Attorney Cheryl I. Niro said she rarely goes anywhere without her iPad. The device serves as a map, a camera and a vast repository for documents, photos and music.
As she continues to discover new ways the iPad can make her job easier, Niro's favorite app remains Star Walk, which allows her to gaze at the stars and planets.
"Our lawyer life is such a huge force in our lives," said Niro, a partner at Robinson, Niro LLC. "It drives so much of who we are and what we do and how we spend our time ... just to glimpse at the stars and the planets, with the benefit of this wonderfully designed, truly beautiful program really puts things in perspective."
A new book released by the American Bar Association's Law Practice Management Section called, "iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers," advises lawyers on the most useful apps and currently occupies No. 5 on the ABA's bestseller list, said Tom Mighell, who wrote the book.
Mighell works as a senior consultant at Contoural Inc. and practiced law for 18 years. He said he wrote the book for lawyers possessing minimal iPad experience.
"The real reason for the book is that if you go to the iPad app store, you'll find over 200,000 apps just for the iPad alone," he said. 'I wanted to present a curated list — here are the top apps in these categories that lawyers will find useful."
Mighell said the best app for attorneys remains GoodReader, a document management system that allows iPad users to annotate, highlight, underline and place notes on PDF files, such as trial or deposition transcripts.
GoodReader also allows users to create folders to organize and store documents.
"There are many lawyers who have figured out (the iPad)," Mighell said. "But there are a lot of iPad-owning lawyers out there who still haven't taken the time to learn how productive they could be and how an iPad can help them be more efficient in their practice and the way they serve their clients."
Attorney Joseph F. Marinelli said he found a way to make his iPad immensely useful. Marinelli uses an app similar to GoodReader, called iAnnotate, to review, highlight and underline PDF files that sometimes fill around 1,000 pages.
"I used to sit on airplanes with these gigantic three-ring binders sprawled across my seat into the person next to me and now I can avoid all of that with the iPad," said Marinelli, a partner at Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery LLP.
Marinelli also uses Dropbox, an app that allows him to transfer files from one device to another by uploading the content into a "cloud," or digital repository, and downloading it into a new device.
"It's an indispensable way to get documents on to the iPad," he said.
Attorney Shane M. Delsman considers TripIt particularly useful for his extensive travels as an associate with Fitch, Even.
The app works like this: Delsman e-mails TripIt his airline, hotel and rental car confirmations and TripIt generates an itinerary complete with phone numbers and directions.
Mighell's other top apps for attorneys include: PDF Expert, which allows users to fill out and work with PDF files; Quickoffice Pro, which mirrors Microsoft Office programs; Noteshelf, which serves as a digital notepad; TrialPad, which assists attorneys in the courtroom; Instapaper, which allows users to save articles on the Internet and erases advertising; and Evernote, which serves as a "personal memory," storing everything from photos to research to travel documents, Mighell said.
"If you consider the main things that lawyers do — meeting with people, taking notes, creating documents, reviewing documents — then I think yes, the iPad is well-suited for those types of activities," Mighell said.
Attorney David M. Adler, for example, recently committed to going "paperless." To the extent possible, Adler only uses digital documents and relies heavily on his iPad.
Adler's must-have app? Evernote.
"I use (Evernote) for everything. I interview clients with it, if I'm doing research I clip articles from the Web, I've prepared presentations using it," said Adler, a partner at Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler LLC.
Niro said she knows several attorneys who remain slow to embrace the new technology. She said she believes many want to learn but cannot find the time for it.
"I think there's a large population of lawyers who have had the benefit of extraordinary legal secretaries, who have not been forced to become tech savvy, and they're constantly looking to get up to speed on these new devices as quickly as possible," said Niro, who also serves on the ABA Board of Governors. "But they don't have that foundational intuition about how they work."
Mighell said iPads are not for everyone.
"Use what works for you," he said. "If the iPad works for you, great, and if it doesn't, that's great, too."