An iPad attorney muses about his favorite apps to help you create efficiencies in your practice this year.
By Mark Unger, Family Lawyer & Technology Consultant
As I muse about the future, I find myself focusing on some of the core apps to propel my 2017 and drive my iPad-attorney life this next year. The following is a short day-in-the-life of such existence, offered to you in the hope that you too will create efficiencies in your practice and a better quality of life in your personal domains.
This is my go-to app for note-taking. You can import a PDF in order to continue taking notes; it allows text or handwriting; and, most significantly, it allows for recording during note-taking (with notice to the other party depending on your jurisdiction). When playing back the recording, it will automatically show you what you were writing or typing at the time of the recording. Top potential uses are client intake, notes during hearings, etc. Notability also provides automatic backup via iCloud sync or Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive. www.gingerlabs.com
Day One Journal
This app is great for client journaling or tracking events with their ex or soon-to-be ex. Your client can type or dictate notes on a particular day and insert pictures or screenshots of text messages into those notes. Their notes can then be exported in a complete timeline as a PDF, giving the attorney a ready-made timeline of activity between the parties.
Day One for Mac allows you to sync from your Day One Journal on an iPhone or iPad, has touch-bar support for the new MacBook Pro, and has an IFTTT channel and encryption to allow you to work between devices and/or provide for additional methods of sharing. Dropbox or iCloud syncing is supported only in the classic (prior) version of the app. www.dayoneapp.com
It’s no more advisable to text message between staff and clients using iMessage or SMS than it is to use this as a form of primary communication within the office; it may be instantaneous, but it is less secure, difficult to track for billing purposes, and spreads outside of your billing system or practice management system – so it is very difficult to search for past communication on a specific topic. Slack (free and paid versions) provides business-grade instant messaging that can be arranged on a per-case basis, for direct messages, or by general office topics, making it the best way to contain communication within the office. The free version includes 5GB of file storage, two-factor authentication, and two-person voice/video calls; the “Standard” version also includes increased security, group calls, and custom retention policies; and the “Plus” version includes more security and storage. www.slack.com
I have used this app to review, tag (label), and categorize relevant portions of transcript testimony in preparation for a hearing on a Motion to Enter Order and for additional relief. It quickly let me pull testimony from prior hearings when opposing counsel brought up issues that there wasn’t notice of in the relief being sought. Not only were the requests denied, but my additional relief was granted. The workflow includes creating issues or keywords when the case starts (like #childsupport or #possession) and then using those words in hearing, for later search and tagging to automatically create a cross-examination outline, or to address the issues later in court. www.litsoftware.com/transcript
This app is excellent for presenting documents, photos, or testimony on screen while using the iPad. Import entire folders that you’ve already created on your desktop via Dropbox, Box, Citrix Sharefile, Transporter, or WebDAV. TrialPad allows you to organize, annotate, and present most evidence – including callouts, highlights, and side-by-side document comparison – edit/show video, add exhibit stickers, free hand annotation, and save admitted documents/evidence as “key doc” for pulling later for closing or additional review on cross examination, etc. www.litsoftware.com/trialpad
Add entire folders and files in the same way as TrialPad in order to highlight, annotate, redact, add custom bates stamps, and create reports. You can add “issue codes,” which can then be transferred into a Key Docs folder in TrialPad for presentation purposes. www.litsoftware.com/docreviewp
If you haven’t experienced OurFamilyWizard yet, you likely need to – especially if you are advising your client how to prepare for possible, if not inevitable, future disputes. While Day One Journal is the way to document events and text communications, etc., with an opposing ex-spouse, OurFamilyWizard is the way to preserve communication, requests for reimbursement, calendaring, etc. It supports expert and attorney access and viewing or download of activity. One of the proactive co-parenting benefits is that if required at the time of divorce, it tends to be a disincentive to ugly texting issues that we have seen in some cases. www.ourfamilywizard.com
Mark I. Unger is a divorce lawyer, mediator, and consultant in San Antonio, Texas. He has practiced family law almost exclusively since 2007, and launched Muse Legal Technology Consulting in 2015 to help solo and small firms increase efficiency in their practices. www.muselegal.com