Evernote for Lawyers

I agree with Sam,

“Evernote is one of the most awesome bits of software ever made.”

And we’re not the only ones. According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Rob Walker, as of Feb. 2013, “Evernote says it has 50 million users around the world (a third in the U.S.) and is adding 100,000 a day.”

However, because there are so many ways to use it, some folks get overwhelmed as to how to even get started. So, here are some basic tips, resources and a brief review.

Evernote Tips

If you’ve never heard of Evernote, I recommend you head over to Getting Started with Evernote. They cover stuff like installation, account creation, creating notes and setting reminders.

It’s a great place to become familiar with Evernote’s basic functionality, but it’s not as helpful in terms demonstrating the real power of Evernote for productivity, collaboration and workflow.

The Web Clipper

If you have a voracious appetite for online content, you have probably encountered the issue of “saving stuff for later.” The web doesn’t present information to you at your earliest convenience, organized in a way that is likely to make the most sense to you.

This is one of the areas in which Evernote excels.

Obviously, the Evernote Web Clipper is not the only way to save web content. However, because it plays so nicely with Evernote, it’s really one of the most efficient.


Before you go nuts clipping everything you find online, you should spend some time thinking about how you might want to organize your notebooks and tags. If you’re just using Evernote as an unorganized dumping ground, you’re really missing out on a lot of the features that make it so special (see Evernote + GTD below).


In a nutshell, Skitch allows you to easily “mark up” web content you find and send it to Evernote.


The basic Skitch commands allow you to:

  • Draw arrows
  • Annotate with text
  • Box and circle
  • Highlight with: ‘X’, ‘!’, ‘?’, ‘?’, and ‘&#x2661’
  • Pixelate, redact or blur
  • Crop & resize
  • Change colors

You can also use skitch to take screen shots, share content on social networks and, of course, save to Evernote. Skitch is now available for Windows, Android, Mac & iOS.

Evernote + GTD

To me, Evernote is one of the most effective tools for implementing Getting Things Done (GTD). Unfortunately, Evernote isn’t GTD-ready out-of-the-box. And it might not be completely intuitive to you how to configure Evernote for GTD. Fortunately, there are a couple really helpful posts on the subject:

GTD isn’t a rigid system and you shouldn’t feel compelled to configure Evernote exactly as the authors have above. Personally, I borrowed most of my configuration from Ruud Hein’s how-to.

If you think you might want to configure Evernote for GTD, my advice is to first get comfortable with each independently. That way, one it comes time to implementing GTD in Evernote, you’ll have a good understanding of what you really need and how you work.

It’s also worth mentioning that neither GTD nor Evernote are magic productivity bullets. They take a little work to learn, but more importantly, they require forming habits. Which takes time, practice and persistence.

Evernote Product Updates

If you have checked out Evernote in the past and found that it just wasn’t quite there yet, you should check out some of their most recent product updates, especially if you’re an iOS user.

Evernote Premium? Business?

Evernote is free for individuals. However, they also offer paid premium and “for Business” versions.

The premium version adds offline notebooks, passcode lock, increased storage and better search.

The Evernote Business Video Library has several examples of how business people are using the business version at work. Here’s a helpful video from the library from architect Russell Curtis:

Evernote Business is $10.00/user/month. With the business version, users get all the premium features, plus:

  • User & Data Management – to invite, view and manage other users within a business.
  • Business Library – to collect and share information across your business.
  • Better Support – self-explanatory.

Evernote Resources

I’ve include some of the more obvious Evernote resources below. If you’ve found or penned a helpful resource, please don’t hesitate to include below.

The Evernote Knowledge Base

The Evernote Blog

The Trunk


David Allen’s Best Practices Guide for GTD & Evernote

The LAB’s Evernote thread

Lawyers who love Evernote

Evernote for Lawyers Posts

Attorney Andrew Net­tle­man lists Evernote as an app he lives in:

I use Evernote every day and more than any other app I own. The basic version of Evernote is free. Evernote is a conglomeration of a word processor, a checklist app, a photo album, a web clipper and a voice memo app. I write posts for my firm’s blog in Evernote. I wrote this article in Evernote across three days and four counties on my PC, my iPad and my phone. I save web pages and online reference materials with the web clipper. I draft almost every document I create from scratch in Evernote, and I often paste documents into the word processor to use as a template to rework for different clients. The killer feature of Evernote in my estimation is that it automatically syncs to all your connected devices in near real time.

Evernote for Lawyers Guides

  • Rocket Matter’s Free E-Book: Evernote For Lawyers (Free, a good quick overview with some tips)
  • Daniel Gold’s Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Getting Things Done ($5 at posting, I haven’t read, have you?)
  • David M. Ward’s Evernote for Lawyers ($17 at posting, I haven’t read, have you? Here’s one review.)

