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DTCI: To 4G or not to 4G, that is the question

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By Kori L. McOmber
 

mcomber-kori-mug.jpg McOmber

Okay. I’ll admit it. I’ve had iPad envy ever since the first iPad launched in April 2010. My envy was not the result of needing one (truth be told, I was not really sure what I would do with it once I got it), but more in the spirit of always wanting the newest toy. The iPad just looked cool. It seemed to be a great way to kill time surfing the Internet and keeping up with the news while waiting for a hearing to start. The thought of using it to advance my legal practice never occurred to me. Soon after surfing the app store, it became clear that the iPad was not only great for personal uses but could also help lawyers manage their practices more efficiently even when they are away from their desks. Here are highlights of some apps that can make a lawyer more efficient:

Penultimate – This app is like having a legal pad on your iPad. You can write with your finger or a stylus and take notes just like you would use a pen and a legal pad. After you are done taking notes at a meeting or hearing, email yourself the notes and print them for your file. The app is very easy to use and understand. You can erase something or cut and paste text on a page or in a notebook. You can change the order of pages and move notes around to different pages in your notebook. Notes are easy to review if needed during a deposition or hearing and shuffling between pages is simple. There is a view that allows you to see all pages in a notebook at one time and click on the one you want. And at 99 cents, this app is quite a deal.

Good Reader – The Good Reader app is a little difficult to figure out at first. In essence, with Good Reader, you can review PDF documents, such as depositions, and highlight important text. You can also make annotations linked to certain text. For example, if a witness testifies to a fact that is contradicted by another witness, you can type an annotation that links the two contradictory statements complete with page and line references. You can email yourself copies of the highlighted and annotated depositions and print them for a trial notebook. The app took some getting used to but this is a great tool for those who travel and do not want to carry several transcripts with them everywhere they go. The cost of $4.99 makes this a worthy investment.

FastCase – This is a free legal research tool which seems to provide accurate search results. A recent search on FastCase turned up the same cases a more involved search on Westlaw revealed. While this may not be the fastest way to conduct legal research, it seems to get the job done if needed in a pinch. And, the price (FREE) is right.

In addition to apps, there are accessories that should be considered. A keyboard is a nice addition for those who intend on monitoring heavy email traffic and doing lots of typing. In addition, if you intend on using your iPad for presentations, you will need a connector or adapter to plug into a TV or projector. Finally, there is the difficult decision whether to purchase a 4G iPad or an iPad that runs on WiFi. The 4G iPad costs approximately $130 more depending on the amount of memory you select. Only Verizon and AT&T offer the new iPad data plan, but you do not have to have your cell phone plan through either of these carriers. Setting up the data plan is quite simple and can be accomplished in just a few minutes. The 4G allows instant access to email and the Internet without having to locate a WiFi signal everywhere you go. If you are a person who likes convenience and instant gratification, the 4G is the way to go.•

Ms. McOmber is a partner in Schultz & Pogue in Indianapolis and is a member of the board of directors of the DTCI. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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