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iPad and the Paperless Office - Part 3

Posted by attorney Timothy Williams

This is the third part of a guide published today.

Outlining and Dictating

MagicalPad. This app allows you to organize your ideas into flow charts, mind mapping, checklists, etc. It is shocking easy to use, and great for creating flowcharts, brainstorming ideas, organizational/relationship charting, etc. It can also back up to Dropbox, Evernote, GoogleDocs, e-mail, etc. in multiple formats. The fact that it is a freeform layout, meaning that you can move the various elements around and connect them however you see fit, makes for an interesting and useful experience to help you organize your case or thoughts.

OmniGraffle. Like MagicalPad, this app allows you to create flowcharts, charts, etc. It is also an excellent app in that regard. It has several export options as well.

Dictation. The current generation iPad also has dictation build right into the keypad. All you have to do is open up a document and speak. I've never dictated in my life, so don't use it myself. However, in playing around with it, I found it to be quite accurate, so long as you speak slowly and clearly.

Dragon Dictation. This is a dictation app brought to you by the good folks at Nuance. It was more relevant before the new generation of iPad included Dictation integration. However, some folks still prefer Dragon (some find it more accurate), so I thought I'd mention it here.


There are several ways that the iPad can help your deposition note taking. It can be used to type notes, to write notes, or to audio record the deposition itself! Here are some examples:

DocsToGo. This app, discussed above, allows you to open and edit and save Word (.doc) documents. It’s not perfect, but it is probably the best option out there for Word documents until Microsoft releases its own app.

Pages. This is Apple’s version of Word. The nice thing is that it is made for the iPad. It, too, can open and edit Word (.doc) documents, though lacks the ability to open and edit Excel or PowerPoint documents. There are also more formatting options than DocsToGo offers, and the type-text rate is more instant. When using the iPad to take deposition notes, this is usually the app I use.

Penultimate, Notability, etc. As discussed above, if you prefer to take handwritten deposition notes, there are great options to do so. The word recognition of some of these apps is very useful.

Adobe Ideas. This app allows you to upload a document or photo, and then have a witness (or multiple witnesses) mark it up during the deposition. Each witness can start with the blank slate, so that they aren’t marking over other witnesses’ exhibits. You can then, during the deposition itself, e-mail the marked up exhibits to the court reporter and opposing counsel. Moreover, it is already in electronic format to use as an exhibit at trial.

TranscriptPad. This is a great app that allows you to review deposition transcripts on your iPad. All you need is to request a copy of the transcript in text (.txt) format. From there, you upload it into the program, and start reading. It allows you to highlight in multiple colors, create Issue Codes (assign a highlight color to an issue you create, such as “Facts of Accident" or “Motion in Limine.") You can then easily create a report that pulls all applicable sections of the transcript for each “issue" you assigned to use as a cheat sheet during cross examination. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have 15-20 depositions loaded, and to be able to read them while on a flight with nothing more than my iPad in my hands. If nothing else, it makes traveling easier, and saves you storage space at the office.

NOTE: If I plan to blow up and project a portion of a deposition at trial, I use a PDF annotator to do the highlighting and redaction of testimony I do not plan to publish. I find it easier to pre-highlight a PDF version of the deposition on my desktop to upload into TrialPad (more on that app later) to project. TranscriptPad is great for reviewing and organizing, but not necessarily great to upload and use in TrialPad. Hopefully, given the fact that the apps are created by the same developer, a future update may resolve this issue.

Westlaw Case Notebook Portable E-Transcript. While free, I have yet to try this app. I do know that it is designed to work from the E-Transcript format (.ptx). I just wanted to let you know that it is out there. The app’s detail page indicates that it allows you to highlight and add notes, as well as e-mail the edited version to yourself or otherwise update it in the Westlaw Case Notebook desktop application. While free, considering the developer, it is no doubt designed to work with another paid service, and I presume the Case Notebook fills that void.

Mediation / Settlement

I have found the iPad to be an excellent tool at mediation. I like to use my iPad during mediations in a couple of different ways:

DocsToGo. I put together an Excel spreadsheet that automatically deducts attorney fees, costs, liens, outstanding bills, etc. from a settlement offer, showing the client the net proceeds. In the adjacent column, it calculates, based off of that net amount, the verdict necessary at trial to net the same to the client. This is often a helpful aid in getting a case resolved at mediation, and tends to impress clients, mediators, and opposing counsel.

Keynote. This is essentially Apple’s version of Microsoft PowerPoint. While it is pared down a bit from the laptop version, it has plenty of bells and whistles to make a clear, concise, and easy to follow presentation. The app can also convert PowerPoint (.ppt) files as well, though some of the more complex formatting or transitions can be buggy. Because of that, I prefer to build my presentations in Keynote, so as to avoid formatting issues altogether. My presentation is created very much like a closing argument, and I try to limit it to 10-15 minutes, and include relevant photos, x-rays, etc. It really tends to impress the mediator and, more importantly, the adjuster (who often looks at their lawyer with an expression that can only mean, “Well, where’s yours?"). A strong first impression often greases the skids towards a fruitful settlement.

Dropbox. I love uploading all important documents into my Dropbox folder, so that the only thing sitting in front of me at the mediation is my iPad. This creates an aura of someone who is tech savvy, organized, and confident in their case. It certainly leaves a better impression than a table covered in paper, binders, stickies, etc. However, I do like to highlight and note the important documents, so that I can easily find the key language/passage in response to an issue that might arise. Of course, I cover all key documents in my mediation memos, so oftentimes, I simply have a copy of my memo open on my iPad to refer to in a pinch.

Picture It Settled. This is an interesting app that I came across may or may not aid in negotiations. It graphically plots out offers and demands in settlement negotiations, and attempts to extrapolate the point at which the case will be resolved, given the trend of offers and demands. It claims it has an 80% accuracy rate, though I have not used it as of the date of this writing. In reading its promotional material, it is possibly a “gateway app," designed to bait you into signing up for the company’s full service. That being said, it might be worth a gander.

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