In part one of this podcast, our host Sean Harris talks with technology consultant Brett Burney about the basics of an iPad and some of the apps available to assist with trial preparation and case management.
Sean: Hello and Welcome to Civilly Speaking, OAJ’s monthly podcast on practical and timely issues. I am your host Sean Harris. Thanks for joining us. Our guest today is my good friend Brett Burney. Brett is the owner of Burney Consultants, based in Cleveland, Ohio. Barney Consultants focuses on independent e-discovery and also works with lawyers, law firms, and corporations using Macs and iPads in their business. Brett is a frequent speaker around the country. I know Brett has been involved with the ABA’s technology section and so we are very happy and excited to have Brett Burney here with us today. Brett, welcome.
Brett: Sean, thank you so much. It is a pleasure and an honor to be with you. Thank you.
Sean: So, we have this device called an iPad. At a very general level, why is an iPad useful for lawyers?
Brett: Well that is a great question and I guess the answer may depend on exactly what you do every day and how you practice. A Mr. Steve Jobs introduced the iPad or announced it in January 2010. It really wasn’t all that long ago and it wasn’t actually available until April 2010. Hopefully in about a week or so we are going to have the sixth generation of the full sized iPad. In all of these years that it has morphed and evolved. I have found that it has really come into its own as sort of almost another tool that certainly not just lawyers but all professionals can incorporate into their repertoire. Everyone today has a mobile phone. Everyone already has a computer, either a laptop or a desktop.When Steve Jobs first announced the iPad he said “we are looking to see if there is room in that middle area for yet another category of devices. Now, when the iPad was first introduced people said it was just for consuming information, you can’t really do anything with it, you can’t create documents. Although, I have to tell you that when I heard that, I’m like well great, isn’t that what we do all day; isn’t that what lawyers do all do, is consume information? You’ve got to read your email, read articles, and documents and you read webpages. It’s a wonderful idea that I can use the iPad for that. First and foremost I look at it as that. Maybe more directly to your question, I find that lawyers, we all deal with documents. We all have piles of documents, and stacks of documents, and boxes of documents, and folders of documents. But what if you could carry literally hundreds of thousands of documents in one device? To me that has become the iPad. It’s like my digital banker’s box or my digital legal pad. I can take notes on it now. I can pull up documents when I need them in a meeting. I can do legal research on it when I am away. Now, today, since it has evolved over all of these years, I have Microsoft Word on the iPad. I can use it for presentation purposes when I use to have to lug around a big laptop to a courtroom to set everything up. It’s so easy to take everything I need right there on the iPad. That may be more information that what you were asking for, but you get the idea that I am pretty excited about this.
Sean: Well and obviously you mention documents, and one of the first things when we are talking about a word document, or PDF, or JPEG, or some of the more popular document formats these days, there some times can be an issue or people have questions about how do I get those documents on to my iPad in the first place.
