iPad for Lawyers & iPhones

The iPad for lawyers is an incredible tool that can help you get free of your office, and the heaps of paper you have strewn about there (which can’t easily be searched, among other problems).

Here are some key resources for getting the most out of an iPad or iPhone in your law practice, grouped by topic.

Security – These are things you should do to ensure your iPad is secure from harm, theft or privacy intrusion (your data, and your client’s data):

  • Backup your iPad. (link to Apple support site)
  • Set a Passcode lock (link to WikiHow article with pictures)
  • Enable Find My iPad, in case it’s lost or stolen (link to Apple site)
  • 1Password Pro – This is the best way to keep confidential information secure, as well as carry important passwords. And it syncs with Mac and Windows versions of the software.
  • BoxCryptor – an iPad app (free) that works with a desktop program (Mac or PC) to encrypt files that you place in a special DropBox folder. The program creates a special folder (called a “volume) on your computer that you put files you want to keep encrypted. You link that volume/folder to a folder within DropBox. The files are then securely transferable to your iPad via Dropbox, but in an encrypted fashion that requires a password to open. BoxCryptor works with Box.net, Google Drive and most cloud-storage providers.
  • Sookasa – is another encryption service that works with Dropbox, but we haven’t evaluated it. Their website says it’s HIPAA compliant.
  • Transporter device, from Connected Data – is a way to manage the transfer of data between any of your computers, or iOS devices. Jeff Richardson’s website is a sponsor, and he has a great review of how the device works. Basically, if you’re willing to pay a minimum of $300 you can have secure online storage in whatever amount you can stuff onto a laptop hard drive (typically between 250 and 500 GBs). And you move data to your iPad through the device that’s located in your home or office, so no worries about third-party access. Just make sure you have the data backed up offsite.

Key Websites – These are great sites for lawyers who want to learn more about about using the iPad or iPhone (or even Android tablets) in their law practices:

  • iPhoneJD.com – New Orleans attorney Jeff Richardson’s excellent (and ABA award-winning) weblog about all things iPhone and iPad. There’s not much to say about this site, other than if you have an iPhone or iPad then you should visit it regularly.
  • iPad 4 Lawyers – Dallas attorney Tom Mighell’s companion weblog to the various books he’s written about the iPad.
  • MacsinLaw.com – attorney Brett Burney’s weblog on all things related to use of Apple products in the practice of law. Many great tips about using iPads and iPhones here.
  • FutureLawyer.com – Florida lawyer Rick George’s site for information about non-Apple tablets such as the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the Asus Transformer. He also covers Apple related news, but he passionately prefers non-Apple products. Rick also has an email newsletter that will allow you to automatically get the latest posts.
  • MacPowerUsers Podcast – iPad Productivity Kit – Excellent podcast by Katie Floyd (Florida attorney) and David Sparks (California attorney) on how to get things done on an iPad. This is probably the best resource you can check out to learn more about being productive on your iPad.

Helpful Books – The best books for lawyers with iPads include the following:

  • iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, by Tom Mighell (attorney in Dallas). Indispensable for those who just got an iPad, but very useful for any lawyer who’s not totally adept with technology. It walks you through the basic settings and features that make sense for lawyers, and you can easily get everything done in about an hour.
  • iPad at Work, by David Sparks. The author is a lawyer in California who also co-hosts a popular podcast for Mac users. The book is about how to get work done on an iPad, and while it wasn’t written specifically for a legal audience, it easily could have been. Since the author is a practicing lawyer the work he does on his iPad is law-related. This book is “the Bible” for iPad toting lawyers. Some of the information may be out-dated (things change fast in the iOS ecosystem), but no lawyer has a better sense of how to get things done with an iPad than David Sparks.
  • iPad Apps in One Hour, by Tom Mighell. This book is due to be released in December of 2012 and it has a nice review of applications that lawyers would find useful on the iPad.

Best web articles on iPads use for Lawyers

Our recommended law-related apps

  • AppShopper -(FREE) – This is the app to get to find other useful apps, especially law-related apps. Use the search panel and type in “Louisiana law” or “Oklahoma law” or whatever your state is. Especially useful is the feature that lets you create a “wish list” for apps you’d like to buy. If the app goes on sale you’ll be notified.

File Import & Management

  • GoodReader – Jeff says this absolute must-have app for any lawyer using an iPad. You can read Jeff’s in-depth review at his iPhoneJD.com website.
  • DropBox – It’s a service for your computer, and syncs files across multiple devices via cloud storage. But it allows download to the iPad or iPhone (hence, it’s also a way to import files to your iPad/iPhone).
  • SugarSync – Same as DropBox, but has a couple of potential downsides: (1) slightly harder to configure, and (2) not as many apps on the iPad or iPhone connect to SugarSync (e.g. TrialPad or TranscriptPad).

