iAnnotate cuts down editing time and DocuSign allows use of electronic signatures

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

iAnnotate Review

In a law firm, the editing drill is not only a drag but also a productivity drain. Traditionally lawyers dictate and legal assistants transcribe and then return a document to the lawyer for review.

In another variation, associates draft pleadings and submit them to the partner for review. The documents to be reviewed are placed on the partner’s desk, where they often sit in an ever-growing pile, waiting for the attorney to actually be in the office, out of a meeting and focused on paperwork. The document is marked up by the lawyer, handed back to the assistant or associate and eventually returned to the lawyer’s desk for another round of reviews.

iPad document signed with DocuSign

It is not uncommon it to take days or even a week before a document is ready to be sent out. Though software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or Dragon Naturally Speaking’s Legal Version can dramatically reduce the time needed to bring a document into existence, the use of voice recognition software doesn’t circumvent the final review most lawyers insist on before a document leaves the office.

So even though they can’t automate the final review, some lawyers are using iAnnotate on their iPads to dramatically reduce the amount of time required for the review-and-revision process. In our ongoing series examining how one rural Indiana attorney has been using technology to streamline his practice, Lawyer Tech Review talks to Hunter Reece about this approach, which, he says, is working for him.

Mark Up PDFs with iAnnotate

text reviews in iAnnotate

iAnnotate allows a user to open PDF documents, read them and then annotate them. (Clickable affiliate link.) The app, developed by Aji LLC and selling for $9.99, allows the user to highlight, underline, write text notes, bookmark, draw and even stamp a document. Once annotated, a PDF can be transmitted to others by way of several routes, including email, a cloud computing solution such as Dropbox, iTunes sync or Safari.

Using iAnnotate, Reece has been able to reduce the time it takes him to review documents – as well as the amount of paper he uses in the process. When a document is ready for review, it is emailed to him instead being printed out as a hard copy. (Reece is also experimenting with Dropbox and other cloud computing options as an alternative to email.)

iAnnotate documents management

When there’s a lull during court, Reece says, or “when there’s a slow spot during a conference, I open the document in my iPad and make changes, using iAnnotate.”

When he’s finished, he emails the document back to his staff, who quickly make the requested changes and return the revised document to him for a final review.

Finalize Document with an Electronic Signature

iAnnotate signature

Another advance in the evolution of Reece’s practice is the use of electronic signatures.

DocuSign iPad app

DocuSign allows users to send, sign, track and store documents. The company offers a 14-day free trial of its desktop edition; monthly packages start at $19.99 per month. DocuSign has mobile apps for use with the iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile. (Clickable affiliate link.) The app is free but must be used with an existing DocuSign account.

Reece explains, “I just started using DocuSign to put a signature on document, so now once I approve a letter on my iPad I can add the electronic signature and it gets sent out.”

Have you used iAnnotate or DocuSign in your practice? If so, did you find either feature useful? Are there alternatives that you recommend?

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Also in Lawyer Tech Review:

  1. iPad Apps: Lawyer Reviews iAnnotate and TrialPad Apps
  2. Drop the File Folders, Pick Up the iPad
  3. How an Apple iPad Keyboard and an iPhone Made for One Happy (and Mobile) Lawyer