As previously described, we are as “paperless” a law firm as we possibly can be. As a result, most of our documentation is sent and received in a pdf format. We need to make this documentation functional and capable of being organized.
Approximately 3 years ago I leased a Dell XT tablet computer figuring that I would be able to mark up documents easily. However, the XP format was often unstable and the ability to mark documents was tedious. There were system crashes, documents that would not save correctly, screens would freeze, etc. As a result, I stopped using the tablet altogether. Then the iPad came out and, after using it as an e-reader, playing games on it and using it as a browser/email client, I began researching how it would work as a productivity tool for an attorney. From that research and through trial and error, the device has an immediate place and an immediate impact in the practice of law.
There is a reason lawyers use “legal pads” and that is because we constantly write notes. Part of the reason that I got the Dell XT was so that I could keep running notes in an individual file which is why I liked Microsoft OneNote. However, it wasn’t very functional because of the XP instability. Fortunately, the iPad gives you the tools to electronically store notes.
Bamboo Paper (from Wacom) is a free app until the end of June. With a stylus (I use the Rocketfish Advanced Series), Bamboo intuitively and accurately captures handwriting in a format that looks like my notes on a legal pad. There is virtually no lag time between the use of the stylus in relation to the appearance of the print. The same is true if you wrote with your finger. It is easy to change pens and colors (just hold your finger or stylus down on the screen and you can change color and point size) and you have the ability to email pages as images or you can convert the notebook to a pdf. There is enormous potential in this program but I have two significant complaints. First, the app does not allow for the creation of an additional notebook. I am sure this is a temporary issue but it won’t have any meaningful function to me if I can’t create separate notebooks for each case/client. If this doesn’t change, I will have to use a different app which I will address in a future blog post. Next, the program limits you to the width and dimension of the screen. It doesn’t scroll down. Thus, you are likely to have multiple pages of notes, especially because it is very difficult to confine handwriting with your finger or a stylus to a small space (though the app does allow you to enlarge or shrink an area which, in turn, affects the size of your writing). In other words, if you don’t enlarge the print area, then there is the distinct possibility of only having 10 or so lines of text on the page before it needs to be flipped to a new one. This would create for a large notebook even if you selected the thinnest point size.
Bamboo Paper has potential but the most glaring omission is the inability to create different notebooks. If Wacom fixes this, it is probably something I can use every day.