Although trials are where a litigator’s talents and skills are most visible to the public, any litigator worth their salt knows that cases are won and lost in deposition (and they tend to happen a LOT more often than trials). Yet, in spite of this fact, most of the attention given to mobile apps for attorneys discusses how useful those apps will be at trial. When I looked for opinions about the essential iPad apps for depositions, it was pretty slim pickings. As a litigator, I know that even though I absolutely love trying cases to a jury, most of my time will be spent preparing for, and taking, depositions.
With that in mind, I give you my list of 8 essential iPad apps for depositions:
#1. iAnnotate PDF (Branchfire, $9.99)
Without question, iAnnotate PDF is the center of any deposition I take. With a deposition outline converted to PDF, and usually imported into my iPad through Dropbox or email, iAnnotate PDF allows me to take notes right on my outline without worrying about cluttering the page with handwritten notes, and without having to flip back and forth through a 17 page outline.
The annotation features allow me to enter notes quickly into one category, then minimize those notes into a small icon on the page. Different options for the annotations allow me to distinguish between responses that I felt were sufficient and those that were either incomplete or raised new issues I had not anticipated. Bookmarks allow me to quickly navigate to different sections of my outline (for those rare occasions when the witness decides they want to answer a different question than I asked).
Most importantly, multiple exporting options allow me to store copies of my deposition outline in a format that can be edited later, or a flat format to preserve my notes exactly how they were taken down. iAnnotate PDF completely changed the way I conduct my depositions.
#2. Med Words (Elsevier Inc, $27.99)
Given that my practice consists mostly of insurance defense cases, particularly motor vehicle negligence and medical malpractice, the medical issues of the case tend to be one of, if not the, central disputed issues in the case.
Whether I need to be prepared to depose the plaintiff, a family member, a treating physician, or an expert witness, it is absolutely essential that I have a complete command of all the medical aspects of the case. While the Physicians Desk Reference is probably my preferred source when I’m in my office, MedWords is the best mobile source of quick medical information that I’ve been able to find. Since the reference is contained completely within the app itself, no internet connection is required, and your queries are not dependent on the slow Wi-Fi that your opponent steals from the nearby Starbucks. An incredibly handy tool, it’s a must-have in cases where medical issues are in question.
You may also like: Medscape (WebMD, free)
#3. Penultimate (Evernote, free)
For those of us that still prefer taking notes the Legal-Pad way, there’s Penultimate. Add in a stylus, and Penultimate, with Evernote functionality built in, serves as your best bet to replace the legal pad in deposition.
With the ability to convert any notes into PDF, or even as an email in your own handwriting, Penultimate allows anyone to keep a digital copy of their legal notes in the exact form they’re taken, without the hassle of feeding those pages torn from your legal pad through a scanner one-by-one.
Possibly the best feature that Penultimate offers for an attorney in deposition is that the user can use the app not only to write text-based notes, but to draw images and diagrams, just as would be possible on paper. Imagine asking the deponent to draw where on the road his vehicle was when he first saw the defendant, and with three taps that image gets emailed to the plaintiff’s attorney and the court reporter to include the diagram as an exhibit to the deposition.
You may also like: Notability (Ginger Labs, $2.99)
#4. JotNot Scanner Pro (MobiTech 3000 LLC, $0.99)
A high-quality image conversion app, JotNot Scanner Pro allows the user to take photos of documents to be immediately converted into PDF files. Perfect for memorializing exhibits in electronic format, and with Evernote integration for easy cloud-based storage, JotNot Scanner Pro guarantees that you’ll never be left wondering what an exhibit looked like when it was handed to the court reporter in that last deposition you took.
Simple and easy to use, it’s nearly impossible to beat the $0.99 price for such an excellent product.
#5. Westlaw Case Notebook Portable eTranscript (Thompson Reuters, free)
There are plenty of deposition transcript apps out there, and many of them provide excellent tools for viewing, highlighting and organizing deposition transcripts. I personally use iAnnotate PDF for pretty much any transcript that I have in PDF format, partially because I’m just so used to the interface.
However, as most litigators are aware, those eTranscripts frequently are delivered in .ptx format, which was actually the initial motivating factor for me downloading this app. Once I did, I found that many of the tools that I used in iAnnotate PDF to mark up depositions were not only available, but actually considerably easier to use in the Portable eTranscript. With the ability to import and export electronic depositions via email, Dropbox and iTunes, AND with direct connection capabilities with Westlaw Case Notebook’s full desktop software, the Portable eTranscript will be useful to any litigator.
#6. Circus Ponies Notebook (Circus Ponies Software, $29.99)
Anyone who has used Circus Ponies Notebook knows how difficult it is to succinctly describe how beneficial it can be to a litigator. Organize entire case files, store and collect digital versions of important exhibits and documents, take notes on important strategies and impressions from the performance of the latest witness, annotate documents and dictate audio notes. It’s all here.
For the litigator whose firm does not use one of the massive (and massively expensive) matter management services to organize cases, Circus Ponies Notebook is an indispensable tool for organizing everything you need for a case. Considerably cheaper than its made-for-attorneys counterpart TabLit Trial Notebook, Circus Ponies Notebook is a marvelous tool for attorneys at firms of any size, and on any kind of budget.
You may also like: TabLit Trial Notebook (TabLit Applications, $69.99)
#7. iTestimony (Scott Falbo, $9.99)
Although iTestimony is not designed specifically for use during deposition, the unique tools that it provides to users looking to keep information regarding the witnesses in a case led me to include the app here.
Designed by the makers of iJuror, iTestimony allows you to keep information about all the witnesses in a case in one handy location, including the ability to sort by whose witness it is, how helpful/harmful the witness is to your case, and whether you have anything you need to follow up on with the witness. As one review of the app said, iTestimony doesn’t do much, but it’s good at what it does.
#8. LinkedIn Card Munch (LinkedIn, free)
Yes, I know that this app has virtually nothing to do with taking or defending a deposition. It won’t help you plan your deposition questions, research important topics, strategize about a deposition’s importance, store digitized copies of exhibits, or allow you to find all of the “smoking gun” portions of a deponent’s testimony.
So why is it included here? Because I have NEVER ONCE been to a deposition where business cards were not exchanged, and I have NEVER ONCE remembered where the hell I put those business cards once I got back to my office. Provided you are a user of LinkedIn (and if you’re an attorney, there’s apparently a 98% chance) you should have this app, and use it frequently. By taking a quick photo of any business card with your phone, LinkedIn will provide you with a digital business card that you can import into Apple contacts, MS Outlook, or even your LinkedIn account.
To think of all the names I would have remembered from those huge depositions! (Oh, and I probably don’t need to remind you also how helpful it can be, especially in those “rush job” situations, to know EXACTLY who the court reporter is!)
The Deponent (Majority Opinion LLC, $9.99)
A slick app that stores about 300 potential questions for depositions, it really isn’t all that useful for any attorney who has a few depositions under her belt.
Timeline 3D (BEEDOCS, $9.99)
A really cool app for assembling a timeline of events that can be used both for strategy and for presentation at trial. Were I discussing useful apps for jury trials, this entry would merit more than “honorable mention.”
eDepo (Seelbach Teknologi LLC, free)
My justification for not including this app is my lack of any direct experience with it, but it certainly looks sweet. Allowing remote access to libraries of depositions, this app is primarily designed to make the most out of video depositions.
Ok, you’ve seen my list of essential iPad apps for depositions. Did I miss any?
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