TrialPad 4.0: Trial Presentation Made Easy

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I recently put TrialPad 4.0 through its paces during  a two-week trial — but not from the start. As in the past, I felt to overwhelmed to add figure out a new app to my trial prep to-do list.

So I started trial using Acrobat to display documents. I am very comfortable with Acrobat, and I knew I would not have to wonder about how to find a particular feature or function in the middle of trial.

After all, like most paperless lawyers, I use Acrobat on a daily basis. But by day two of what I knew would be a two-week trial, I was frustrated with the limitations of Acrobat, particularly the inability to do a call-out on the fly. This was hampering my ability to really emphasize key pieces of evidence.

A heavenly light should have descended.

I had a copy of TrialPad from Ian O’Flaherty, who developed it. Ian was kind enough to provide me with a code to download TrialPad at no cost. This is probably why I felt no need to use it, since I wasn’t invested in it. But now I had to get up and running overnight if I wanted to use something better than Acrobat during my trial. And I did get up and running overnight. I went back to my hotel room, loaded up the documents I knew I would be working with the next day, ran through the process of presenting and annotating, and then set back to prepare for the next day of trial.

With more than a little trepidation, I hooked my iPad up to my projector the next day at trial.

A heavenly light should have descended. I’m not kidding, TrialPad was nearly magical. To say that ease of use is built in is a vast understatement. Using TrialPad was simple and intuitive. I was calling out and highlighting key passages with ease like I had never experienced before. I have tried cases against trial teams with dedicated IT teams, and their process was so cumbersome and prone to error that I had sworn off dedicated trial presentation applications.

By day four of trial, my opposing counsel had switched to his iPad and TrialPad as well.

TrialPad brought all the features of the dedicated trial presentation programs that work (when they work) and more, and it was so simple to use that literally anyone could do it. By day four of trial, my opposing counsel had switched to his iPad and TrialPad as well.

Here are the features I found to be the most important.

Adding Files is Easy

TrialPad 4.0 allows you to add files via Dropbox, Box, and iCloud, using wi-fi or Bluetooth. You can import photos from the Photos app on your iPad, and you can also connect your iPad to your computer to add files in bulk via iTunes.

I used both iTunes and Dropbox to import files throughout the trial. My only complaint is that files added via Dropbox are not automatically updated when you make changes to the file on your computer. I understand that allowing continuous sync of files like this could lead to problems if multiple people are working on the files during the course of a trial, but for a solo like me it would be a huge convenience. Perhaps one solution would be to allow this to be toggled on or off as a setting.

That being said, one thing I found surprising was how quickly I could edit a document on my computer and re-upload it via Dropbox. All I needed was a wi-fi connection. I had to do this on numerous occasions on the fly, during lunch and other breaks.

Presentation Tools Are Simple, Easy to Use, and Great-Looking

Trial Pad has five presentation tools: Callout, Highlight, Pen, Redact and Laser.

Photo Jul 02, 9 54 41 AM

I relied almost exclusively on the Callout and Highlight tools. A simple tap on the Callout tool icon allows you to draw a box around the selected text or portion of a document. That portion is immediately enlarged to nearly the full image, emphasizing the selected portion. It is the same process for Highlight. The only trouble was that, on a couple of occasions my fat finger made selecting a small portion of text troublesome. The solution was simple: use a stylus.

The Pen tool simply lets you draw on the document — whether you want to add text or circle a critical element. Redact works just like the Highlight and Callout tools but hides the selected text. And Laser simply “projects” a replica of a laser pointer so you can point things out without looking for your laser pointer.

Another really nice feature of TrialPad is the ability to project two documents side by side for comparison. This is also easy to do.

Presenting with a Projector or External Monitor

The courtroom I was working in had recently added a 50″ monitor I could have used. Instead, I opted to connect my iPad to my own projector via HDMI. As I expected, it was a simple matter of plug and play. No muss, no fuss.

Exhibit Stickers and Introducing Exhibits

I generally pre-mark my exhibits using Acrobat stamps, so I did not use the Exhibit Sticker feature of TrialPad this time — although I probably will use it in the future. It is simple and intuitive.

