A while back, I authored an article entitled “Top 10 iPad Trial Lawyer Apps” that was quite popular for criminal lawyers and litigators like myself who rely on technology to enhance their practice and their skills of persuasion in a courtroom. In the process of updating our website, that post was lost so I am rewriting it with a list of what I feel to be the best 10 iPad apps for litigators. The list is not exhaustive as there are many wonderful apps available for download. Below those apps that I have come to depend on over the past couple of years.
Top 10 iPad Trial Lawyer Apps:
1. Dropbox (Free, or additional storage available for purchase)
It is hard to imagine our firm’s practice without the use of Dropbox since we transitioned. The Dropbox app brings the full power of the service at your fingertips so that one can access any files you place on your Dropbox account. Having the ability to access any file, piece of evidence, or a scanned document for immediate review is invaluable. Dropbox also allows the user to send a secure link to another email account. Dropbox is generous with their allocated space for free users (2GB); however, integrating to Dropbox Pro (100-500GB) or Dropbox for Teams (1TB shared) allows the entire firm to share the space collectively and provides a more efficient and secure use of the service. If there was one thing our firm could not live without, it’s Dropbox.
2. IAnnotate ($9.99)
iAnnotate is a PDF viewer capable of annotating with typed text, hand written notes, highlighting, bookmarks, as well as print, share, and easily navigate throughout the document. I particularly like the layout of iAnnotate for litigation as it places PDFs in a tabbed format as one might have in a binder. This allows the user to quickly cycle through multiple documents like transcripts, previous statements, notes, and cross-examinations without having to fumble though thousands of pages and briefs. iAnnotate is the application I use for all of my serious cross-examinations were multiple statements are at play with multiple reference points of impeachment to cycle through. For those users that sign up for a free account with iAnnotate, it also allows for viewing of other Office documents not in PDF format. The best part: it integrates and syncs with Dropbox (see above) so any notations made on this application are in turned uploaded back to the dropbox working folder.
3. GoodReader ($4.99)
Similar to the features of iAnnotate, GoodReader is also versatile document viewer that is capable of opening almost document that may be sent your way. As a litigator, we often deal with a wide range of document formats and the need to access and view documents immediately for review and integration. Having GoodReader on my iPad makes me feel comfortable that no matter what is sent my way, I will be able to view it. GoodReader also integrates with Dropbox and allows for seamless integration if one uses the multiple features GoodReader offers to annotate and note up documents.
4. GoodNotes ($4.99)
Good notes is an intuitive and powerful note taking app that allows the user to take notes as if they were writing on paper. The zoomed in window while writing and automatic scrolling is well designed and precise. A good stylus is required to experience the full potential and precision of the program and the abilities of the iPad in leaving paper altogether – I recommend the Adonit Jot line of stylus’ [styli?] that is carried by Staples. Like most great apps listed here, GoodNotes is also capable of integrating with Dropbox and other cloud programs. I will typically use this program to take quick notes in chamber meetings with judges, or quick discussions with prosecutors. The notes come up quickly and are ready so you never miss a notation when it matters.
5. Pages ($9.99)
Designed by Apple, Pages is meant for an iPad. This simple yet powerful word processing application is a great substitute for more powerful office suites. Personally, I prefer my laptop when I know there is going to be extensive note taking. However, with the use of many great third-party keyboards, I am often asked why I bother with a heavier computer. I have seen many of my colleagues move to the iPad and leave the laptop at home altogether. Pages is one of the programs that makes that possible.
6. Twitter (Free)
If you aren’t familiar with Twitter, it’s time to figure it out and sign up if you are serious about business development and client acquisitions. Twitter is an astonishing mechanism for creating professional relationships, direct marketing, and long term branding of your law practice. If @BarackObama thinks it is worthwhile for a tool in being elected as the President of the United States, chances are it could offer something for your business as well. Beyond business, Twitter allows the litigator to stay up to date with recent events, developments in the law, or just a way to pass some time while awaiting your jury verdict. You can follow me @SeanRobichaud.
8. MiniLaw (Free) designed for iPhone but compatible with iPad as well
Although designed for the iPhone, minilaw is an useful little application that integrates with the PCLaw suite allowing the user to docket on the fly and sync back with the office system by exporting dockets and expenses by email. The syncing function also imports all your matters from PCLaw so that you can easily attribute work back to each client or matter. For litigators who are on the go and find it difficult to keep detailed dockets without the benefit of sitting in front of a computer screen all day, minilaw ensures that no docket is missed. The best part: it’s free.
9. Google Earth
Although not an app designed for litigators per se, Google Earth has allowed for a “wow” effect before a jury on many occasions. The fly-by between points of interest marked in advance, or the street view is a powerful tool of persuasion placing the judge or jury at the scene of the crime or accident. Even when not being used for presentation, one can quickly look up addresses being references in the evidence and take a quick view of the area. Like real estate agents say: location, location, location. If you need to see an area quickly, no matter where it is in the world, Google Earth will take you there quickly and for much less than the cost of airfare.
What would my blog be without a Canadian elements to it. Canadian Lawyer Magazine for iPad keeps you updated on developments in the law, as well as providing interesting articles on practice management, marketing, lawyer profiles, and resources. Another great way to spend some time while communting on a train, sitting in a courtroom awaiting your matter to be called, or simply relaxing.
- Sean Robichaud