My Review of Evernote

If my opinion of Evernote is not already obnoxiously apparent, let me put it this way:

Evernote can fundamentally change the way you consume and store web content, organize your workflow and even manage your practice.

It’s one of those tools that is capable of doing a lot of different things really well, but at the same time, stays out of the way of actually doing stuff.

It provides for one of the best cross-device user experiences, period.

Obviously, since Evernote is a cloud service, there are cloud-ethical issues to consider.

Like everything else online, Evernote is not immune to hacks and security issues.

Before deciding whether or how you might use Evernote at your firm, get familiar with their legal info.

Are you using Evernote? If so, how? If not, why not?

I’m especially interested in hearing from folks who are using Evernote in the context of GTD.

Reviewed by Gyi Tsakalakis on Aug 26.
Summary: Probably the most important software I use on a daily basis.
Description: Evernote makes finding, storing and organizing “stuff” simple and efficient. It’s truly remarkable.
Rating: 5


  1. Avatar Sam Glover says:

    As awesome as Evernote is, it is annoyingly difficult to figure out how I should use it.

    One thing I think you missed is that, for all its faults, Evernote is pretty easy to leave. It offers pretty straightforward exporting options that make it easy to get your stuff out if you ever decide to leave. Which means it makes sense to just dive right in and use Evernote for everything to see if you like it.

    • What have you tried to use it to do?

      At one of the spectrum, you have just basic web clipping, screen shots, image annotation and “saving for later.” That seems pretty straightforward. What do you currently use for that now?

      At the other end, if you’re trying to implement a system for productivity and project management, it’s definitely not intuitive.

      I do think it’s particularly useful for GTD. However, if you’re not committed that that system, Evernote probably isn’t the best project management tool for you. Plus, it’s not easy to use as-is. You’ve got to “set it up.”

      Yep. They make it easy to get your feet wet (and dry them off).

      • Avatar Sam Glover says:

        I don’t like Evernote for web clipping. In general, I prefer a Delicious-like solution (I’m using ownCloud on my own server, though).

        It also makes a pretty terrible time-shifting tool for things I want to read later. Instapaper or Pocket are way better.

        It’s not good for to-do lists, either. Remember the Milk is tops for that, in my book.

        And because of all the fancy text formatting, it’s pretty weak for drafting blog posts. I wind up with all kinds of extra returns and funky formatting when I try to copy and paste into WordPress.

        Still, that leaves a lot of uses.

        With or without Hello, Evernote is great for capturing business cards and notes about people. I use it to keep track of the wine, cheese, and booze I like by snapping pictures of labels. I also snap pictures of scales, treadmill screens, blood pressure testers, prescriptions, and other health-related stuff.

        It works awesome for notes, whether they are quick notes I jot down on the index cards I keep with me, or board meeting notes that I scan (with my ScanSnap after I get home).

        I snap pictures of bank deposits and deposit slips, so I can remember what I deposited when I finally get around to balancing the bank accounts.

        I keep notes for home improvements we are planning, and lists of things we want to do but can never remember when we’re looking for something to do (restaurants, bars, parks, etc.).

        And generally for other reference material. There are all kinds of things I need or want to have at my fingertips. With Evernote, they always are, as long as I have my phone with me.

        My only real wish is for a better way to write notes. Typing with my thumbs will never be as easy as jotting down a quick note, and I don’t always want to dictate. I would love a handwritten note option like Evernote used to have. Penultimate just doesn’t do the trick (and isn’t even available on phones).

        • Avatar Paul McGuire says:

          I agree that Evernote doesn’t work as well for task management as others ( I prefer Any.Do) or clipping (I also use Pocket).

          The text editor could be better and scrolling down to the bottom of a note to add something can be a real pain on mobile. I ended up doing a lot of my notes in reverse order, with newer stuff on the top just so I can add new stuff easier.

          I do find it works well for short lists I want to be able to reference later (upcoming movies, upcoming albums) and things that I might forget where I stored them that are easy to find with the proper keyword.

          I do like using Evernote for blog posts though, simply because I can easily edit on mobile and finish on the computer. Google Docs just doesn’t have the same easy access in an actual program outside of the browser.

  2. Avatar Paul Correa says:

    Adding late: I like to dictate a random thought or note into Evernote on my phone and drop it into a file to remind me later. Is there a better app for this? I could email such notes to myself, but then they would not be pre-organizedby topic. I use this both for work and for music and other pursuits. LIke Sam, I find myself using Evernote for the Miscellaneous categories of live stuff as opposed to the work stuff.
    * thanks for this topic btw *

    • Avatar Sam Glover says:

      You can do voice notes right in the Evernote app. These just record and save audio clips, which I think it what you are looking for. I use this sometimes, but I’m usually more interested in text.

      If it’s text you want, you can just use the voice transcription feature of your phone. Even if you’re in too much of a hurry to edit what comes out, you should be able to get the basic idea from whatever Siri or Google spits out.

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