The feature for tracking evidence that had been admitted was a great addition to version 4.0, although figuring out how to do this in the midst of trial was one of the few things that was not entirely intuitive. To use either the Exhibit Sticker or Admitted feature, you tap and hold on the document image. A window will open allowing you to chose whether to mark the exhibit as admitted, rename the document, or assign and exhibit sticker. That explanation may have been in the quick start tutorial, but I missed it if it was.

Admitted documents get sorted into their own list so you can access them quickly.

The Key Documents Feature

One of the features I appreciated the most was the ability to mark an entire document or even just a page from a document as a key document. Like admitted documents, the key documents can be called up in their own list for quick access.

My particular trial had more than 10,000 pages of medical records and deposition testimony, so it was fairly document intensive (to say the least) and I gave the Key Documents feature quite a workout. One thing I’d love to see added, if possible, would be multiple sets of key documents so that you could pre-identify key documents to use with different witnesses. Instead, I found myself re-shuffling key documents before each day of trial in order to be ready for that day’s witnesses. The ability to do that in advance for multiple witnesses would be a great addition to the application.

Other Features

TrialPad also has the ability to display audio and video files. While I have not tried this live in trial, I can easily understand how this would be useful for short video clips, such as those you might use to impeach a witness. Given the size of most video deposition files, I would doubt that this would be a reasonable method for playing full video depositions.

The video display feature does have basic video editing options for capturing a frame or a video clip. Like other features, it is simple to use and designed so you can use it on the fly, if necessary.

The Bottom Line

Every iPad-toting trial lawyer should buy TrialPad and use it at your next trial or mediation. You won’t regret it.

Overall, TrialPad is an outstanding addition to a trial lawyer’s arsenal. It simply and elegantly duplicates the most often used features of many different trial presentation programs, at far less cost. A single license for Trial Director is $695. While Trial Director obviously does more, I seriously doubt that it does what TrialPad does with the same ease.

TrialPad is an absolute bargain at $89. And unlike Trial Director, there is no annual maintenance cost.

Every iPad-toting trial lawyer should buy TrialPad and use it at your next trial or mediation. You won’t regret it.

Summary

TrialPad is an outstanding addition to anyone’s trial arsenal. It simply and elegantly duplicates the most-used trial presentation features at far less cost than the competition.

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

TrialPad, reviewed by Todd Hendrickson on .

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  • Will Harrelson

    Great read Todd! I managed to convince my father to let me second-chair a two-day workers’ compensation appeal jury trial using TrialPad back in March or April and he was pretty impressed by what I was able to do on the fly. As you said, the call-out feature was really important especially when we would discuss our afternoon strategy over lunch and I could make changes to which exhibits and what specific parts of those exhibits we would call-out in the afternoon.

    Though we lost and the opposing counsel (from a very large firm) was always professional, courteous, and agreeable, and they have become friends, the best part was watching the two lawyers and a litigation paralegal mess around with a laptop and some very, very expensive trial presentation program that did not have nearly the ease of use TrialPad features. Particularly, it is far easier to make adjustments from my chair when the first-chair during direct, cross, or closing goes off script and the TrialPad operator needs to switch exhibits quickly, easily, and without the jury noticing that there was a slight hiccup.

    I’ll use it for every trial from now on.

  • mkolber

    Any chance of a comparison of TrialPad with the few other exhibit presentation apps out there that are still active. I use the word “active” advisedly; for example, if you go to the main site of one of them, you find every link to information about it (except to the app store to buy it) results in a 404 error; another is so out of date, its TrialPad comparison chart still has an old price. Or is it just TrialPad standing alone these days?

    • Todd has reviewed a few other trial apps:

      MobiLit
      JuryNotes
      Trial Notebook
      JuryPad

    • Todd Hendrickson

      I think Exhibit A is viable, as is Trial Notebook by Tablit. A comparison may be in order, but my informal look at these in the past led me back to TrialPad.

  • Joe DePaola

    Todd: what projector do you use?

    • Todd Hendrickson

      I use a View Sonic with an HDMI to lightning cable, but any good projector with HDMI will work fine. For the typical courtroom situation, at least 3000 lumens is a must.

  • Linda Foster

    Is it possible to move a folder with docs in it to TrialPad via Dropbox. My folder moves, but the docs in it do not.

  • Nelson

    Big feature I need is to be able to “word search” PDF documents in TrialPAd. Anyone know if this feature exists. I’m using ExhibitView now and it does NOT have that feature.