Brett: Right and that’s a big thing. So to set this up, one of the biggest uses for the iPad, at least for me and a lot of lawyers I work with, again is the fact that you have to read and consume so much information usually case opinions or law review articles or articles that you pull off of the web. Well, when I was in school or when I am doing work for e-discovery, I have to keep up on a lot of case law for electronic discovery today. I used to find the case opinion, print it out, and I had a little pencil bag with different colored highlighters and pens and I would mark it up. I used to carry all of these opinions in paper in manilla folders. Now I use apps. Two of the biggest apps that I use on my iPad are Good Reader, which I believe is still $4.99 and has been around for a long time, and another one called PDF Expert. So, I now put PDF files of case opinions, law review articles, articles I pull off the web, I put them into these apps. Now in these apps, since they are PDFs I can use a stylus or even my finger and I can highlight those sections, I can add notes or text comment boxes in the margins. I can underline things. What is great about the iPad and these apps, Good Reader and PDF Expert, they provide discovery of all of the annotations that I have done. I know lawyers who will get PDF’s of transcripts, for example, and the other side won’t get you a text file or an e-transcript so all you get is a PDF. How do you mark that up and summarize that? Do you sit down and pull out pieces and type it into a new document? No. On the iPad you can just sort of highlight all of the sections that are important and then it gives you a summary. So if you are going to do all of that great stuff, how do you get those documents onto the iPad? Three quick ways that I usually discuss with people. Number one is email; you can email yourself a document. Your sitting at your computer, create a new message and send it to yourself as an attached document. Open up your iPad and then it will be there. You can move that attachment into something like Good Reader or PDF Expert. Number two, you can use iTunes software on your computer. Before we had the iPad we had the iPod, how would you get music onto your iPod? You would buy it on your computer and then plug in the iPod to the computer and copy it from your computer over to your iPod. Well you can do the same thing with documents on the iPad. But the way that must people do it today, that a lot of lawyers rightly so should raise a question about it, is using a cloud service. Something like Dropbox or OneDrive which is Microsofts cloud service, or Google Drive which is Google’s service. Ohio has a Cloud ethics opinion, by the way, Pennsylvania has a very good Cloud ethics opinion about twenty-two states so far have issues Cloud ethics opinions on answering that question ,can lawyers use cloud services? All of them have answered yes; as long as you take those reasonable precautions just like with anything that you do. Like a reasonable precaution for checking information on your phone is to put a passcode on there. So you can use services like Dropbox or Boxer for example that you can put document in on the cloud service. You can use your iPad to connect to those services. It is an easy way, especially if you are going to trial with a lot of large audio or video files or pictures. You can easily suck those down onto the iPad from a service like Dropbox or Boxer.
Sean: From your perspective, speaking of these cloud options, what are your concerns about the security of those options?
Brett: Excellent question. Now I am a little bit on the geeky, nerdy side if you haven’t figured that out already. But, here is the way that I answer that a lot of time Sean. None of us in the legal profession rarely think twice about sending an email today to a client or so. An unencrypted email, I always add. I don’t even know if I could figure out how to send an encrypted email and if I could I don’t know if any of my clients would know how to decrypt an email. The point that I am getting to here is that we have been using email for years and years. In fact in 1999 the ADA had an ethics opinion out where they said unencrypted emails are perfectly fine for sending information to clients; unless there is an added knowledge that you should use an encrypted email for one reason or another. The point is that we use email every day. We send the most confidential and sensitive information by email, do we not? The point is that we have been using unencrypted email. Can you use a cloud service? Yes. Make sure you have a very good password on there. Make sure you read through those terms of service, the things that we just click through and say yes but never read, even as lawyers. Make sure that you read those and understand who owns the data, who is responsible incase of a breach and things like that. Those things are usually spelled out there. In fact that’s what all of the ethics opinions say. The Pennsylvania opinion is excellent in the fact that it provides several bullet points for what you should be looking at. So, I am not going to say that is enough to convince everybody. In some cases, I always say when I talk to some lawyers, if I understand the kind of information that you deal with, maybe the cloud service is not appropriate for what you should be doing. But in those cases, you should probably be using encrypted email. You should probably be ensuring a lot more stuff than what you may be doing right now at the law firm if that is the case.
Sean: Going back to the document editing apps, the one that I have used that I want to get your thoughts on is called Notability. While it may not have the PDF editing, what I like about it, and I end up using it for depositions a lot, is that I can both type and write. That is I can type out text that is editable, but I can also annotate free hand or draw a layout of a crash scene or something like that right in my notes. Not only, and I suppose other apps can do that too, but I end up taking pictures of exhibits, of the court reporter’s business card, and putting it right there in my notes.
