On a number of occasions in the past, I’ve discussed why I believe Evernote is such a powerful tool for attorneys. I use it in every aspect of my practice. I organize my case files with it, I draft notes and other memos inside it, I take voice memos using it, and I use it heavily when preparing for or attending trials, hearings, and depositions. Evernote allows you to make all of the information for a case easily accessible wherever you go.
If you’re not familiar with it, Evernote is a cloud-based storage service for taking notes and storing information. It’s available for most devices and computers. As the name suggests, Evernote’s basic function is to create “notes.” But that description doesn’t cover how useful it is. These notes can consist of formatted text, a clipped webpage, a picture, a voice memo, or even a handwritten note. Notes can also include any form of attachment (from PDFs to Word documents). Evernote can read your PDFs, and through technology called optical character recognition (OCR), make them searchable. You can create notes using Evernote on any computer or mobile device, or you can email anything to your Evernote account. Your account will automatically sync, and you can then access your notes from any device.
Here’s how I use Evernote in a deposition:
First and foremost, Evernote is useful because you can connect your account with each and every device you use. As a result, you can access the information you stored from virtually anywhere. Thus, the first step in using Evernote for any purpose is to install it on each of your devices. For example, I’ve installed it on my iPhone, my iPad, and my Macbook.
Create a Deposition Notebook
Whenever I get a new case from a client, I create an Evernote “notebook” for that case. A notebook is essentially a collection of notes in Evernote. Notebooks are a great way to organize related information within Evernote. Next, when I’m preparing for a deposition, I create a new notebook specifically for that deposition. You can drop the new deposition notebook into your larger case notebook to create a “stack.” A stack is a collection of related notebooks. Creating and organizing these notebooks and stacks takes mere seconds.
Create a Deposition Outline
Once I’ve done that, I create a new note in Evernote that will serve as my deposition outline. You can even create a checklist of topics or questions that you want to cover during the deposition using the checklists feature. Likewise, as I’ve explained in a previous post, you can use “note links” to quickly link to other important notes within the outline.
You’ll be able to update and edit this outline from any device where you’ve installed Evernote. You can even edit and revise the outline during the course of the deposition based on the testimony you receive. I like to use my iPad for this purpose.
Add Important Documents and Pictures to Evernote
While preparing for the deposition, I like to make sure that all of the documents relevant to the deposition are available in my Evernote. Remember, as I previously mentioned, you can store and view most file types within Evernote. This includes most of the file types attorneys use when building their case including PDFs, docs, jpegs, and even clippings from webpages. For this reason, I drag and drop all of the important evidence or documents that I might want into the deposition notebook as separate notes—including pictures, discovery responses, pleadings, and so forth. That way, they are all easily available during the deposition if I need to refer to them for any reason, and I also don’t need to bring a banker’s box of documents with me to the deposition (just those documents and pictures I plan to mark as exhibits).
Using Evernote During the Deposition
Now that you have everything stored in your Evernote account, you can access it all effortlessly during the deposition. Evernote’s impressively powerful search function will allow you to call up information as you go. I edit the deposition outline note I created earlier to build my summary while I’m taking the deposition.
When documents are introduced as exhibits, I use Evernote’s Page Camera tool to digitize them as notes. When pictures are introduced as exhibits, I use normal camera tool to take a photo of the image. It’s very intuitive and quick and doesn’t interrupt the flow of the deposition.
Bonus Points With Evernote Premium
The standard Evernote service is free. Evernote Premium is only $45 a year (or $5 a month). Considering how useful the tool is, I think that’s a steal. After all, once you start using Evernote regularly you’ll probably want to go Premium just for the extra storage space it provides. Nonetheless, there are a number of other benefits to using Evernote Premium.
For example, if you’re using Evernote Premium it’s easy to make a notebook available offline. That can be a life saver if things go funky with the local Wi-Fi in the middle of the deposition. Similarly, if inspiration strikes while you’re out of the office, you can access your outline and update it even if you’re offline. It’ll sync your notes when service returns.
You can even share your notebook with other members of your team who can add and edit documents in real time. So if you forget a document or picture you want for the deposition and you’ve shared the notebook with your team, you can have someone at the office drop the doc or pic into your folder for nearly instant access. Similarly, members of your team with access to your shared notebook can view the documents you add to that notebook during the deposition. Thus, if you’d like to share a new exhibit with a member of your staff who is back in the office during the deposition, it’s easy to do.
So what do you think? Do you use Evernote in your practice? If so, how do you use it?