsheet, or another format where it can be useful to you in other places. And I’ve seen lawyers use this tool to do case intake because they’re doing a lot of data entry and they want a way to customize that form. And there’s a way to do it on the iPad. So those are just a few examples of what I would do if a new case walked in the door today.
Jim Calloway: One of the questions you probably hear a lot is how do I get documents on the iPad to begin with. How do you respond to that question, Tom?
Tom Mighell: That answer to that I think has changed over the past few years. When we first got the iPad, there were really only a couple of answers to that. The main one was either email the document to yourself, which is, to me, very unsatisfying because you’re having to then go and open up each one of those one at a time and moving it into the particular app that you want to use it in. You can open up file sharing through iTunes, but I’ll be honest. I’m interested to know what lawyers actually use iTunes with their iPad. I haven’t actually connected my iPad to my computer in a long time, I do it wirelessly, so that’s not the best. I really recommend using some type of Cloud tool like DropBox, or Box, or the Transporter, but some tool that you can use, just as a transfer medium. You may not decide you want to use that as a storage facility, but just using it to transfer information to and from your iPad I think is really convenient. And I talk about DropBox a lot because it’s common, because it’s built into most of the apps worth having on the iPad. But you’re starting to see integration with Microsoft’s OneDrive, with Box. I know that some are also integrating interestingly with the file transporter which I think is great. And that makes it very simple for you to take documents that you’ve already got on your computer, on your desk or on your laptop, move them into a folder and then open them up and store them in whatever app or format that you want. Although I recommend downloading the DropBox app to your iPad, I actually use it very little on my iPad because most of the apps where I’m looking at documents already have a link to DropBox in it, so I can open it automatically. And if I didn’t say it before, what makes it really convenient is that you can download to your iPad a whole folder or folders of documents where the other options are just too cumbersome.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well just as an aside to something you said there, Tom, I know DropBox kind of owned the beachhead, they kind of got there first and lawyers really glommed onto it and the vendors started producing integration with DropBox first. But i know that Box is increasingly popular. And Box, unlike DropBox, is now moving and will be shortly – in a couple of months – it will be a zero knowledge file syncing service, which is to say that like SpiderOak, which hasn’t achieved that degree of popularity, it will give the user the master decryption key and it will not hold it. So your data is even safer because even if law enforcement were to come there, they would be unable to turn anything but encrypted data. So that’s just an interesting side point. But I know that a lot of my colleagues tell me that the iPad is terrific for reviewing documents and discovery, which is not something that I do. WHat are some of the ways that lawyers can use the iPad during the discovery process?
Tom Mighell: First of all, to come back, I think your side point is great and I agree with you because I’m sad that DropBox is not using the advances that other tools are using. It knows the issues, it knows the complaints and the problems and the issues with security that we all talk about. I’m disappointed that that’s not happening either as fast as it should be or at all. I’m encouraged by Box. I wish Box was available in more apps, but I think that’s changing, I think you’re right about that. But using tools like that are, for the primary purpose, of doing discovery. Of reviewing the documents that you either get from your client, that you get from the other side, that you might get from third parties. And from a certain extent it depends on what you want to do with these documents. If you just want to read and review them, I recommend using a tool like GoodReader. GoodReader I think is one of the first apps any lawyer should have. In fact, I hope that everybody listening to this already has GoodReader on there, it allows you to organize your files in folder structure that makes sense for how you’re probably used to working on a computer with folders. And then it also has a reader function, thus, GoodReader, that you can basically review any kind of document that you want. It will let you look at Word files and Excel spreadsheets and PDF documents. If you want to annotate a file, you need it to be in PDF. It has to be in PDF format to actually draw on it or make notes or highlight things. GoodReader handles PDF annotation really well. I also really like PDF Expert for that. Again, it kind of meets my goldilocks threshold of having not too many features but just the right features that lawyers would need to be able to review and highlight and markup and comment on PDF files. Then, switching to the other part of the discovery process, once you’ve got your documents, it’s time to start taking depositions. One of the things that I really like and the apps that I think is crucial that most lawyers should have – if they’re taking depositions – is TranscriptPad. TranscriptPad allows you to review and annotate depositions. You can flag them for issue codes, you can put notes on them, and then once you’re done annotating it, you can export those annotations out to opposing counsel, to your client; you can even export it into tools like Sanction or TrialDirector if you happen to use those tools on a regular basis. So TranscriptPad is a great, great, tool and probably my favorite tool for deposition review. Those are sort of the main high-level things for if you’re going to review documents or depositions on the iPad. I think that covers the high points.
Jim Calloway: Tom, we’ve all been around long enough that we recall when the idea of having a legal research tool directly in the courtroom was a fantasy and now it’s a reality for many lawyers. So what about legal research? Do lawyers still need to take real books and case law in the courtroom or can the iPad help there too?
