Last week, I shared a story from Austin appellate attorney Todd Smith about how he uses an iPad for appellate arguments. One of the responses that I received was from Scott Bassett, a family law appellate attorney in Michigan. Scott has practiced law for 35 years, and during that time has briefed and argued many appeals. He has also taught at three law schools: Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, FL, the University of Michigan Law School, and Wayne State University Law School in Detroit.
Scott uses Windows in his law practice (as do I) and Scott's first Apple device was the iPad 2 in 2011. He has since upgraded to a refurbished 4th gen iPad with Verizon 3, and he often uses it as a second screen for his Microsoft Surface Book using the Duet Display app. Although Scott had been a long-time Android user, a few weeks ago he bought his first iPhone, an iPhone 7 Plus.
Scott reached out to share with me and iPhone J.D. readers how he is using his iPad in his appellate practice:
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When I use my iPad for oral argument, I use the Oral Argument app by TabLit Apps. You reviewed it on June 14, 2012. You were underwhelmed. I actually like the app, but would not do any of the prep work and editing on the iPad itself. Instead, I get all of my notes, arguments, and pop-up boxes into the app by syncing it from the browser interface on my PC. I am not sure if that feature was available when you reviewed the app four years ago.
[UPDATE 11/15/16 from Jeff: The Oral Argument app is no longer available in the App Store. The developer tells me that the app was pulled because it was never updated for iOS 10 and therefore is not 100% functional. But the developer is considering an update to the app, so perhaps the app will return in the future.]
Using the browser interface (I go to the Oral Argument web site and log in with my account credentials), I can quickly copy and paste case law quotes, statutes, notes, and arguments from my briefs directly into the app. When I am done, I open the app on my iPad and click the sync button. My entire argument from the web interface is then available on my iPad. I also have the briefs and other key documents loaded into the iAnnotate app on my iPad for quick tab-based access. I have always preferred iAnnotate to GoodReader and other PDF reader/annotation apps on the iPad.
I have also experimented with two other devices for use at the podium during appeal arguments. They are the Sony Digital Paper (think giant Kindle) and the detached screen of my Microsoft Surface Book laptop. Both provide larger displays than my 4th generation iPad. But neither has an app equivalent to Oral Argument. On the Surface Book, I use the very decent DrawBoard PDF app. It also offers a tabbed interface to access all open PDFs. There is a full range of annotation options that work with the very good Surface Pen (which is equivalent to the iPad Pro's Pencil).
The Sony Digital Paper can pre-load multiple PDFs with a tab-based interface for relatively quick access. Because it is a e-ink screen, it is not particularly fast to respond to page turn commands or switching between documents. Slow screen refresh is its primary flaw for use "live" at the podium. I have done it, but the slow page refresh rate causes some additional anxiety. However, for reading large volumes of transcripts and trial court file materials away from court, there is no better device. No backlighting, therefore little or no eyestrain.
Each of these three devices has advantages and disadvantages for use at appeal arguments. I am not sure which I prefer, but perhaps I "voted with my feet" by using the iPad with the Oral Argument app at my last two appeal arguments. I may try to borrow the larger iPad Pro from someone and give it a try. It may have the right combination of features to be a long-term solution.
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Thanks for sharing, Scott! Although we both use our iPads for appellate arguments, we do so in very different ways. You should consider upgrading your 4th generation iPad to a new iPad Pro, which is much more powerful. Given your experience with other large tablet devices, I think that you would make good use of the 12.9" model, which is what I use. I think you would also like using an Apple Pencil, since you already enjoy using the Surface Pro pen.
If any of you are willing to share your own experiences using an iPhone or iPad in your law practice with other iPhone J.D. readers, I'd love to hear from you. And no, you don't have to be an appellate attorney! In case you missed any of them, here are stories that I previously shared from other attorneys:
- Christopher Abernathy: 1/8/15
- William Axtell: 2/19/13
- Zane Cagle: 1/1/12
- Carolyn Elefant: 10/8/15
- Megan Erickson: 5/11/11
- Jeff Forbes: 3/21/13
- Tom Freeland: 7/13/10
- Will Harrelson: 8/19/14
- Cliff Maier: 12/22/08
- Lindsay Rakers: 12/18/12
- Alfred Saikali: 5/4/11
- Mike Schneider: 4/28/09
- Todd Smith: 11/7/16
- Clark Stewart: 7/22/10
- Joe Suhre: 12/3/13
- John Walker: 7/2/13