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Morgan Smith

iPad for Lawyers: First Impressions of the Legal Profession’s New Essential Tool

I finally joined the ranks of iPad owners. Better late than never, right?

I’m normally one of the first to run out and get a new toy, especially if it has the name Apple on it. The iPad was different, though. My initial thought when Apple released the iPad was that it looks really cool, but that my iPhone and MacBook would suffice. Months later, I realized that an iPad is fast becoming an essential tool for trial attorneys, especially if you’re in the business of making presentations.

If you’re like me—belatedly buying an iPad and getting it tricked out with law-related apps—then I hope I can help you by sharing the first steps I took with my new best friend, aka the iPad.

When I realized I had to jump on this not-so-new technology, it was just before the iPad 2 came out, so I waited a bit longer for the iPad 2’s release. Finally, after the backlogged orders cleared, I got mine.

After becoming oriented with its basic features, I found resources to help me learn about iPad apps for attorneys and trial presentation. One of the best resources around is Tablet Legal, Josh Barrett’s blog devoted to covering the iPad for the legal profession. His site and others review popular presentation apps such as Trial Pad ($90) and the inexpensive Exhibit A ($10). I’ll write about these apps in the future to offer suggestions for using them to work up a case and prepare for ADR or trial. For now, I want highlight a surprising advantage I’ve discovered in using an iPad rather than a laptop.

I have a wonderful 17″ MacBook Pro that I carried on our round-the-world trip and continue to use daily. While I’m completely comfortable it, I’ve always found it awkward to force people to sit and huddle around the laptop screen to view images on it. The iPad, on the other hand, allows me to display images or access documents on the screen and show others while we’re all standing around casually or sitting comfortably apart. We can pass it around or I can hold it up for viewing without breaking the flow of conversation. This may seem like a minor point, but it really makes a difference. Of course, if I need to project a presentation onto a screen, I can hook up my iPad to a projector.

Help–I need to find a murse. My laptop shoulder bag is too big.

For all the good things I have to say about the iPad, I do have one major problem that I need help with: I cannot figure out what to use to carry it around! I tried carrying it in my laptop bag, but that bag is pretty heavy and large, and it feels redundant to transport the laptop and iPad. Then I tried carrying it in my hand, but that felt funny as well as unsafe. I know I’m not alone, as a New York Times article identified the difficulty of finding the right “murse” (man purse). I’ve looked online for a murse but haven’t seen any I like.

Please send me suggestions or links to “murses” for iPads in the comments below, as well as any tips you have for integrating your iPad into your litigation practice.

I’ll update my iPad progress in the weeks to come, focusing on presentation software such as Keynote, but for now I have to put my iPad away and go for a run on this beautiful spring day.

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