iPad at Trial: “like an extra monitor that does stuff”

Posted on July 10, 2010 | by Eric

If you’ve been wondering if this “magical” tablet is something you’d like to add to your on-site arsenal as a technology consultant, wonder no more, because I just spent a month on-site with one.

Everyone has their theoretical and practical business reasons to get one.  I got one because whenever I tried to watch movies or read on the iPhone I’d think “this would be a whole lot cooler right now if it had a way bigger screen.”

So did it alter my life at trial in ways I’d never imagined?  Nah.  But it was really cool and convenient for a couple of reasons.

Beyond being everything you’d expect in an e-reader, movie viewer and game system for flights and hotel rooms (Hey Hilton, you can cram your $15 movies!), it actually ended up being a worthwhile addition to the trial site.

War Room Use

For starters, I always use two monitors (laptops and at least a 20″ LCD).  The iPad was like an extra monitor that does stuff.  Using it to read e-mails and play music (at a reasonable volume between nine and eleven) in particular gave me back some screen real estate and allowed me to run fewer programs on the laptop.

But the coolest part was that it cut down on printing.  Not enough to earn a Jr. Forest Ranger Badge or affect sales over at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin (a Sabre Company), but it was a start.  E-mailed PDF’s that I’d normally print to follow instructions while using both regular monitors could be opened in either GoodReader or now in iBooks.  Goodreader will open more formats like Word Docs and RTF files.  But, it refused to open a Word Perfect doc.  This leads me to say…seriously?  Word Perfect?  You crazy law firms are adorable with your Word Perfect.  Is it compatible with Windows 95 after you did the upgrade last month?

The most remarkable thing I found myself doing was transferring documents that I’d generally print to walk down the hall to ask about or have reviewed.  If you have a free Dropbox account and the iPad app, it’s as easy as dropping your docs into a folder on your laptop and they just appear in the app (or on any other machine that has the folders shared, it’s essentially the simplest FTP interface that I’ve seen in a long time).  With that nice bright screen and the ability to zoom around on the docs, the team loved using it in this way.  They always would touch my dang monitor anyway, at least now I don’t have to be all mad about it.

Courtroom Use

It was positively flawless for courtroom presentation.  We used Keynote for iPad on direct and cross for every witness!  I’ve never moved through a trial more efficiently and quickly!!  Amazing and a truly magical advancement in courtroom technology.

In your dreams that happened. Never say never, but it’s obviously not even close to ready for something like that yet.  I did read somewhere a lawyer claiming he did a whole trial on an iPad.  A whole trial.  So while I’m super proud of him for getting himself interviewed because of it, I’m obligated to call shenanigans.  SHENANIGANS!

I have that Keynote app, it’s okay, but it’s not trial presentation software.  Openings/Closings, sure, use it.  Direct exam?  Maybe, but a very inefficient way of prepping the documents.  Cross?  No freaking way.  Unless you’re just determined to send a clear message to your laptop that it’s “on notice”, there’s no reason to even consider this.  Would you attempt to use PowerPoint  to get to your full population of docs and transcripts during a cross, but with less flexibility?  If yes, go for it with the iPad, someone will ask you to talk about it and they’ll write down what you say.  They may even put a picture of you smiling in a suit in an official setting holding your device.  Then I’ll read the article with a confused look on my face (it’s subtle, but it is different from my normal look).  Burdened with the heavy knowledge of how trial presentation actually works.

That said, I’m sure the de facto presentation hardware for court will end up being something smaller, flatter, sexier and presently unthinkable.

For now, an iPad is a cool toy you can train to do some work stuff for you.  It’s so choice, if you have the means, I’d highly recommend picking one up.

Also, I wrote this post on it.

Hide 2 Comments | Submit Comment
      July 10th, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

      Charles Perez (TrialPesentationBlog.com) said:

      Terrific post!
      I enjoyed your candid look at the iPad in the courtroom. I agree, not happening right now, but, in due time I’m sure someone will see the market potential and create an effective app for it.
      It’s natures way of natural selection and evolution.
      Soon my friend, soon.

      July 27th, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

      Eric said:

      Thanks Charles. It was actually just pointed out to me that we’re getting closer already (time moves much faster than it used to for sure). I’ve seen a few “presentation clicker” apps that haven’t worked very well, but initial testing shows Senstic’s i-Clickr looking okay so far, if you’re looking to remotely control PPT, never minding the App Store reviews. It’s not running the presentation from the device, and right now this one is designed for the iPhone, but we’re getting there. I’m sure soon enough they’ll figure out a great way to use the iPad screen real estate. This is already easier to set up than any electronic alternative to see previews and notes (meaning anything beyond printing a set). Here’s the link. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/i-clickr-powerpoint-remote/id296956937?mt=8