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Once you unwrap your new iPad, master the most critical tap-and-swipe moves, and buy a few apps and iBooks, you’re pretty much set. It really is that easy. So easy that you may find you neglect any further exploration of iPad features in favor of, say, reading the entire Jack Reacher series. You’d be highly entertained, but you’d also miss out on all the ways to use an iPad in your law practice.
“The iPad,” says Brett Burney of Macs in Law, “allows you to view and edit documents, check email, surf the web, read books, annotate PDFs, take notes, dictate letters and much, much more.” In November, Burney led the Chicago Bar Association’s “BYOD: iPad” seminar, providing a quick three-hour tour of iPad features and nifty pointers for lawyers. So if there’s a new iPad in your hands, or perhaps an upgraded tablet on your holiday shopping list, check these Friday Five tips.
1. Get better acquainted. Burney’s basic tour included a few great ways to make your iPad your own.
2. The apps. It seems that everybody has a list of top apps these days (guilty!), and Burney has a list of 10 he believes should be on any lawyer’s iPad: GoodReader, PDF Expert, Documents To Go Premium, Evernote, Noteshelf, Atomic Browser, LogMeIn, Lawstack, Keynote for presentations and TrialPad.
3. Transferring files in and out of there. The iPad is great for reading and editing and annotating. But what’s the best way to get documents in and out of there? The official Apple method is via iTunes (the same way we first transferred music to iPods). Connect your iPad to your computer with the USB cable, launch iTunes, select Apps, and then select iPad to see all of your apps. Scroll down, and you should see a File Sharing section, along with a list of all the apps you own that are capable of transferring documents. Select any of those apps, GoodReader, for example, and your documents will show up on the right-hand side. Use the Add or Save to buttons to transfer documents between your PC and iPad.
Or, you could just email a document to yourself and use the “Open In” option to open email attachments in the app of your choice. Within an email message, tap and hold the attachment icon until you see the “Open In” menu. You can opt to open it in the default Quick Look viewer (fine for a quick read), in iBooks, or in an app like GoodReader. For larger documents, there are the cloud-sharing sites like Dropbox. Dropbox is popular for file storage and transferring because it works with most apps, and will automatically sync to all of your other computers (meaning you can annotate a document on your iPad and have the updated version at hand once you get back to your office or home PC).
4. Pointing fingers. The iPad screen was designed for the touch of your finger pad, not writing “implements.” But try using your finger with any note-taking app and you’ll see that writing with your finger looks just like … finger painting. To more closely mimic writing with a pen on a legal pad when using a note-taking app like Noteshelf, you need a good stylus, says Burney. A stylus is also handy for highlighting text and annotating documents. Burney likes the Wacom Bamboo Stylus because the stylus’s rubber nib is smaller than most others, and it’s well-balanced and feels most like a regular pen. Don’t opt for the cheapest stylus, he warns, because it will wear out quickly.
5. Security settings. You password-protect your iPad, right? (Yeah. Thought so.) Burney stresses that it is inevitable—you are going to lose your iPad. So think about your responsibility to your clients and set up a passcode and an auto-lock. How? Go to Settings, General, Passcode Lock and enter either a four-digit simple passcode (please don’t choose 1234 or 5678!) or a stronger alphanumeric code. While you’re in the Passcode Lock menu, turn on the option to erase data after 10 failed passcode attempts. (Yes, do it.) Next, set Auto-Lock to two to four minutes. (That menu is also under the General tab.) At four characters, of course, using a simple passcode is not the best security. But if a snoop walks past a couple of iPads and one is locked and the other is not … whose security gets breached fastest?
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