Brett: Notability for me falls into that category that I call sort of Note Taking on the iPad; which I love. I use these constantly. In fact, I rarely take a yellow legal pad around with me anywhere. I may have one with me in a briefcase just in case. But today, the iPad is basically the same size. Notability is probably one of the ones that I recommend the most. When I talk about note taking usually I ask, do you want to type your notes or do you want to hand write your notes? What’s great about it is what you mentioned, in something like Notability you can do both. Another one of my favorites is called Noteshelf. But again, Notability is probably one of the best all around full featured apps. In fact, you mentioned the PDF, they do allow you now to bring in a PDF so that you can mark up a PDF just like you are doing on your notes. What I love about Notability also is that you can customize your background. So if you like the yellow page with ruled lines, because you like your legal pad, you can create it just like that. You can use a stylus. If you have an iPad Pro you can use the Apple Pencil today. But, just quickly, Notability is great. In fact, I show this all of the time because when I go to a conference and people have a slide up on the page and they are talking about it but I know they are going to go to the next slide, but I still want to read what is on that slide. Since the iPad has a camera in it, I am in Notability, I can simply take a quick snapshot of the slide, I incorporate that into my notes and then I can mark up the picture that I just took of that slide. I don’t think you mentioned this, but the last thing on Notability, you can record audio at the same time that you are taking notes. This is probably what Notability does better than any other app, it will synchronize the audio you are recording with the notes that you are taking. I was reading something the other day that was just saying that they basically just let the recording go, as long as you get permission from everybody involved, but he just lets the recording go and he will just write a word or a phrase or do a check mark when there is something important. Then he can go back later, he just simply taps on that check mark and whatever was being recorded at that time, Notability will play the audio from that point. So it synchronizes everything. A lot of people love that. It is a fantastic way to kind of remember what was being talked about at the time that you were taking notes, instead of trying to write it down verbatim.
Sean: We’ve talked a lot about editing documents on an iPad. One of the things that lawyers spend a lot of time doing is legal research. How does that work?
Brett: The two big gorillas both now have apps. WestLaw was the first. They came out with their advanced search capabilities. It’s been a few years now, but it was called WestLaw Next. They have a beautiful app that they came out with first. Not too far behind Lexis came out with their own. So both of those services have well designed apps. I like Lexis Advanced is their next generation search tool. Both the WestLaw Next and the Lexis Advanced you have to have a subscription, they are not free. If you do have a subscription, it will synchronize with whatever you were doing on your computer, you can save documents back and forth, you can export them as PDF’s out of the app. They are both so simplified, which is really the hallmark of most iPad apps. On the computer, there are just so many features and options. Really, I just love the scaled down option of both of the apps. Now, there is another service called FastCase. Some bar associations across the country have agreements with. You can sign up for a free account. The app is free and you can get a free account, but you don’t get all the bells and whistles without a subscription to FastCase. I should say that I believe if you are a member with the Ohio State Bar Association you have access to CaseMaker, so if you have a subscription there they do have an app. Those are probably the four that I typically recommend. Although I would quickly just add there are a couple of other apps that I love as well. I do a lot of e-discovery work, which means that I am constantly referring to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure or whichever state that I am working in. There is an app called RuleBook, which will allow me to basically download copies of the federal and state(s) rules. Basically they are there available online. With all of the other services, you have to be connected to the internet to access to the services. I used to carry around a little book with me that had the Federal rules so that I could refer to it at an engagement. But now that I have the iPad, I subscribe to the app, it’s free, and you just have in-app purchases for the federal rules or the state rules. There is another one called LawStack. But now I can get the downloaded, I don’t have to be connected to the internet, I can search for a word or phrase inside of the rules, which is wonderful! I couldn’t do that on my little booklet that I used to carry around. And I can copy a section and paste it into an email for example. And, once you purchase them on those apps, they get updated. So, my book was probably about 5 years out of date, but now I know I have the most up to date once you update the app.
Sean: Again, we spend a lot of time in litigation reviewing and consuming information like you said. That would include, not just generalize documents, but specifically deposition transcripts. Are there apps that you like for that?
