Attorneys Turn to iPads to Prepare and Question Experts
Reprinted with permission.
BullsEye: November 2011
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Attorneys Turn to iPads to Prepare and Question Experts
by Robert Ambrogi
Attorneys who lug around bankers’ boxes stuffed with exhibits may soon seem like Luddites
given the growing popularity of the iPad at depositions and trials. Increasingly, trial attorneys
are using iPads to prepare and question witnesses – and the devices are particularly well suited
to working with and examining expert witnesses.
William H. Latham, a litigation partner
at Nelson Mullins in Columbia, S.C., uses the iPad both to prepare his own expert witnesses
and to cross-examine his opponents’ experts. “My practice is national in scope, and I am often
on the road preparing witnesses for deposition, hearing or trial testimony,” Latham writes at
his blog, The Hytech Attorney. “This
typically involves reviewing dozens if not hundreds of documents with the various witnesses.
Prior to the iPad, that often meant lugging around two or more bankers boxes all over the country.
Instead of multiple bankers’ boxes, Latham takes two iPads, each loaded with the documents he
needs. He sanitizes one iPad of any sensitive legal documents or information and gives that
one to the witness, while he shows the same documents on his own iPad2. “The attorney’s iPad2
will be connected to a projection device or monitor allowing the attorney to annotate or highlight
documents and discuss them with the witness.”
Robert J. Ambrogi is a Massachusetts lawyer who represents clients at the intersection
of law, media and technology. A news media veteran, he is the only person ever to hold the
top editorial positions at the two leading national U.S. legal newspapers, the National
Law Journal and Lawyers Weekly USA. He is also internationally known for his writing
and blogging about the Internet and technology.
“The iPad is a great tool for keeping and
showing the expert documents, video clips, etc., just as it is with jurors and colleagues,”
agrees R. David Donoghue, a trial attorney at Holland & Knight in Chicago. He regularly
uses his iPad with experts, but cautions that if the attorney is not using a dual iPad set-up
such as Latham does, to be careful not to expose any privileged content on the iPad to the expert.
Ideal Device for Presenting Evidence
Peter Summerill, author of
the blog MacLitigator, believes the
iPad is the ideal device for presenting evidence at trial. “Apple has created a product which
facilitates presentation of evidence without getting in the way and does so in a completely
unassuming fashion,” he says. “The iPad sits low and is the perfect size to place next to a
legal pad or other notes while at the podium.”
Not only is the iPad unobtrusive, but
it can make the presentation of complex forensic evidence appear seamless. Morgan Smith, a attorney
who helps other attorneys integrate graphics into their trial presentations, recently wrote
Cogent Legal Blog about a mock trial between two masters of the trial bar – one armed with
an iPad, the other with a yellow pad.
The case turned on the presentation of complicated
forensic accident reconstruction evidence. The plaintiff created computer models simulating
the accident and presented the slides using an iPad and a program called Keynote Remote. When
the mock trial ended, the judge cited the plaintiff’s presentation as an example of a well-done,
seamless use of technology.
“Using the iPad with Keynote allows the attorney to have
a visual of both the slide that is up on the screen and the next slide that is coming up, which
helps greatly for smooth transitions,” Smith says. “Keynote also allows the presenter to have
notes visible on the iPad – sort of like mini index cards on the bottom of the iPad screen and
visible to no one but the presenter – so the attorney can refer to the notes as needed. Swiping
the iPad screen moves the presentation from one slide to the next one.”
an expert witness to testify, Tom Mighell, author of the blog
iPad 4 Attorneys and of the
ABA book, iPad in One Hour for Attorneys, recommends an app called GoodReader. “You can organize
folders for your expert, to put specific types of records into specific types of files,” he
explains. “If you want, the expert can annotate the documents – add notes for you to read later,
or other comments.”
While many attorneys are enthusiastic about the iPad as a trial tool,
not everyone is gung-ho. Ted Brooks, a trial presentation consultant in San Francisco who writes
the Court Technology and Trial
Presentation Blog, says he would use an iPad to present at trial “only if there were some
compelling reason to do so.” He still prefers to have the power of a laptop and to use tried-and-true
“The trials I work on are generally larger matters, which
would introduce unnecessary risks and challenges, all at the expense of looking cool,” he says.
“Those attorneys who actually use it in trial are generally working alone on smaller cases,
which would be fine.”
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