A lawyer friend from Colorado recently inquired as to how I use my iPad in my law practice. Since I’ve been asked the question before, and since many of my professional uses will apply to many professions, I thought I should share my response. Here it is:
Practice? What Practice?
Actually, about 75% of my iPad usage is personal; for reading news and mags. I don’t have Angry Birds yet, but I borrow my wife’s iPad for that.
Recently, however, I have been using it more in my practice, in several ways. First, we acquired a cabin, and we’re trying to keep that as a “limited technology zone.” I do use it there to receive and send emails when I’m away on the weekend. It’s less obtrusive than the laptop, easier to cart up and back, has wireless (non-wifi) access, and it doesn’t feel as much like work to reply to an email on it.
If you use Daylite (which I heartily recommend), the Daylite Touch App is an amazing way to keep your calendar updated. Daylite Touch also works on my iPhone; it automatically syncs with my office calendar, whenever it’s accessed, provided that I have either phone service or wifi. And, you can access all of the calendars in your database, if you have Daylite installed on your network. I mainly use Daylite Touch on my phone, although it’s better and more accessible on the larger iPad format.
Gotomypc has a good iPad App that allows you to remotely access Windows and Mac computers. We still have TimeMatters as our billing system (unfortunately), so I can access and record time, remotely, through that. If you use Gotomypc, you’ll find that it is much easier to use on the iPad app than it is through a browser. (I’m still looking for a good mac-based billing system, so that I can defenestrate our office server.)
I also recently bought Omnifocus for the iPad. Still playing with it, but it looks like a great organizational program.
Dropbox allows you to sync files between your mobile devices and other computers. I don’t us it a lot, but others do. Crashplan, which is our office remote backup for the office Macs, just released an iPad and iPhone App which appears to do the same thing. That may be preferable, since all of our office files are continuously backed up.
Penultimate is a good program for taking notes in meetings. Papyrus appears to be almost as good (perhaps better), and it’s free. I just acquired a Jot stylus, which has a finer point than most of them, and promises “no more fingerpainting…” (All of the other iPad styli that I have used have a tip about the size of a pencil eraser. The Jot is more like a ball point pen, but protects the surface with a little plastic disc.
There are several good travel apps; FlightAware gives real time status on flights; all of the big travel sites have apps.
Although I joke about my limited use of the iPad for work, I do use it with increasing frequency. I’m teaching in Southern California early next month, and am trying to get up the nerve to leave the laptop behind. I’m quite confident that I could pull it off.
In connection with your shift from the Dark Side, I recommend you check out and subscribe to the MILO (Macs in Law Offices) group on Google. (firstname.lastname@example.org)