Winning ways

Tips for becoming an iPad litigator

By Roberta M. Gubbins
Legal News

Tablet computers, including the iPad, are becoming “must-haves” for lawyers, according to Brett Burney of Burney Consultants at a State Bar of Michigan seminar June 27. The event, titled “Winning Ways, the iPad litigator,” was sponsored by the SBM Practice Management Resource Center and held at Lansing Community College, West Campus.

The iPad, he explained, is used to view media, read documents and search the web. It is not used to create complicated documents; that is best done on a laptop or desktop with a full keyboard and more powerful software. It is, however, ideally suited to the task of reading, which occupies much of a lawyer’s time.

“In fact,” said Burney, “it can replace the stacks of paper that you shuffle everyday.”

While there are several ways to get documents on your iPad, Burney recommends Dropbox as the easiest to use. It is a cloud service that starts with a local folder on a desktop. Dropbox monitors the local file and syncs it with the files on the iPad when they are wirelessly connected.

Once the documents appear on the iPad, they can be annotated using such Annotation Apps as GoodReader ($4.99) or iAnnotate ($9.99). “If I’m just highlighting and underlining text and plan to add a few comments in the margins, I prefer to use GoodReader,” he said. iAnnotate offers “more serious annotation capabilities.”
Burney mentioned TranscriptPad ($49.99), which he considers a “professional grade application.” It can take the raw transcript text and break it down into page and line numbers enabling the lawyer “to highlight passages and assign issue codes.” Once the issue codes are assigned, it is possible to generate a “Detailed” or “Summary” report. The detailed report contains the page and line information and the actual text of the designations. The summary report only contains the page and lines of what has been designated. Both reports can be sent by e-mail.

The app has other tools such as a “hands-free” mode, which automatically scrolls text at a pre-determined speed to avoid having to tap the screen to turn pages. Transcript questions are displayed in bold with the answers in a normal font. The search function of TranscriptPad allows the lawyer to search a single transcript or across multiple transcripts at the same time.

When it comes to jury selection during trial, there are three Apps that Burney suggests:

• JuryStar ($39.99) a basic tool for entering names and some backup information for each juror. It also allows the lawyer to keep track of the questions asked.

• iJuror ($9.99) accepts multiple notes about each juror along with an “avatar” for each juror showing gender and nationality

• JuryTracker ($4.99) allows basic notes about each juror and can help track the emotions, actions and body language of the jurors throughout the trial.

Turning to legal research, Burney noted that the research apps available for the iPad include Westlaw Next, Lexis Advanced and Fastcase. Both Westlaw and Lexis provide a free app, however, it is necessary to have a subscription to access their research tools; the amount of information and services available depends on the terms of the subscription. Fastcase is free and there is no subscription service needed.

Fastcase free service is “pretty amazing” and it is “worth having on every iPad being used by a lawyer,’ he said.

The State Bar of Michigan provides free legal research for its members using Casemaker. Casemaker doesn’t have an app specifically designed for iPad, however, the service works well with the iPad browser. It provides multi-state and federal research along with Federal and State Court Rules.

For lawyers wishing to “brandish” their iPad in the courtroom with electronic eloquence, the three trial presentation apps that Burney mentioned were Exhibit A from Lecture, TrialPad from Lit Software and Exhibit View iPad from ExhibitView Solutions.

All three handle images, have the ability to pinch-zoom a document, allow highlighting critical text and it is possible to save “snapshots” of documents once they’ve been saved.

Brett Burney of Burney Consultants provides professional consulting services to corporate executives and legal professionals. Burney is a featured speaker at numerous legal technology conferences including the ABA TECHSHOW, LegalTech and ILTA. Blog:

For those wishing to “Tour the iPad from Basics and Beyond” with Tech Guru Brett Burney, it is possible to purchase the video at the State Bar of Michigan Store for $75.00.


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