Lawyers have facts at fingertips with app that displays evidence
With a few finger swipes, attorneys can cut out costly courtroom presentation consultants and show digital evidence themselves with a new iPad application created by a Miami joint venture.
Called TrialPad, the $89.99 app lets lawyers use their iPad to present PDF files and make changes on the fly, whether highlighting lines in a medical record for a jury or zooming in and circling part of an X-ray photo.
The one-time app price is vastly less than the typical cost of hiring a tech consultant at about $100-$150 an hour to manage the choreography of electronic evidence before and during a trial.
The app was created by one such tech consulting firm, Saurian Litigation Support, which partnered with accounting consulting firm Kaufman, Rossin & Co. to create the app under the company name Lit Software.
Ian O'Flaherty, CEO of Saurian and developer of the app, said to hire his firm to make a presentation is "very expensive," and a majority of the presentations only need basic tools like zooming, highlighting, blacking out and drawing, which his app does.
He wouldn't reveal the investment cost to program it, other than it was "six figures."
The only objection: It's simple software, and not ideal for handling a complicated case with a heavy load of digital evidence. And an attorney would still need to hook it up to a projector if the courtroom isn't already equipped.
Those limitations spell job security for litigation consultants, said O'Flaherty, who has worked as a litigation consultant for the past 10 years.
"TrialPad is never going to replace a professional," O'Flaherty said. "This is meant for smaller trials and hearings."
Though it has only been in the iTunes store for a few weeks, TrialPad is already among the top-grossing iPad business apps.
There are three other lawyer-specific apps that rank in the top 100: iJuror ($9.99), JuryTracker ($9.99) and Jury Duty ($39.99), all tools for organizing whom to pick for a jury.
Coral Gables, Fla., attorney Marc P. Ganz of law firm McGrane Nosich & Ganz recently used the TrialPad app to strengthen a deposition by zooming in and circling areas of an X-ray during expert testimony.
"It's something I would never do before," Ganz said. He said he sees himself using it more for preparing questions and researching during a trial, and would still hire a professional to manage presentations for most cases.
"For me to use it in a trial, it would have to be a real small trial that doesn't take a lot of documents to deal with," Ganz said.
Ganz is a part of a growing number of attorneys who are ditching heavy binders and laptops for lighter tablets like an iPad for quick document searches and note-taking - a segment that TrialPad makers are banking will make the app a success.
For advice on his app idea, O'Flaherty approached Kaufman, Rossin & Co. From there, the partnership grew.
"Our marketing people said, 'We'll talk to you about marketing, but also how we can get involved?' " said Blain Heckaman, an audit principal at the firm.
It's the first time Kaufman Rossin has been involved in anything mobile, Heckaman said. The app went through several revisions over the past three months, such as making it easier to upload files. He said the team is confident after hearing positive feedback from lawyers they have approached.
"I think the price point is acceptable because we're dealing with professionals that bill themselves $400 to $500 an hour. How long are they going to think about spending $90?" Heckaman said.
TrialPad's first big marketing push will come this month during the New York LegalTech conference. But it's already been downloaded around the globe, including Mexico, Canada and Ireland.
Attorney David Kleinberg of the Aventura, Fla., firm Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert downloaded it after talking to O'Flaherty.
"There's a lot of meat and potato cases that this will work for," Kleinberg said, who expected to use the app in at least 10 cases this year.
"This thing is going to pay for itself after 10 seconds."
But Kleinberg had yet to give it a test drive during a trial.
"I'm going to a mediation in a couple of days, I plan on taking it with me and having some fun," Kleinberg said.
(c) 2011, The Miami Herald.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.