If you thought iPads were just cute gadgets for surfing the web, checking email, watching movies, and reading books, guess again. One Arizona law firm, Fennemore Craig, is using the iPad to revolutionize the way it does business, creating a much more efficient, seamless way of practicing law—and saving money and precious resources in the process.
One of the most important features of the iPad is that it allows the firm to go paperless. Instead of having multiple copies of documents and trial exhibits, which can amount to tens of thousands of pieces of paper (and tens of thousands of dollars), the lawyers have the documents and information stored on their iPad. They bring these iPads with them to court, mediation sessions and other meetings, including with adversaries. The iPad makes the documents easily accessible and organizes them in a clear and concise way. Also, unlike a traditional computer, the lawyers do not have to wait for the iPad to boot up. They turn it on and immediately gain access to the documents and information they need. Once a case is completed, the information is archived-no more need to pay for costly storage space for the mountain of paperwork traditionally generated by a case.
Fennemore Craig does not keep the iPads just for their own lawyers’ use. Its personal injury division, for example, lends out the iPads to their clients during a case. These iPads provide a direct link between the parties, making it easy for the clients to stay in touch with their lawyers and to provide their attorneys with the necessary information for the case such as photos, videos and signed documents. Clients also use the iPads to contact their attorneys, either via e-mail or remotely via the FaceTime app or Skype. This is a huge benefit for personal injury clients who might be physically incapable of making the trip to their attorneys’ office.
Another feature of the iPad that the firm puts to creative use is the ability to make videos. The personal injury attorneys create videos to present the facts of the case to opposing attorneys, mediators, insurance adjusters and others involved in the case. These videos are created in the firm. They combine videotaped interviews, photos, diagrams, expert witness information and computer generated imagery (the ‘CGI’ many a Hollywood director has used to create special effects) to present a picture of the incident. Traditionally, attorneys send a letter to opposing attorneys, insurance adjusters or mediators to present his or her position in a case. With the iPad, the lawyer is able to present the story through a video/photo montage which is much more effective at telling the story of the case.
Furthermore, any information the firm sends on their iPad is easily accessible without any of the usual problems of document incompatibility. Traditionally, if one sent out a document, e.g. via e-mail, whose format was not compatible with the receiver’s software, the recipient could not access the document. That is no longer an issue at Fennemore Craig. The firm sends out the iPad with the information and documentation stored inside. Hence, the recipient is able to immediately access the information by opening up the iPad. It’s that simple.
There are several apps the lawyers use to assist them in litigation, both in and out of the courtroom. One notable app is the iAnnotate PDF. This app allows the lawyers to make changes and corrections to PDF documents, add highlights and notations and create a record of digital signatures on documents and releases. Another app that is put to good use is the iJuror which helps the attorneys during the jury selection process.
The iPads also play a central role in the courtroom. They are connected to media systems with individual screens which enables the jurors, judges, and opposing attorneys to see their presentations and exhibits. It encourages the jurors to be more engaged in the trial instead of tuning out– as so often happens when they have to sit through endless hours of verbal testimony.
Using the iPad in their personal injury practice has resulted in concrete benefits for Fennemore Craig. The lawyers claim that the iPad is helping them win cases and settle cases more quickly, and it is helping them get better results for their clients. The iPad presents the evidence in a concise, powerful way which gives them an advantage over opposing attorneys. It makes them better advocates for their clients. Moreover, because the iPad makes the attorneys more efficient, they are able to handle more cases than ever before.