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Hammers to Nail Guns: The Contrast between Yellow Pad and iPad

iPad wordmark.

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The other day in court one of my fellow attorneys asked me about my iPad.  He wanted to know what the big deal was and if it would help him.  I knew that he had a background in carpentry, so I told him the best way to describe what the iPad has done for my practice was the hammer vs. nail gun analogy.  His yellow legal pad was a hammer and my iPad was a nail gun.  I saw a flash in his eyes and I knew he finally got it. He then said he was going to go get one that day.

I told me that was great, but he probably needed to get a few other things first and rework his work flow.  For the iPad to have the best impact on your practice you should already be paperless or at least semi paperless.

So here is a list of things I told him that would be needed to really amp up his workflow.  This list is short and sweet and to the point and not all inclusive but it will get you on the road to paperless.

  • Buy a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500.   Actually buy more than one!  Every attorney and secretary should have one on their desk.  The Scansnap is the best desktop scanner period and it comes with a free copy of Adobe Standard which is a key piece of software.  Rule number one is every piece of paper you touch has two options, trash or scan.
  • Download Dropbox and use it.  This will make iPad integration seamless.
  • Sign up for an RSS feed of Lawyerist and read every post on going paperless.
  • Download Evernote and use it.  I take pictures of a lot of documents that I need for reference with my phone using Evernote.
  • Sync whatever desktop calendar program you are using to Google Calendar.
  • He was using Outlook for tasks management.  I told him that was fine but to open a  toodledo account and sync it with outlook using the Chromatic Dragon free tool.

I then told him that once all the items above where in place his workflow would be vastly improved even without an iPad.  I use all the above with my android phone and had a huge increase in productivity.

Now he would be ready to get an iPad and integrate it into his workflow.  I then gave him an overview of the apps I use on a daily basis on the iPad.

  • A toodledo account will open up all kinds of possibilities for iPad apps.  I use toodledo’s iPad app Toodledo – To Do List as well as Pocket Informant HD which syncs with toodledo and Google Calendar.
  • iAnnotate and GoodReader are two must have app for  attorneys.   I use both in preparation for depositions, at depositions and in Court.  I love iAnnotate because of its tab display.
  • iAnnotate is also  good for review  medical records.  You can make your annotations right on the pdf file.
  • Plain Text app is a simple text editor that can be used to draft documents and has full Dropbox integration.  I have actually found that the process of writing flows better in Plain Text than in Word.
  • Dragon Dictation has a great fee app that allows you to speak and instantly see your text or email messages on the iPad just like its desktop program.
  • The Keynote app is an excellent presentation app and a lot easier to learn than PowerPoint.
  • Google mobile app gives you all your Google web apps at your fingertips.
  • Notes Plus is the app I use to take most of my daily notes.  I email them to myself in pdf format then file them in the appropriate Dropbox folder.  Notes Plus also has a voice recorder that syncs to your notes by page.  There are some other good note taking apps for the iPad.  Noteshelf, Note Taker HD, Penultimate and smartNote are all note taking apps I have on my iPad and use in different ways.

As I ended the conversation I pointed out that the real power of the iPad for lawyers is the ability to have your complete reference library with you at all times.  I have always kept a PDF law reference file and a form file with CLE materials, outlines and other articles I collect online.  This can be done with iBook which lets you put PDF files into the app.   The Kindle app as well as iAnnotate and Goodreader are also great for reading reference materials.  The amount of professional reading I have accomplished since getting my iPad is 10 times what I could have done without it.

By the end of our conversation, my friend threw down his hammer and was headed out to get his new nail gun.

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6 responses to “Hammers to Nail Guns: The Contrast between Yellow Pad and iPad

  1. Tim – great post. Love the analogy. I’m also a huge Evernote + Dropbox + GoodReader + Dragon Dictation fan. I downloaded Notes Plus though after reading your post. It seems much better than Penultimate in so many ways. Quick question for you though – how are you incorporating Notes Plus with Evernote? I sent a couple pages of my handwritten notes to Evernote and … well … doctors & lawyers have the same type of penmanship, so it had some difficulty understanding my gibberish. Thanks for any tips you may have!

    • Timothy Belcher

      Daniel,
      Thanks for the comment. I email my notesplus notes to evernote to my @GTD-Inbox Notebook and to the dropbox client file to which they belong. For instance, I keep a DRE (daily record of events) it definitely goes to evernote to process.
      I have also noticed that my note taking has gotten more legible since I got a Boxwave stylus. Also, use the zoom feature in Notesplus. That also keeps the notes legible.

  2. Thanks, Tim! Great – I just bought a new Pogo Sketch stylus and now I’ll need to look into the Boxwave!! 🙂 Cheers!

  3. Tim,
    Have you updated to Note taker HD 5.1?

    Among the many new features, it has a dedicated website http://www.notetakerhd.com with online Help.

    More details available upon request.

    Looking forward to your feedback.

    Janet Falk

  4. Tim,
    Any feedback on the updated version of Note Taker HD?

    Janet

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