I am writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA. As I prepared to write the book, I researched different software programs that would make it easier for me to organize my thoughts and keep all of my information readily accessible as I wrote. I ultimately settled on Scrivener (Mac only update: now available for Windows).

At its website, Scrivener is described as:

(A) word processor and project management tool created specifically for writers of long texts such as novels and research papers. It won’t try to tell you how to write – it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.

I have found it to be an invaluable tool that is making the process of writing and organizing the information I’ve collected about cloud computing so much simpler and streamlined.

As I was using it the other day, it occurred to me that I would have loved a program like this when I was a civil litigator. Scrivener could easily make the process of writing and organizing a Summary Judgment motion so simple.

I’ve always been a very visual person, especially when writing motions. I used to find myself getting so frustrated as I flipped through stacks of papers, trying to find a certain document, case or exhibit. Complex cases with large numbers of documents, deposition transcripts and exhibits were particularly difficult to manage. Scrivener, or a program like it, would have made the process so much easier.

To begin with, each portion of the motion, from the Notice of Motion to the supporting affidavits and the legal memorandum could be treated as a “chapter,” which is simply a folder within the document.  The next step is to associate supportive documentation (exhibits, cases, etc.) with each section of your motion. So when you’re viewing that document, there is a list of associated files alongside of it which can be opened with a click. The associated files can be text files, image files, websites, audio files, or even video files.

In other words, you could create separate documents which contain the texts of cases that you plan to use in your memorandum and then link the cases to the specific sections in the memorandum where you plan to refer to them. One nice feature of this system is that you can link, or associate, the same case with different sections of memorandum, if you intend to refer to it more than once for different legal principles.

You could also scan exhibits into your system and associate them with the affidavits to which they will be attached. Likewise, deposition transcripts, many of which are now provided in digital format, can also be associated with a section and are then readily accessible. Cutting and pasting testimony into an affidavit or memorandum is thus all the more simple when using Scrivener.

You can test drive Scrivener using their 30-day trial, which allows you to use it for 30 separate days, as opposed to offering you a 30 day time frame in which to test it.

So give it a try and let me know how it works for you. I’m very interested in your feedback.