Finding new ways to use the iPad to help try cases

By Sylvia Hsieh
The Daily Record Newswire
 
BOSTON — Trial lawyers keep finding new ways, some expected and others surprising, to use the iPad to settle cases, prepare for litigation and try cases.

The big change is that lawyers have moved from using the iPad purely for content consumption to putting it to work in all aspects of litigation.

James R. Moncus, a personal injury attorney, won a $37.5 million jury verdict using the iPad in a three-day dram shop trial last year.

He co-presented a webinar earlier this year for the ABA Law Practice Management Section called “iPad for Litigators” that sold out, and a replay this month drew a full house.

Driving the constantly more innovative uses of the iPad for trial lawyers is the huge assortment of apps, according to Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program and a co-presenter at the webinar.

“There are many, many apps for the iPad designed just for lawyers. I have no trouble telling lawyers when they ask my opinion, yes, I really think they’re better off with an iPad than with other competing tablets that don’t have apps for lawyers,” said Calloway. Apps that help lawyers take notes and mark-up PDF files include GoodReader, PDF Expert and iAnnotate. Calloway also suggested that lawyers invest in a stylus for $15-$30. He recommends three: Adonit Jot Pro, Kensington Virtuoso and Wacom Bamboo.

Several jury selection and juror-tracking apps like iJuror, JuryStar, and Jury Tracker also make the iPad suitable for trial.

But the real game changer for trial lawyers is TrialPad, an application that is easy to use and at $90 is thousands of dollars less than traditional trial software.

“TrialPad allows you to convert all exhibits to PDFs and display them to the jury,” said Calloway. “If the judge has a concern you can show the judge what you’re about to display first. It gives you the ability to draw on documents, make redactions and save what you’ve done. You can show the jury a page of a contract and use a callout tool to draw a box around a paragraph of an exhibit and — boom! — it blows that up so they can read it. The visual is stunning.”

Last April, Moncus put aside his usual pre-trial routine of handing over all his trial materials to people his firm hires to load, cue up and handle the technical equipment at trial.

Instead, he loaded all the documents onto his iPad on his own.

“I thought it would be neat to be in control of the presentation rather than barking instructions at someone,” said Moncus, an attorney at Hare Wynn Newell & Newton in Birmingham, Ala.

Moncus represented the family of a police officer killed while responding to a dispute at a restaurant between the manager and his wife, who also worked at the restaurant. The manager shot the officer in the parking lot. Moncus sued the restaurant for allowing the manager to serve himself alcohol and get drunk on the job.

It was a high-stakes case, but one without a ton of documents — less than 50. This made it a suitable candidate for using the iPad at trial for two reasons: loading the documents yourself can be time-consuming and fewer documents makes it easier to know where to find each one. (One drawback to using an iPad at trial, he said, is that if there are other lawyers working with you they all must use the iPad, too.)

Using TrialPad, a projector and screen, an adapter and a VGA cord to connect them (a long one so he could move around the courtroom), Moncus conducted the trial from his iPad, showing the jury diagrams of the parking lot where the officer was shot, medical records and depositions.

“Using the iPad to show documents to the jury is so, so much easier than trying to learn how to use a sophisticated program like TrialDirector. … I just put my finger on it and it’s there. It feels like I’m a little bit more in control and it’s more seamless,” said Moncus.

He also used the iPad when questioning witnesses.

“If a witness had a previous statement, I pulled up the statement and could highlight a sentence or blow it up in real time. The jury is seeing it as you’re dragging your finger across the screen,” said Moncus.
The iPad not only helped him win a $37.5 million verdict, it also saved him money.

“Most lawyers don’t have a staff of people [to manage TrialDirector software]. It can cost $1,000-1,500 per day,” he said.

Moncus used the iPad again in a med-mal trial, but less extensively because of the larger number of medical documents in that case.

Two personal injury plaintiffs’ attorneys in Phoenix have also incorporated the iPad into their litigation practice.

James Goodnow and Marc H. Lamber of Fennemore Craig have replaced the written settlement packages they send to opposing counsel with the iPad.

The lawyers film their clients, their expert witnesses and themselves spelling out their case at an in-house studio. They load this onto an iPad, delete all other apps and ship it to opposing counsel.

The lawyers say they have settled several catastrophic injury cases for confidential amounts using demand packages on the iPad.

They say the iPad was a natural extension from the paper, videotape, laptops and CDs that they used to use to present to opposing counsel.

“We used to send a video demand by disc, but sometimes it wouldn’t open because [opposing counsel] wouldn’t have the right software,” said Lamber, chair of the firm’s plaintiffs’ personal injury practice group. “The iPad represents a complete package.”

The practice group also sends an iPad to clients who are catastrophically injured, are hospitalized or have limited ability to communicate with them.
“We call it the red phone communication device,” said Goodnow.

The lawyers load a client’s entire file on the iPad and enable Google Voice, Skype and the video camera.

“They are always able to reach us. That’s a big criticism of lawyers that sometimes we’re just not accessible. When [our clients] have an issue and need help, we are available for them 24/7. It makes a profound difference in their life,” said Lamber.

To address security concerns, the lawyers use a cloud-based service and provide a password for clients to log on to view their files on a secure site.

Dan Friedlander, a business and real estate litigator, used the iPad to do some legal research on the fly in court recently.

During arguments on a motion in limine in an unlawful detainer case, the other side argued Friedlander’s client couldn’t evict its commercial tenant, which was in bankruptcy, and cited a case Friedlander had not read.

Equipped with his iPad, 3G network and WestlawNext app, Friedlander asked to review the case on the spot.

“Basically I said to the judge, ‘I would like to look up this case very quickly.’ I read the case — it was not a long case — and within five minutes I was able to address opposing counsel’s arguments,” said Friedlander of Klein Friedlander in Westlake Village, Calif.

Although he had used his iPad for research many times at home and at work, it was the first time he had done so in court with a judge waiting.

Friedlander, won the motion, and said he envisions using the iPad in a full-blown trial in the right case.