Tom Mighell: That was one of the things that I hated the most about going to trial as a lawyer was having to bring a whole trial box full of the statutes and the rulebooks and maybe copies of case law and things like that. And the iPad has eliminated a lot of that to some extent. To the extent that you’re comfortable with it, to the extent that the judge will accept it. There’s no question that an iPad will be helpful in terms of doing case law research. If you are a West or a Lexus subscriber, there are companion apps for both WestlawNext and Lexus Advanced that do a great job. They are identical to the services you would get, essentially, on the web. Even if you do have those services, I still recommend downloading the Fastcase app. It’s a free app, it gets you access to free case law. Obviously, if you are a subscriber or your state is a Fastcase member and you get that tool as a member benefit, you’ll get more features, the ability to do more things. It’s also a good tool. There are also – probably for most of you out there – rulebooks and statute book apps for the iPad for your state. I’m not going to mention any of them because the problem is that there are a number of big names that cover about ten to fifteen states. The states that probably have the most case law: New York, California, Texas, some of the others, Illinois, they’re going to have those states. And some states have no case law or code or rulebook apps, but if you go into the App store and you just type in the name of your state and “legal,” or “laws,” or “rules,” you’ll probably get a listing of all of the different apps that would work for your state listed for you.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well thanks, Tom. let’s pause now for a commercial break, and then we’ll be right back.
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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to The Digital Edge on The Legal Talk Network. Today, our subject is the iPad for lawyers, and our guest is Tom Mighell, who is a vice president and consultant at Contoural where he helps companies develop defensible information governance and litigation readiness programs. Tom, when you’re in court, you’re obviously going to need more than just the iPad itself to get things going. What are some of the accessories that you recommend lawyers bring with them to trial?
Tom Mighell: So I think it falls into two different categories of accessories that you’re going to need. The first is data input. Are you a writer or a typer? If you prefer to write, you want to make sure you have a stylus or a number of styli. I’ve seen recommendations that say go on Amazon and buy a package of ten because they’re easy to lose. If you are a typist, if you prefer to type, make sure that you have a portable keyboard that you bring with you because there’s nothing worse than trying to type on that virtual screen for long periods of time on documents or if you want to take a lot of notes, I really recommend having a keyboard instead. The other area that you want to make sure is on data output. How do I get stuff out of the iPad in case people need to view things. How do I present evidence, what if I need to print a document? You may want to bring a portable printer with you that is either airprint compatible or works with an app that’s a printing app. If you’re going to present evidence, you’re going to have a number of different options that you need to consider to make sure you have the right accessories. You might decide you want to present wirelessly using Apple TV. There are software tools that can help mirror your iPad to a projector screen. If you’re going to connect directly to a projector, you’re going to need some kind of adapter to connect to the projector, whether it’s a high definition adapter, or a VGA adapter. Apple store has all of these tools, but it’s best to make sure that you are prepared and so you figure out ahead of time what kind of tools your courtroom has so that you have the right tools when you get there and you’re not left without anything to present evidence with.
Sharon D. Nelson: I’ll just add, Tom, one of the things we noticed very recently. We were luxuring over in the DC Superior Court, and they actually had HDMI adapters there. But if you were used to that in DC and you come over to Virginia expecting that you’re going to have those, you’re not. So you really need to know the individual courts and what they provide.
Tom Mighell: That’s right.
Jim Calloway: Tom, an essential skill for trial lawyers is jury selection. Does the iPad have apps to help with jury selection?
Tom Mighell: The iPad has apps to help with jury selection, but I don’t know that I’m going to necessarily recommend them. If you read the book, the book talks about them. I like them, they solve a problem that I really wanted to solve, which is when I was picking a jury, I would just draw lines on my legal pad and fill in information on a grid. And these apps make it easy to keep the jurors organized, to have specific questions you want to ask. Some of the apps actually let you rank the jurors based on the answers to their questions, so you have a weighted list of your jurors once you’re done. The problem is data entry. When I was picking juries, sometimes I wouldn’t get the list of the jurors until 15 minutes before they walked into the room, which is not enough time to enter that information into these apps. So I think they really only work best if you have a lot of time. If you have a couple of days or a day ahead of time where you or an assistant can actually put that information in in their name, all their demographic information. Because if that’s not in ahead of time, it’s really a waste of time. So while I think they’re great ideas and I like them, they really depend on a specific process for you to follow for them to be successful in doing jury selection for an iPad.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well probably the most important part of the trial is the presentation of evidence, and certainly we’ve seen that the iPad has a couple of great ways to do that. So what evidence presentation tools do you recommend for lawyers, Tom?
