Just Because You Have an IPad Doesn’t Mean You Need to Use It

Technology – such as iPads – can help attorneys be more effective advocates. But like any tool, you need to use it correctly, not just because you have it. Otherwise, the technology can actually weaken your position, and frustrate the judge, jury or arbitrator you are trying to convince.

I sat as an arbitrator today in a relatively routine car accident case, involving a side swipe at an intersection – I think. The reason I say “I think” is because the plaintiff’s attorney was so enamored of his iPad that he never asked his client, “Tell the panel, how did the accident occur?”

Instead, he fixated on using his iPad to display an image from Google Maps of the intersection where the accident occurred. He showed the iPad to his client, but the arbitrators couldn’t view it. In addition, his client was pointing to the screen and gesturing about going up or down. The panel of arbitrators just sat there. Making matters worse, the picture of the intersection was facing the wrong direction, and when he showed it to his client, the arbitrators had to look at it upside down. Overall, the use of the iPad was cumbersome and distracting.

Interestingly, the attorney did bring some photographs of the intersection with him, and would have been better served by showing them to his client and the panel. In fact, he would have been better served by just having his client draw a diagram on the white board in the room. Maybe then the panel would have had a clue what happened.

In short, just because you have a tool doesn’t mean you have to use it.

This is not to say that using an iPad, or other tablet or technological device, is a bad idea. There are many ways this attorney could have used the technology to his advantage. For instance, the attorney could have downloaded the image and created a pdf. Using that pdf, his client could have drawn on the image and presented a much clearer picture of how the accident occurred. Not only would this have made the plaintiff’s testimony clearer, it also would have helped the arbitrators to understand and evaluate the accident better.

Knowing when to use technology is like knowing which tool to use when fixing a loose screw. If the screw is made for a Phillips head screwdriver, then you shouldn’t be using a flathead screwdriver. You have to know when to use which type of screwdriver for which type of screw. Similarly, with technology, you have to know when and how to use technology to further your case and when it is simply a cumbersome and unnecessary distraction.

Fortunately, Integrated Technology Services can provide guidance in this area. As practicing litigators, we can show you how and when the use of technology can be beneficial to your case. Click here to read about Dan Siegel’s presentation, “Androids for Litigators” at Techshow 2014, which “Droid Lawyer” Jeff Taylor described as “an awesome presentation.” ITS helps lawyers and their staffs use Androids, iPads and lots of other law office technology.

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