Now that I’ve had a chance to use an iPad, I’m quite sure that lawyers will find a way to use it in their practice. The iPad won’t replace laptops or desktop computers for businesses. Rather, it will provide lawyers with flexibility and allow them to practice law more efficiently by ultimately saving them time and money.
That being said, in my opinion, the iPad is primarily a media consumption device, rather than a device for content creation. For that reason, I mainly envision lawyers using iPads to keep up on their practice areas by reading blogs and online articles or using it at trial or at a deposition to cross a witness in lieu of flipping through deposition transcripts or stacks of papers.
However, it does have some potential for content creation and will become increasingly more useful as firmware updates improve iPads and as more third party applications are released which will facilitate the ability to create and edit documents.
In the meantime, there are already some apps available that will allow lawyers to use their iPads to annotate PDF documents, something not accomplished easily while on the road using other types of devices, since neither laptops nor smart phones are well suited to those types of document annotations. This ability to annotate PDFs is will facilitate tasks such as marking up a pleading or contract, making notations in the margins to a draft appellate brief, or commenting on an internal memorandum.
Apps currently available that allow PDF annotation include:
- Zosh ( iPhone app only. According to the CEO, an iPad app is in the works and additional annotation features will soon be added-$2.99)
- School Notes Pro (Free iPad app that allows importing and sharing PDFs and ability to include voice notes directing your assistant what to do with the annotated document upon receipt)
- Writepad (iPad app that includes handwriting recognition features and allows annotation and sharing of PDF documents-$9.99)
- Aji iAnnotate (iPad app that allows PDF annotation and sharing-$6.99)
Use of a stylus may make these apps even more appealing to lawyers. There are a few styluses available that may suit your needs and more are surely to be released, created just for iPads, in the near future:
- The POGO stylus
- The Universal Touch Screen Stylus (Not yet available in the US, but can be purchased on eBay)
- The DAGI Stylus (Not yet available in the US, but can be purchased on eBay)
Finally, there is no shortage of information regarding how lawyers can use iPads in their practice, including these blogs:
(photo: Jesus Belzunce)