Brett: Absolutely. Probably the number one app for transcripts is called TranscriptPad. It is a sister app for another one that maybe some listeners have heard of, TrialPad. TranscriptPad is a professional app so it has a professional price tag with it. I tell people this is not AngryBirds pricing. I believe the TranscriptPad app is $89.99 in the app store. People have to kind of get over that a little bit in the sense that it’s not like a $2.99 puzzle game that our grand kids are playing or something. It is a professional grade application. It’s fantastic in the sense that I can get a text file from the court reporter or from the other side, you can bring that into TranscriptPad. You can bring PDF’s, exhibits, etc so that you can have it along side the transcript. You can then in the text file, read through the entire file; it even separates it out into pages and the line numbers. You can select portions, or paragraphs, or Q&A pairs and then you can associate an issue code with it, for example. You can color code it so that when you read through it you can understand which sections are important. You can add a little comment or a flag to it if you need to. Or you can search everything inside of it, which is wonderful. At the end of this you can actually generate a report. It is a PDF file that you can select what pieces and parts you want in the report. It will give you a PDF report of everything that you highlighted in there. Basically, you have just gone through and summarized an entire transcript that way. TranscriptPad is the number one, but there are a few others. Now, we go to the opposite end of the pricing spectrum. WestLaw, which has a product for Window’s computers called WestLaw Case Notebook, that is sort of a competitor to CaseMap, which is now owned by Lexis. But WestLaw Case Notebook has a free iPad app, simply called E-Transcript. So sometimes you will get an e-transcript file from the court reporter or the other side that is usually a .ptx file. You can pull that into this free app on the iPad. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that TranscriptPad does, but it is a free app that you can pull in and use. TextMap is another Lexis application for Window’s computers. There is a free TextMap app as well that you can get for the iPad; which is really nice. Those are the three that I usually recommend to view transcripts. I’ll add this… if you get a PDF and you can’t get another version of it as a text file or anything from the other side, you can use the GoodReader app. In fact, Jeff Richardson, who is a lawyer down in New Orleans, has a fantastic blog called iphoneJD.com. He has written a couple of great posts on how he uses GoodReader to go through and summarize PDF transcripts. If you find yourself in that pickle, GoodReader is probably the way to go. But if you have the text file, TranscriptPad or E-Transcript app from WestLaw are best.
Sean: Now this next category of apps, I will tell you upfront, I am skeptical about as a trial lawyer and that is using apps to help you during jury selection. Only because there is so much going on and so much that you have to be aware of, both questions that you want to ask and information about the jurors and their reactions, etc. Tell us about jury selection apps, how they work, and wether they are worth it.
Brett: For folks who do this a lot, I think it’s worth at least trying out one or two. I think it is at least worth looking at because I share some of your skepticism. I have come to the point where I don’t recommend that this is a full replacement for maybe the folders with little post it notes that you move around. But it could be useful in some situations. Here is the only one that I would probably recommend today, it is called iJuror. I think it is about $15 in the app store. My biggest complaint about it is that it looks a little fisher price-esqe. They really need to improve the graphics on there quite a bit. Here’s the thing, if you need to do a search for anybody who is in that pool of potential jurors or maybe even the current jury that has, for example, law enforcement experience. How do you keep track of that? With this app, if you have somebody who puts all of the information into this app, it is simply like two or three taps to find who has specific experience like law enforcement. Or if someone makes a comment about a particular experience or object or fact; you can put all of that information into this app and then you can search it in real time. Again, it’s not for everybody, but in some cases it might be useful as sort of a research component during trial. By the way, you can also track information like which juror is falling asleep, or who is crying at a specific time, things like that.
Sean: I think your caveat about playing around with it and getting comfortable with it first so that you can be present in the moment for jury selection is probably the best advice.