Document Viewing, Editing & Manipulation

  • Adobe Reader (FREE) – Adobe’s free PDF reader now ported over to the iOS platform. You can read Jeff Richardson’s review here.
  • PDF Expert – a must-have iPad app for every lawyer. Useful for organizing, reading and annotating PDF files, including the ability to digitally sign a PDF and then quickly and easily email it out.
  • OfficeHD – Lets you work with Microsoft Office Docs: Word, Excel, Powerpoint. One of the rare apps that lets you insert and edit footnotes in Word docs. Also allows “Tracked Changes” and lets you view, accept, reject changes. But, big downside, as Jeff Richardson points out, is this app crashes a lot. So get in habit of saving a lot, or you’ll lose data created since your last save.
  • QuickOffice Pro – Owned by Google, the app now allows Tracked Changes, and Jeff Richardson says the implementation here is much better than OfficeHD (see above). But, this app doesn’t support footnotes at all (as of 2012-11-29 anyway). The zooming feature is a great thing to have, so this app is good for that.
  • WordPerfect Viewer – $5.99 – a lot of money for an app that only lets you view an unpopular file format. But, that’s the price you pay for living on an increasingly small, dying platform.

Note-Taking Apps

  • GoodNotes – there are lots of note-taking apps. This is the one we prefer, and so do many other attorneys, including Jeff Richardson (read his last review).
  • Notability – allows voice recording at the same time as you write notes with your finger or stylus. Very easy to learn to use, and really basic note-taking system. The voice recorder is often useful. Many lawyers prefer this as their go-to note taking app.

Litigation Apps

  • CourtDays Pro – app lets you set up a case calendar with deadlines ($2.99). The app takes a “trigger event” and then calculates one or more other deadlines based on that trigger event. You simply set up each of your rules once, and then you can use them again and again in the future.
  • DaysFrom – a simpler, cheaper app ($.99) than CourtDays that allows you to quickly calculate, say, 45 days from a specified date. Also allows you to calculate days prior to a date you enter.
  • The Deponent – Attorney and e-discovery expert Josh Gilliland created this app, which lets you create deposition questions keyed to different practice areas. There are default questions, but you can customize them.
  • TranscriptPad ($89.99) – an excellent app for reading and summarizing transcripts on the iPad from the developers of TrialPad. Jeff Richardson wrote an excellent review of TranscriptPad on phonejd.com.
  • Fastcase (Free but requires subscription for some items) – Indispensable for Louisiana attorneys (or any other local bar association that subscribe to Fastcase). Read Jeff’s review of Fastcase.
  • WestlawNext (Free but requires WestlawNext subscription) – We agree this is so far the best online legal research app available for the iPad. Here is Jeff’s review.
  • Lexis Advance & Lexis Advance HD (Free but requires LexisNexis subscription) – Lexis Advance is not quite all the way there yet, but it should improve steadily as it matures. Read Jeff’s review here.
  • FedCtRecords – Access PACER records from your iPhone or iPad. Not a perfect tool, but sometimes useful in a pinch as Jeff Richardson’s review explains.
  • TrialPad ($89.99) – the best way to use your iPad to display documents, movies, and graphics of any kind at trial, or at a mediation. It organizes the stuff you need by case, and lets you control the display in all the ways a lawyer would need. Compared to the desktop versions of programs like Sanction and Trial Director (both of which cost at least $600), TrialPad is inexpensive.
  • iJuror – Helps attorneys gather and organize information about juries. Has been around for awhile and many folks like it. Other say it’s too hard to use an iPad while picking a jury.
  • JuryPad – also helps gather and organize jury information; newer than iJuror.
  • Settlement Numbers App from David Sparks – California attorney, author of iPad at Work, offers his settlement conference spreadsheet.
  • Time Tracking Apps – Jeff Richardson’s compendium of reviews related to the various apps that help you keep track of your time using an iPhone or iPad.

Products & accessories

  • iPad Mini vs. Regular size – Buying choicesThe iPad Mini debuted in late 2012 so it’s still early to tell if it will be suitable for all the things that lawyers do. Jeff Richardson bought both devices and used them extensively, and wound up being surprised that he preferred the smaller size iPad. You should read his review carefully before making your decision, and remember that your preferences may vary.
  • Bluetooth Keyboards (a comparison matrix of two most popular choices) – Having the ability to type on a real keyboard makes the iPad a much more useful device, and increases productivity. There are lots of choices, but we’ve zeroed in on the two that most discriminating attorneys prefer.
  • Styluses for note-taking – The link is to Jeff Richardson’s latest review of the Jot Pro (2nd gen.), and it appears he likes it almost more than his long time preference: the Wacom Bamboo Stylus Duo. There are many choices of styluses, so it’s best to try them in person to see what you like. If you’re going to get one without trying it, then start with Jeff’s two top choices. He also liked the Classic No. 2 Pencil stylus for its novelty effect. We have one and it’s definitely a conversation starter.
  • Best carrying case for an attorney’s iPad – If you want to carry your iPad around in smart case that looks more like an old English law book than a modern computer (which deters thieves, and impresses opposing counsel!), then check out this carrying case from Twelve South. The company makes several elegant products for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.

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