Tom Mighell: Again, sounds like it’s becoming a theme, I kind of have two different categories of presentation tools. And the way that I think of presenting at trial is that when you are doing an opening and closing statement, you need that presentation essentially to be fixed. More so for the opening, probably less so for closing. But to a certain extent, that needs to be set in stone. You’re probably going to rehearse it, you’re probably going to have it, it’s not something that you’re going to want to change on the fly. And for that reason, the tool that I recommend, really, is just a good presentation tool like Powerpoint or Keynote. For a while, Keynote was the premier tool for the iPad. If you are not used to using Keynote, if you live in a Microsoft Office world, Powerpoint for iPad is a great tool. It has just enough features for you to use and it has a presentation mode that you can enter into. It’s really a nice presentation tool for those types of presentations. However, when you’re presenting evidence, I think you want to have the ability to be more flexible. If you were in bigger litigation, if you had trial technologists coming, they would be using tools like Sanction or TrialDirector to be able to do some really powerful manipulation of the evidence to annotate it, to synchronize your depositions with a deposition video, to do certain things like that. There aren’t tools that are quite that powerful for the iPad, but that’s part of what makes it okay, because you don’t want something that powerful if you’re going to have to focus on trying a case at the same time. My favorite tool for this is TrialPad. TrialPad is from the same people who made TranscriptPad. TrialPad is probably the most powerful presentation tool that’s out there. You can load in any kind of file, although PDFs work best. You can load in movies and audio and show those to people. You can draw on the exhibits, you can blow them up so people can see and you can zoom in on things. It’s a very powerful app for presenting evidence and getting it across to a jury. There are other tools out there that are cheaper, I will say TrialPad’s a little expensive, for an iPad app, it’s $90. I think it’s worth it, I think it’s worth it to have the best one out there. There are some out there that are much cheaper that don’t have the same features as TrialPad. So you can decide what makes the most sense for you, if you’d rather forego some of the features for a less cost, I really think it makes sense to get TrialPad. You’re still paying much less than a license of Sanction or TrialDirector, which can run to $500 to $600 per license.
Jim Calloway: Tom, we mentioned in your introduction that the “iPad in One Hour for Litigators” is now out in its second edition. Where can our listeners pick up the book?
Tom Mighell: The best place to get it right now is at the ABA website. So if you go to either shopaba.org or ababooks.org, that’ll get you to the same place. Just do a search for Tom Mighell “iPad in One Hour for Litigators” and I think you’ll have an option there of getting either a paper copy or the digital book. I think it should be available shortly in the iBookstore, but not sure about that. And then at some point in time, it will also be available in Amazon, but I don’t think it’s quite to Amazon yet, but it should be soon. Those of you who are coming to ABA Techshow, if you’re coming, seek me out and if you buy a book, I’ll give you an autograph on the book because it’ll be available at the ABA law practice book store onsite at ABA Techshow.
Jim Calloway: And they also might have book bugs to buy your book a little cheaper.
Tom Mighell: That’s exactly right, yep.
Jim Calloway: In your book you have a chapter where trial lawyers give their best advice on how to best make use of the iPad in the courtroom. What are some of your favorite tips that these lawyers offered you?
Tom Mighell: The two tips that are my favorite are really common sense tips. One is practice, practice, practice. Don’t assume that you know how to use an app, especially with an evidence presentation tool. Make sure you understand how it works, make sure you understand how you’re going to use it. There’s really nothing worse in trial than trying to use technology and failing miserably for either the judge or the jury. They try not to hold you personally responsible but sometimes that’s just so hard if you don’t know how to use it. So first advice is practice, second one is resist the urge to update an app the day before you go to trial. And this hasn’t happened in trial for me, but I’ve seen where I’ve updated an app the day before I gave a speech and then I wanted to show somebody the features of that app, and suddenly things were in the wrong place, they were missing, there were new features, I didn’t recognize what I was looking at. That would be a very bad feeling if you discover that for the first time in front of a jury. So resist the urge, update after trial and enjoy the new updated app at that point in time. Those are I think the two best tips that I would have.
Sharon D. Nelson: Yeah, those are really excellent tips, Tom. Your book is wonderful and I want to tell you last week I gave myself a 5 minute break over a cup of tea to start reading it. And a half an hour later, my tea was cold and I was still reading the book which is a testament to what a fine author you are and how much you write so cleanly and so accessibly, so I certainly enjoyed it a whole lot. We want to thank you, Jim and I, very much today for being with us and sharing your expertise on this for lawyers. It’s a terrific book and thanks for joining us.
Tom Mighell: I appreciate you having me on the call. You are so gracious to having me come talk about the book. I will come back and talk about anything you want to talk about sometime.
Sharon D. Nelson: Sounds good to me.
Sharon D. Nelson: And that does it for this edition of The Digital Edge, lawyers and technology; and remember, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at LegalTalkNetwork.com, or on iTunes. And if you enjoyed our podcast, please rate us on iTunes.
Jim Calloway: Thanks for joining us. Goodbye Ms. Sharon.
Sharon D. Nelson: Happy trails, cowboy.
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