So you are an attorney and you have an Apple iPad – now what?

Attorneys spend their days accumulating paper in client meetings and court appearances. With the iPad, attorneys can leave behind pads of paper and carry a device the size of a day planner to to take notes, mark-up documents, and make presentations. The iPad is more than just Angry Birds and Kindle books: it is a business device that helps you stay organized and better serve clients.

Here is a guide to getting started.

Case:

Protect your investment, especially if you carry it to court. Many attorneys are happy with the Apple iPad 2 Leather Smart Cover or the Apple iPad (iPad 3) Leather Cover and Stand. If you prefer something with a keyboard, I strongly recommend the Zagg Folio for the new iPad.

Stylus:

To take handwritten notes on your iPad, you need a stylus. I recommend a Targus 2 in 1 Stylus + Pen, which I carry, or an Acase 2 in 1 Stylus + Pen.

Email, contacts and calendar:

Click on the Settings app. If you have Gmail, Yahoo, or Aol, go here. If you have Microsoft Exchange, go here or contact your in-house IT professional. Once you enter your account information, your contacts, calendar, and email will appear on your iPad.

Legal apps:

GoodReader ($4.99) …to organize your files.
Dropbox (Free) …to connect your iPad’s files to your computer.
Notability ($0.99) …to transform your iPad into a legal pad.
PlainText (Free) …to type notes anywhere.
PDF Expert ($9.99) …to open, sign and edit .pdf documents.
Documents to Go ($9.99) …to create and edit Microsoft Office documents.
Fastcase (Free) …to perform legal research.
Instapaper ($4.99) …to download and read articles from the web.
FeeddlerPro ($4.99) …to read your Google Reader RSS feed.
Yelp (Free) …to find local restaurants and hotels.
TrialPad ($89.99), ExhibitView ($9.99) or Keynote ($9.99)to make presentations.
Calculator Pro ($0.99) …to crunch numbers.

Store documents:

I recommend storing everything in GoodReader, as I describe here, to organize case files during trial. Rather than shuffling papers at counsel table, which is especially distracting to a judge or jury, GoodReader allows me to save and open multiple file formats (.doc, .pdf, .mp3) within each case file.

A sample case file might include an list of witness questions, deposition transcripts, medical records, case law, audio recordings, and research memos on certain legal issues.

Transfer documents:

I recommend transferring everything with a cloud computing app such as Dropbox, as I describe here, which is a secure, encrypted file server that connects my desktop computer to my iPad via the GoodReader app.

Dropbox is as secure as online banking. You can also transfer documents by email, but it is probably less secure. You can create case matter folders in GoodReader. I also use GoodReader to build a mobile law library.

Every note I write in apps such as PlainText  and Notability sync with Dropbox to capture information as I gather it. Over time, I have accumulated a significant amount of legal reference materials because my notes are stored and organized electronically.

The iPad is a mobile computer that augments, not replaces, your office computer. For that reason, I do not have a remote desktop app, even though it works great for some attorneys. Rather than print a document to be hole-punched into a binder, any case document that I create in my office is sent to my iPad and stored in GoodReader. There is no printing or emailing. The documents simply travel with me as I leave my office for the courthouse.

I carry my iPad to gather notes, stay organized, and research case law while I am meeting with witnesses or conducting trials. Everything is synced via the cloud to my desktop, so I can work on cases from court or at the office.

If you need help getting started, feel free to email me at redean@gmail.com.