Trial Preparation Tricks You’ll Actually Use (Part 2)
Scott J. Grossberg, Esq.
In my last article, I discussed the app called SG Project for use as a powerful Pre-Trial and Trial project management tool. In this offering, I want to share with you my way of applying the hugely popular app, GoodReader from Yuri Selukoff, as an easy-to-use Trial Notebook. Reduced to its simplest form, GoodReader is a document reader. It can open the following file types:
Whew!!! No wonder it has received so much acclaim. But . . . simply handling these types of file formats is only the beginning.
GoodReader is also a file management, storage, and download tool. The ability to structure the way you store your files on the iPad is what turns this incredible app into my Trial Notebook.
Naturally, the first thing you need to decide is how you get your Trial documentation into GoodReader. My preferred workflow method is by integrating the app with my Dropbox account. This allows anyone in my office who is working on a particular Trial with me to place documents that I might need or want into a shared account from which I can dependably download my selected items. Imagine how your litigation practice will become easier if, while you are on the road or in Court, you can simply contact your office, request a document, and nearly instantly it appears for you to obtain. Of course, this presumes you have connectivity. For those times when an internet connection might be an issue, you simply plan ahead and download the documents before leaving.
While syncing with Dropbox is how I primarily work with the app, you will be extremely pleased to know that you can also import files into GoodReader though a USB connection, WiFi file transfer, Web download, SugarSync, and even via an email attachment.
With some of the preliminaries out of the way, I imagine you’re ready to hear about actually creating a Trial Notebook. To begin, you will want to create a folder in GoodReader (I call mine Work. Creating a folder is easy by using the Manage Files pane. Simply press the button labeled, naturally enough, New Folder. You can label this initial folder anything you’d like (as I said, I call mine Work).
Now the fun begins. If you press on the new Work folder that you just created, you will be able to create subfolders for each and every one of the cases you are working on. It is this ability to create subfolders that transforms GoodReader into a viable Trial Notebook. You create the subfolders the same way that you created your initial folder, only this time the new folder will appear within the original folder. You can then create sub-subfolders within each of your cases. The only downside I have found to working with folders and subfolders in GoodReader is that the app automatically alphabetizes your titles. That’s not how I like to organize my Trial Notebooks. I am very particular about the order of my Trial Notebook sections. After all, I have been a litigator for 25 years and I have trained myself to know where to look for something quickly so that I don’t test a judge’s or a juror’s patience. If it takes you longer than 30 seconds to find a needed document, perhaps it’s time to revisit your style of working.
Until GoodReader allows me to organize folders in whatever order I prefer through the usual drag-and-drop technique, I have found a simple workaround. I place a number in front of each of my Trial Notebook subfolders; the number representing the order I want to use. GoodReader will give priority to the numerical designations over the alphabetical ones. So, here are the subfolders I create for each and every litigation case that I handle:
(1) Things to Do
(2) Thoughts About the Case
(3) Settlement Options
(4) Contact List
(5) Case Chronology/Timeline
(6) Research/Points of Law
(7) Trial Briefs/Memoranda of Law
(8) Pre-Trial Orders
(9) Trial Plan/Order of Proof
(12) Answers to Discovery
(19) Voir Dire
(20) Jury Instructions
(21) Opening Statement
(22) Closing Argument
Generally, these categories are completely sufficient for my needs. Should you need even more flexibility or organization, you can even create sub-sub-subfolders under each of these Trial Notebook categories in GoodReader. I caution you not to go overboard on your folder creation. Remember, the important thing is for you to be able to find the document you need at a moment’s notice.
Once your categories have been created, it is a simple matter to place the documents, photographs, letters, etc. of your choosing in the various folders. I prefer to convert everything to PDF format for consistency and ease of use in other programs, if needed. However, as you can see, above, GoodReader will handle various other file types.
You now have a powerful tool at your disposal; one that permits you to find items nearly instantly and which also permits you to display your content to a judge, opposing counsel, witness, or jury as may be desired. More importantly, you have substantially cut back on the need to flip through pages and pages of material or have a voluminous Trial Notebook with you at the counsel table.
If needed, you can take any document in your digital Trial Notebook and share (email) it with the Court and other counsel. You can also print directly from the app.
Finally, you should also know that GoodReader permits you to annotate your Trial Notebook documents. Further, you can create bookmarks to suit your working style. You can also instantly Go To any page of a document with a simple command. And, if these weren’t enough, you can use the Open In . . . iPad ability to reopen your Trial document in another app!
Give GoodReader a close look and I believe you will find that your Trial and Pre-Trial preparation and activities will be empowered beyond your prior imaginings.
If you enjoyed this, I’d be grateful if you share this with others. That’s right, go ahead and help spread this information by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. And, if you’re interested in finding out how I can make a presentation to your law firm, please contact me at 909-483-1850 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2012 by Scott Grossberg. All Rights Reserved.
Mr. Grossberg is a founding partner of the Southern California law firm of Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse. He is a featured speaker and published author on numerous topics including media relations, social media, technology, public speaking, memory, and various other cutting edge concepts. Mr. Grossberg’s “iPad Lawyer” seminars provide legal professionals with the ability to truly harness the potential of Apple’s tablet. He is regularly called upon to address the impact of emerging technology and social media, suggest policies and procedures that should be in place, and to discuss liability exposure for this new way of doing business. He can be reached at email@example.com.