Is the iPad 2 a trial lawyer's best friend?

By Sylvia Hsieh

The Daily Record Newswire

Could the iPad 2 be a trial lawyer's best friend?

"A lot more lawyers are using the iPad on the trial side and, more generally, for presentations, whether in trial or at a CLE or at a board meeting," said Brett Burney, founder of the legal technology consulting firm Burney Consulting in Cleveland, who blogs at Macs in Law.

Some of the features that make the iPad 2 better than the original are slimmer and lighter specs that make it feel like you're carrying only a yellow pad. The device shed a few ounces and half an inch in thickness, now weighing 1.3 pounds and measuring 0.35 inches.

The faster 1.2GHz processor in combination with the latest iOS 4.3 software improves the response time from the original iPad. That slight bump-up in speed, for example, eliminates the lag time when marking up PDF documents with a stylus, said Jeffrey Richardson, an attorney at Adams & Reese in New Orleans, who blogs at iPhone J.D.

Another hardware upgrade allows all applications to be projected onto an external screen, whether it's a document or an e-mail or a full presentation. In the past, this was only possible with certain apps like Keynote or iAnnotate.

But some lawyers who snatched up the first generation iPad say the original is still enough for most legal needs.

"For a lawyer, unless you're doing video conferencing, I don't really think it's beneficial to upgrade. ... The [first generation] iPad is sufficient for what I use it for - research, writing and browsing the Internet," said Daniel Friedlander, an attorney at Jackson DeMarco Tidus & Peckenpaugh in Westlake Village, Calif.

The projector capabilities are nice, but many lawyers simply pass around their iPads to share information with a client, colleague or opposing counsel.

One benefit of either version is access to legal research on the fly, which has revolutionized motion and trial practice.

"If you're in court and the other side brings up a case you've never heard of, [by] using WiFi or a 3G connection and the Fastcase or WestlawNext app, you're able to get in there and look up the case and keycite it or shepardize it and argue against it. Having something like that is so incredibly helpful," said Burney.

Another new use for the iPad is signature capabilities, which many lawyers are using to sign up new clients.

"In the past, if you wanted to sign up a new client, you had to print out a document, sign it, send it back to your assistant and get it scanned and processed. I see a lot of attorneys using apps like SignMyPad and PDF Expert and getting the client to sign right there," Burney said.

The regular version is $4, but SignMyPad has a professional version for $100 that embeds a signature with a date and time stamp and GPS coordinates.

"From the legal profession's standpoint, digital signatures sometime need to be authenticated. It highlights yet another evolution of how the iPad is being used for professions like ours," Burney said.

Published: Mon, Dec 5, 2011

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