At a recent seminar on using the iPad in law practice, I was asked: “If you were trying a lawsuit on a desert island and could only take three apps with you, what apps would you take?” Interesting question. Ultimately, though, I copped out on the answer. Rather than name just three apps, I described three categories of apps I would want. After all, there are several great apps in each category, and I wouldn’t want any of my fellow Robinson Crusoes to be limited to the three I happen to like the best. So here goes—my apps recommendations for a desert island trial.
Note-taking and Passing
I always wanted to have an electronic legal pad, and the iPad perfectly serves that purpose (though the iPad Mini is probably an even better note-taking device). If you prefer to take handwritten notes, Noteshelf is my app of choice—it’s dead simple to take notes, but the app offers a great number of features, and the ability to export your notes in PDF to Dropbox or Evernote. Some of you may find that your handwriting is worse than your typing; in that case, use a text-entry app like PlainText, iA Writer or Elements. These aren’t fancy apps, but they get the job done—which is giving you a clean white space to take notes during trial.
And if you want to pass notes to your paralegal or co-counsel, throw away the sticky notes and use BT Chat HD, which allows you to send instant messages between iPads or iPhones. It’s better than using the Messages feature, because a message won’t show up on your screen when you’re trying to show an exhibit to a witness.
One of the very best things about having an iPad in court is that you have access to nearly your entire law library, all in a 1.44-pound device. If you are already a West or Lexis subscriber, you must use the WestlawNext or LexisAdvance app. They provide access to all the services of your favorite research provider. If you’re not a subscriber (or even if you are), download the free Fastcase app, which provides free, basic access to state and federal case law.
It’s also important to find an app with the rules and statutes for your relevant jurisdictions. While several apps provide access to rules and statutes, only one of them—AllLaw—provides them for all states. However, some of the other apps have better features, like LawBox, but only provide access to a limited number of jurisdictions. Search the App Store for [Your State] [Statutes or Rules or Law] and you’ll see what’s available to you.
The iPad is truly a revolutionary device for trial lawyers, in that it levels the playing field by enabling lawyers to present evidence at trial by themselves or with limited assistance. In this category, the current champion is TrialPad, which is the strongest evidence presentation app available today. If your firm already uses Trial Director, you will definitely want to use the companion Trial Director iPad app, which makes it easy to transfer cases created in the software tool from desktop to tablet.
So that’s it: With the above apps, you could try a case and be successful—even if you’re on a desert island. Now all you have to worry about is where to find a power outlet.
Tom Mighell is the author of the ABA’s best-selling iPad in One Hour for Lawyers series. A Senior Consultant with Contoural, Inc., he helps companies and in-house counsel with records management and electronic discovery issues. He is a past Chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section and ABA TECHSHOW, and co-presenter of The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast on the Legal Talk Network.