Solo & Small Firm

Tech Report: Using a Tablet in Your Law Practice

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Tech Tips, Your AI In-House Editor

By Robert Klein, Los Angeles
A law practice devoted to helping personal injury victims.

Confessions of a tech junkie by someone who prefers to travel light and smart. I have been a PC user my entire career. I have been an iPad user for approximately 7 years. I find both platforms are useful in my day-to-day litigation practice, and I use both differently. (I contemplate switching to a Mac practice but since I continue to use WordPerfect (yes, call me a Luddite) there certain drawbacks with a Mac.) I use a Lenovo T460s with 20 GB of RAM as my desktop. However, it weighs roughly 3 lbs. So I use an iPad as well.

Using a PC and an iPad creates wonderful flexibility. The battery life on an iPad is 10 hours. This exceeds the battery life of virtually any PC. A new MacBook Air states its battery life is 12 hours and the MacBook Pro states its battery life 10 hours (actual usage will vary.) But, an iPad, even the newer 12.9 inch iPad Pro, is lighter than virtually every other device. The new MacBook Air weighs approximately 2.75 pounds; the 13-inch MacBook Pro weighs approximately 3.02 pounds; and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro weighs 1.4 pounds. The 11-inch iPad Pro only weighs 1 pound. So, considering weight, the iPad wins.

The displays are similar, enough so a using not doing extensive graphic work, should not be impacted. In fact, the quality of the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is close in the quality of the display for the 15 inch MacBook Pro (yet the iPad is substantially lighter.)

Using a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, Sugarsync, Box, OneDrive or Google Docs will provide access to virtually any document on an iPad. So, if your practice requires reading case law, documents, medical records, or reviewing discovery, I find the iPad Pro to be a wonderful device. The days of carrying a large notebook, or a banker box full of documents, is behind me. I have access to any file of any size on an iPad through a cloud service. There are many ways I use this accessibility.

I read many documents on my iPad. I don’t carry files, nor do I have folders and I don’t need a legal pad for notes. There are wonderful apps which facilitate reading and note taking including: GoodReader, Adobe Acrobat Reader, PDF Expert, Notability, and Documents.

I am most familiar with GoodReader and explain how I use it on my iPad. My cloud storage, which syncs with my PC, looks identical on my iPad and PC. I can download any document to my iPad and read and review it. If I make a markups or notations, GoodReader will ask me if I want to save the noted filed as an annotated file or save the changes to the original file.  There is one caveat, the documents I am reviewing and the notations I am making are made on a PDF document. I sync all these documents back to my PC and know one copy is unchanged and one copy is annotated.

Using the free Microsoft word app, which I am using as I type this paragraph, allows me to edit any Word document. So though I started this document on my PC, I am making annotations and other changes on my iPad (and I see that at this point, I have written about 575 words!)

It is easy to have your calendar and contacts sync on both platforms. This can be done through Google or Office 365. And, editing documents can be done through Google or Office 365.

What I am trying to convey is the functionality of using iPad. I need not carry a pile of papers (e.g. documents, I need not carry a heavy device, and I do not need to carry a charger. I have a portable keyboard and I have an iPad that weighs 1 pound, 7 oz. (which includes its case.) I can sit anywhere, I can read anywhere, I can work anywhere. I get to court early and have documents to read, without the burden of carrying a file. I go home early and bring my iPad rather than my PC because any work I need to get done is available on my iPad.

I just scratched the surface on the value of an iPad. There are so many apps useful for lawyers. If you read depositions, there is an app called TranscriptPad. If you want to use an iPad during trial or arbitration, there is a companion app called TrialPad. You can show a PowerPoint through an iPad. The list goes on and on and on.

I understand an iPad not cheap. The new iPad Pro, 12.9 inches with 256 GB costs $1,150.00. 11-inch iPad Pro will cost $950.00. I also recommend getting the larger GB size. My first iPad was 64 GB and I was over that limit after several months. My current iPad has 256 GB and I have used approximately 90 GB of storage in the first year. Consider how you would use an iPad and that will help you decide which size is more appropriate for your needs and your practice. Finally, there is the intangible-using an iPad makes work fun. Life is always better when there is more fun.

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