Brett: There are a couple of others out there too that don’t focus as much on the things that I am talking about. With iJuror, if you go to the website you’ll see some screenshots. You can move people around, they have different backgrounds that are red if you’ don’t like somebody, or green if you do like them, or yellow if you are neutral. There are other apps that don’t focus on that part of it but they can help you have an outline of the questions you re going to be asking, for example. They just help you organize your questions and those sort of things.
Sean: In addition to getting organized the iPad can be a tool for creativity as well.I know that there are some apps out there that focus on mind maps. Tell us what that is and how we can use that.
Brett: I have to say, people kind of get mind maps or they just ignore them. I was in that later category for a long time. I didn’t really care about mind maps and I heard people talking about how it’s a great way to be creative, and show you flow and thinking and I just didn’t really have time for it… until, honestly, I started using an iPad. I started using a couple of these apps. I now use mind maps for any of the things that we were just talking about, to sort of just brainstorm an idea. Whereas in the past I would have just had a bullet point list in a Word document. With mind maps now, usually you have a central hub of an idea or a thought and then with the mind map you sort of have these spokes that come off of it and you can add additional items to it. What I love about the iPad and mind maps is that I can just simply tap on a box, move it to the other side, or move it down, or change the color of it, that kind of a thing. From a brainstorming component it is wonderful. But, I have also seen several trial lawyers or litigators use it effectively even from creating some kind of a work flow. One of my favorites is iThought. It is probably one of the first places I go when I want to get something out of my head and start formulating an idea. I’ve got another app that I’ve seen lawyers use effectively to maybe generate like a family tree or to demonstrate a corporate organizational structure chart. One of my favorite apps to do that is called Grafio. It allows you to create these lovely, beautiful organizational charts. Sometimes I have seen people use it as a storyboard to see how things may happen or to visualize the events. It’s not really a timeline, although there are some good apps for that. I’ve seen people use something like Grafio or iThought to create a timeline because you can attach documents to it. I used to work at Thompson Hines for a long time, and we used to pay tens of thousands of dollars to create these elaborate wonderful organizational charts. We have that power in our hands now on something like the iPad. There are other applications for Window’s computers and Mac’s as well but on the iPad I feel like anyone can just pick it up and do it themselves. It’s sort of simplified on the iPad if they are able to do it that way.
Sean: You mentioned timelines and being able to graphically demonstrate, in any kind of case, how far apart dates are and events are. A picture is worth a thousand words and the iPad certainly makes that easier with timelines.
Brett: Absolutely. Two apps that I will mention, one of my favorites that has been around for awhile and I keep hoping they are are going to update it, and I would never use this for a long complicated timeline which you are trying to simplify most of the time anyways, is called Timeline3D. I seem to remember it is around the $10 mark. It does a beautiful job of letting you create an event with text on it. You can add an image and then image could be of a document, for example, or an image of an injury, or an x-ray or something along those lines. Obviously it is left up to your imagination as a trial lawyer and exactly how you want to present this information. With Timeline3D once you generate the timeline it’s a beautiful 3D rendering of how it goes. In fact you actually slide into different apps and you can control it from your iPad. You have the listing of your events on your iPad but the screen that the audience, jury, or judge is seeing is a beautiful 3D interface. I, again, recommend to a lot of lawyers that you might want to use this to introduce the timeline but you might want to have your trusty old foam board over there on an easel afterwards so that you can keep it in front on the jury. Your sort of have to keep this as a tool in your tool belt that may not be the ultimate show. Another app that I want to mention… I haven’t used this too much but I keep getting interest in it is an app called Final Argument and I believe it is around $5. It sort of integrates both of these ideas of a mind map on a timeline. So, it allows you to build this timeline but from a mind mapping angle. Then as you tap through it, what your audience is looking at on the screen is again, you are walking them through the events. You sort of have to look at it to understand it. But Timeline3D is an excellent app and Final Argument is another one that I like as well.
Thank you for reviewing Part 1 of Brett Burney’s discussion on iPad technology. Check back for Part 2.