This is the written material to a CLE I gave earlier this month at a national lawyer conference. While is is written more for a personal injury pracitce, I hope you find it useful, even if you practice in a different area.
Dwyer Williams Potter Attorneys, LLP
1051 NW Bond Street
Bend, OR 97701
iPad and the Paperless Office: Multiple Means to an End
The iPad is a useful tool for moving a firm closer to the end goal of a "paperless office." I certainly do not profess to fully utilize my iPad to that end. However, overall, it has been a godsend. Currently, we are somewhere in the middle of our trek towards the goal of a paperless office.
The above being said, we are aware of most of the paths an iPad provides towards that goal – the issue is simply one of implementation, given the relative preferences of the attorneys and staff in my office. I am leading the charge, with the others following at varying distances. Frankly, the issue is one of comfort – each step is a little disorienting at first, as it requires moving away from what is familiar. Once I become familiar with the new approach, I realize what a time saving (and, oftentimes, back saving) step it turns out to be, and wonder why I didn't implement it sooner. Personally, I use a Macbook Pro as well, for a couple of reasons, but the two work quite well in tandem. However, if given the choice between one over the other, I'd go with the iPad.
Given the myriad existing apps and approaches of implementing the iPad into a paperless office, this article is intended to be less of an instruction manual, and more of an exemplar of what options are possible towards this goal.
The first step towards implementation of the iPad in the paperless office: buy an iPad! They come in two sizes and various configurations. I prefer the full-size iPad over the iPad Mini, as it is easier for me to read and review documents on the full-size version. You also have options as to storage (I always opt for the most so that I don't run out, as some apps are large, and I want to be able to store all of my file documents on the iPad). There is an option to have cellular service for wireless communication. This feature is a lifesaver. Your current carrier options are Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. I would research the relative service in your geographic area before deciding. All offer LTE service (blazing fast), but while AT&T is generally the fastest network, Verizon generally has better coverage. Another nifty feature of the iPad is that it can be used as a wireless hub for your laptop, though that is an option through the respective carrier that comes at a price.
I suspect that, by the time of convention, the newest model iPad may be revealed, and possibly already on sale. I would expect the functionality to remain the same as the current model, quite possibly improved (after all, that’s the point of a new model, isn’t it?). The blogosphere reports that it should be thinner, lighter, have a longer battery life, have more memory, a more powerful processor, and possibly a slightly smaller size – shrinking the device essentially to the size of the viewable screen on the current model. I would also expect to see the new “Lightning” adapter that was introduced with the iPhone 5. While not a big point, some of the peripherals for the current model will no longer work without a lightning adapter, if at all.
Finally, a consideration should be given towards protection of your shiny new iPad, by way of a cover vs. case vs. sleeve vs. bag. Frankly, the options seem endless. All I can suggest is that you choose what works best for you. Personally, I have a cover (Apple), two cases (Dodo; Zagg with Bluetooth keyboard), and a laptop bag that has an iPad compartment built in (Booq).
Wireless Keyboard. You can buy a mini-keyboard that is the same size as the iPad itself. These are convenient, as they are generally coupled with a cover or case for your iPad, and are wireless. Alternatively, you can buy a full-size wireless keyboard, which is my preference. The Apple Bluetooth keyboard is only slightly larger than the iPad itself.
Stylus. Steve Jobs famously stated that nature gifted us with the perfect stylus: our finger. I am not entirely convinced. While good for most iPad tasks, there comes a time when finer manipulation is necessary – usually when highlighting documents. In that case, I prefer to use a stylus. There are multiple types and brands to choose from (for example, check out www.beststylus.com). Personally, I don’t like the wide, foam tipped style, as it seems imprecise. My favorite thus far is the Jot Pro (www.adonit.net/jot/), though I am curious how the Jot Touch 4 will perform once released. As for the Jot Pro, I found the plastic disc at the end is a bit funky at first. However, you get used to it quickly, and I find that it presents with the finest control available, and also absorbs the shock when using it to write, much like a ballpoint pen. It feels more natural to use than other models of stylus I have tried.
Mail. Apple's native e-mail program really works quite well. We host our own e-mail on a Microsoft Exchange server, and the iPad ties in seamlessly. The benefit, also, is that the app can group your e-mail according to the subject, which makes reading (and deleting) mail a cinch. It also incorporates the folder structure of your desktop e-mail program (Outlook, in my case), and incorporates the rules you have in place on your desktop.
I would note that there are also other e-mail apps available, though I have never found the need to try one. Moreover, as of the time of this writing, Microsoft has not created an Outlook App for the iPad, though rumors persist that this will happen at some point. I assume, however, that it will only happen after the demise of Microsoft's Surface tablet which, if sales records are any indication, may be sooner than later.
Safari. This is Apple’s native internet browser. Overall, a really good browser. However, the one thorn in my side is that it cannot display Flash content. Apple claims this is due to security concerns. Whether or not that is the case, the internet is slowly, but surely, moving away from Flash-based content. However, if this becomes too much of a problem, there are many browser apps available (Puffin, Skyfire) to allow you to view Flash content.