Advice for Lawyers Looking to Buy a New iPad

An iPad can be a great tool for Lawyers. Here are some good tips from today’s Atkinson-Baker Depo.com.

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Advice for Lawyers Looking to Buy a New iPad
By Jeff Richardson, iPhoneJD.com

I cannot count how many times an attorney at my law firm has told me that he or she wants to get an iPad and wants advice on what to get and then what apps and accessories to get. With over 250 lawyers at my firm, lately I’ve been getting this question at least once a week, so much so that I find myself sending essentially the same e-mail every time.

I thought about this recently when I saw that Virginia attorney Rob Dean wrote a great post on his WalkingOffice site called “New iPad? Start Here.” I am sending a version of my e-mail to one of my partners today, so I thought I would share that e-mail with the rest of you. If you have any other good recommendations for attorneys who are first time iPad users, I’d love to hear them.

Dear ________,

The first thing you need to decide is what model to get. I recommend that most people get the 16GB version of the iPad 2, either Wi-Fi only ($499) or Wi-Fi + 3G ($629). You really only need the more expensive 32GB or the 64GB versions if you plan to put a lot of movies on the iPad (each movie takes about 1.2GB) to watch while you are on a plane. My guess is that you won’t do that — at least not enough that you need more than 16GB. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you want to get a model with 3G in it. My guess is that you will mostly use the iPad at your house or at work where you already have Wi-Fi and don’t need 3G. Keep in mind that if you get the 3G version, you’ll also have to pay a monthly fee for the service.

You should also get the Apple Smart Cover for the iPad 2, which costs either $39 or $59. The more expensive model is leather, which I have and like, but both models are fine, and it really comes down to what color you want. If you want the black one that I have, you’ll need to get the more expensive model.

Once you have the iPad, you’ll need to configure it to work with our law firm. Our tech support folks can handle that for you so that you get all of your e-mail, contacts and calendar entries on your iPad.

Once you get it, and after you have gotten used to it, you’ll want to download some apps for it. You can do that right on the iPad itself using the “App Store” app. Here is a list of good apps that you might want to consider:

Citrix Receiver — this one is free, and it allows you to connect to the firm’s network and control a virtual computer. While the iPhone can handle your regular e-mail just fine, you can use the Citrix app to run Outlook on your iPad and then do everything else you can do with Outlook, such as access files in the firm’s document management system. Citrix is also a handy way to access our firm’s accounting system.

GoodReader — this app is $5, and it is great for organizing files, especially PDF files. So much of my life is PDF files right now, and this gives me a way to store documents on my iPad in folders so that I always have documents I need with me — briefs, contracts, etc.

Dragon Dictation — this free app allows you to dictate a short message. You speak a few sentences, then it translates into text, then you tap one button and can send an e-mail. Often much faster than typing with your fingers on the screen.

Fastcase — free app that lets you enter a cite and pull up a case or statute. Sort of like a free version of Westlaw or Lexis for the iPad.

Documents to Go — although you can easily read a Word file on the iPad without buying any extra apps, I usually prefer to read Word documents using Documents to Go. This $10 app displays the document with a larger font, can show the footnotes, and can even show redline edits (although unfortunately it doesn’t let you create redline edits; I hope that they add this feature soon). You can also use this app to edit a Word file and to view or edit an Excel file. There is also a $17 premium version of this app which adds the ability to edit PowerPoint files and use online services like Google Docs or Dropbox. My guess is that the $10 version is all that you need.

The Weather Channel — good, free app for checking the weather.

ESPN SportsCenterXL — free app, great for sports scores.

If you want to use your iPad as a legal pad and take notes on it, you’ll need two things. First, you’ll need a stylus. They cost between $8 and $25. The one that I am using right now is called the Kensington Virtuoso. It costs $20 and also includes a regular pen. You can get it at Amazon. Second, you’ll need an app that lets you draw on the screen. The two apps I recommend are either Penultimate, good for short notes, or Note Taker HD if you want to take longer notes. Then you can e-mail the notes to yourself as PDF files to store them on your computer or in our firm’s document management system.

If you want to use your iPad as a laptop replacement to write documents, such as typing notes in a meeting, it can be useful to buy a Bluetooth keyboard. I have the one that Apple makes which costs $69, but any Bluetooth keyboard will work. And then you want a good word processor program. You can use Documents to Go, the app I mentioned above, to write Word documents. Another alternative is an app that Apple makes called Pages. It costs $10 and works well.

If you ever work with attorneys or courts who send you documents created with WordPerfect, the iPad doesn’t know how to view those files on its own. You can purchase an app called WordPerfect Viewer that can view those apps. It is $6.

The iPad doesn’t come with a calculator app. I recommend Digits because it has large, easy to read and use buttons. It costs $2.

If you want to have fun, of course there are tens of thousands of games. I like Scrabble and Angry Birds. Your kids can probably recommend lots of other great ones to you.

That will get you started. If you want to learn more, I recommend that you read my iPhone J.D. website (scroll down on home page). You can even have it delivered to your e-mail for free every time I write a new post; just enter your email on this page.

Enjoy your new iPad. You are going to love it!

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